Hi All! Long time no see. I’m sorry I left this blog to collect dust for a long time. There’s been a lot going on in my life, as there has been in everyone’s this year, and I honestly just needed to take a breather and step away from this blog and some other things for a bit. I hope there are still people reading this and you’re doing okay!
This is the tenth review in my ‘Buzzfeed Recommend’ series in which I read and review all the books Buzzfeed recommended in their article: ’15 Brand-New Young Adult Novels That Are Just So, So, Good’. You can read the summary for that here.
‘Lucky Caller’ by Emma Mills is a YA contemporary romance, and the audiobook is narrated by Jesse Vilinsky. It currently has an average rating of 3.74 on Goodreads and I have rated it 4 stars.
The story follows Nina as she begins a radio broadcasting class during her senior year of high school, she expects it to be a fun walk in the park but in the end it feels nothing short of a disaster. Her team is made up of people randomly thrown together with nothing in common, other than her and Jamie, her childhood best friend she’s hoped she could avoid for the rest of her school life. The show is messy and disorganised whilst their words and actions also threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down upon them, and to make matters worse Nina’s family is going through some serious changes.
“So when I said that I’d always be your friend, I meant that… I always want to be there for you, no matter what. No matter which way. And if you don’t feel the same way, that’s okay. I understand. I’ll just… keep on loving you. All those other ways.”
I was expecting this book to be an absolute dud for me. I went into it believing it was just another romance book that I would hate or find boring, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I found myself more invested in the characters and their stories than I expected to be, and whilst it was emotional and carried some messaging on families, it was also still a fun romance that you could immerse yourself in.
Nina, our protagonist, is an interesting YA protagonist. As whilst she appears to be a Mary Sue at first – the kind of characters that are so plain anyone can see themselves in them – she really comes into her own throughout the novel, and as time goes on she becomes a far more rounded and distinct character. I liked this about her character, as I felt she was growing as the book went on and we got to learn more about her as she opened up to the people around her. Whilst one could argue she still remained a bit ‘plain’ – there was nothing overtly distinctive or fun about her character – she was still interesting and had enough growth to keep me hooked.
The best things about this book however was the relationships, Mills is clearly a master at building and creating relationships within a fictional space as every relationship featured in the book was well done. I particularly enjoyed how the friendships between those in Nina’s radio team and class were built up, because you could see how the four of them in Nina’s team grew together and came to care for each other. It all felt very organic and none of it was forced or faked, and I found myself wanting to be part of that group.
As well as this, the sibling relationship Nina has with her two sisters: Rose and Sydney is just simply fantastic. It was lovely to see such a strong bond between the three of them and how it changed and evolved over time, this was done through the story of the make believe game they played together that was featured in the novel, and it’s truly a testament to Mill’s writing ability that those scenes felt cute and sweet rather than forced or cringey. Whilst I really liked them and their dynamic, I would say I would have liked to have seen more from the two sisters, especially Rose as she was going through such a transformative period with issues at college and facing an unsure future, something a lot of YA readers can relate to and learn from; and Sydney was growing up into a teenager and that’s always a tumultuous time.
Furthermore, the relationship dynamics within Nina’s family were interesting, especially those of her dad and step-dad’s relationship with her. Despite Nina’s reluctance towards her step-dad, Dan (the dantist), I really liked him and how he grew as a character through Nina’s changing perspective and feelings towards him. I honestly think Mills wrote a great father figure in him that was sweet, endearing and kind and it was nice to see a healthy paternal relationship in a YA book. This was juxtaposed really well with the figure of Nina’s biological father, who not only was distant as he lived across the country but due to his nature and approach to fathering. This contrast really helped to drive home one of the key messages of the book relating to children’s changing and evolving perspective of their parents as the get older. We all learn to see our parents as human beings rather than as our parents who can do no wrong, and it was interesting to watch Nina learn that her father was a complex man with flaws, especially when set against Dan a far more likeable character.
The romance was sweet, almost sickly sweet at times, but I still found myself enjoying it immensely. It felt very much like a real teenage romance with lots of awkward bumbling moments of not being sure what crossed the line, and what didn’t, but also how to transition from a friendship to a romantic relationship. Jamie was a great romantic counterpart to Nina, and unlike some YA romantic interests, I feel like he had a personality that stretched beyond the hot-and-into-the-protagonist ‘personality’ trope we see all the time in YA. Jamie was kind, caring and empathetic, but also had a strong moral compass that put him in dispute with Nina at times.
Whilst the plot was nothing drastic, extreme or even new in the YA fictional landscape it was simply really well done. I found myself hooked even though there was nothing adventurous or daring taking place, and whilst there were at times stakes and drama in the narrative, it was mild for a YA novel. Whilst it’s not the strongest aspect of this book it’s not poorly done, however I could see how people could become bored or be left to feel like the book is dragging if they enjoyed more adventurous narratives.
It’s important to mention as well that I did listen to this on audiobook, and I believe the narrator Jesse Vilinsky did nothing but add more to an already brilliant story. Vilinsky made everything feel compelling and added the right amount of emotional strain to the story, and she was a great fit for this book.
Overall this was just a great romance story to suit all your romance needs and desires, with wonderful platonic and romantic relationships and a great set of characters. The only thing that could possibly fail it for some readers is the lack of an intriguing plot, however as a reader who doesn’t traditionally like romance, I think it did a pretty good job because I like this.
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