Truth: I've been dying to read this book. Want proof?
Truth: I started a twitter account just so I could participate in a contest to win an arc. (No joke, I wanted it that badly :p) The first two chapters of The Fine Art of Truth or Dare were up on Melissa Jensen's site, and after reading those, I was ready to dig right in.
The Awesome: Unfortunately, I didn't win an arc--but last week I ran out and scooped up the only copy left at the bookstore. *Happy dance* J
The book took a familiar concept (Social Outcast crushes hard on the It Guy Everyone's in Love With), but the story itself was refreshed by an interesting main character and fun side characters. There were several things that made Ella Marino different. One of the most obvious (and my personal favorite) was the fact that Ella is in love with a dead guy. The impossible love she had for the long-dead artist Edward Willing was so interesting if a bit sad. Interesting b/c I couldn't help but be drawn to Ella's character. I wanted to know who this girl was and what was so great about this guy that a teenager would develop such a deep fascination with him a hundred years later. Sad b/c, well, Willing's been dead for over a hundred years, and Ella's love will always be one-sided.
Another thing I loved about Ella was her family. The Marinos were a very loud, tight knit, and unapologetically Italian bunch. They all work in a family-run restaurant, so they can't escape each other. The father who's constantly trying to get Ella to eat more, convinced that good food is the answer to life's problems. Crazy Nonna who pinches Ella's cheek and shouts and bangs pots like there's no tomorrow. The over-the-top older sister, Uncle Ricky who's determined to be on Top Chef. The scenes at Marino's were some of the best.
I also loved Ella's friends. Now, I'm not going to lie. As much as I loved Frankie (and I did), I couldn't help but picture Duckie from Pretty in Pink. I, personally, didn't love that movie as much as everyone else--Blaine was a jerk with no backbone; Molly's character was a jerk to Duckie (who really did love her); and there was absolutely no chemistry. I was so much more a fan of Some Kind of Wonderful J. But, despite my dislike of PiP, I loved Duckie. He made that movie at least bearable. Jensen's Frankie was wonderful as well, but Sadie was the more interesting character to me. I liked how she had issues with her weight and a mother who dressed her in horrible couture. I also liked how she had this great voice that could stop traffic.
Sadie and Frankie and Ella were all hits. Loved how they played Truth or Dare to catch up and learn new things about each other. At the end, though, I still preferred Edward Willing to Alex Bainbridge. I really wished Alex (Ella's It Boy) would've stood up for Ella in front of his friends. I was left wondering why he hung out with the a-holes he hung out with. None of them showed any redeeming qualities. And as nice as Alex was, I really wished he would've kissed Ella's scarred/burned shoulder. I was waiting for that kiss. Ella was very, very self-conscious about that burn throughout the book, and I just wanted Alex to make her feel better about it. I know it was up to Ella to accept herself, but I think Alex could've helped her get there. I would've been so much more into him if he had.
Anyway, I really liked several aspects of the book. It made me laugh out loud a few times, and I sped through it in two days. Definitely worth the wait, and I'm glad I got to meet Ella J