Review: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak
"I'm sorry," he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. "It's just-I didn't want you to think of me any differently." Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn't accept that he was the person looking down at me. "My real name is Alec." Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she's had the full weight of her mother's expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college. Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he'd flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he'd turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec. Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity's missing sister. And she's about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be...
Paper Hearts is a young adult contemporary romance set in the Heartbreakers Chronicles world. You don't need to have read the first one to understand or follow along. (The story of the first book is hinted at, so you may want read them in order if you hate even the threat of a spoil.)
I thought Paper Hearts was a cute and compelling read. Felicity, the super-ambitious main character who feels like she has the world on her shoulders, is easy to relate to and identify with. Her tension with her family feels real, and I loved the fierce relationship between Felicity and her best friends. The female characters talk about more than just boys; they talk about life goals and dreams and, you know, the things girls talk about with each other. They also all talk like real people. Hooray!
The romance is total wish-fulfillment, of course, but it's also rooted in friendship and respect. I didn't find Alec super dreamy, but I liked his shy, serious personality. Alec and his bandmates are also depicted as real friends with a shared history, not as some musical bad boys treating everyone like garbage.
I have a real weak spot for road trip stories, but sometimes they can get plodding. Teens are just out driving around forever with no regard to time or budget. What I enjoyed about the road trip story in Paper Hearts is the ticking clock. The group on this road trip have limited funds (even though they are driving with a wealthy pop star, he isn't funding their expedition) and a certain time they need to be back home.
This was my first Ali Novak book, and I enjoyed it so much. Sourcebooks keeps putting out one great book after another, and I thank them for the opportunity to read Paper Hearts!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* 3 1/2 Stars
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 4, 2017