I’ve been mulling over how to attack this review of TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han. I think maybe I buggered this one up by watching the movie first. As a rule, I really do avoid watching movies before I’ve had a chance to read the novel. There is usually something lost in translation and the movies are never quite as good. But it’s rarely more than two hours of me mentally kibitzing about the differences. Also, I’m nearly always able to enjoy it anyway so it’s rarely an issue. But when I read the book second, I can’t help compare the movie to the book for the six, eight, fifteen, or twenty hours of the novel.
So let’s start with the Netflix movie. It released about ten days ago or something, and blew up Twitter. I could not believe the sheer amount of people talking about this movie. I was midway through a different book and that was a large factor in me caving and watching the movie first. *Shakes head* For the record, I loved this movie. I watched it two nights in a row and I’d happily watch it again tonight. There is an insane amount of chemistry between the two main characters, which is always nice to see on screen. And beyond that, it felt like a throwback to a great 80s rom-com but without all the normative sexism. The other thing which stood out to me was despite the bad-boy sort of persona of Peter, one of the main characters, he was still this really good guy who always went out of his way for Lara Jean, the other mc. There was never a hesitation to right a wrong if something happened. You can see through his actions that despite their arrangement, he actually cares about her. This stood out to me right away.
Unfortunately, I picked up this book with the same sort of high hopes. I went into it excited and hopeful. There are a lot of things I loved about this book. I love the overall voice of Lara Jean’s character, and for the most part, the relationship between the sisters. While there wasn’t a TON of growth, the growth we do see felt real. The overall writing style has an ease which was easy to move through and made this a super quick read. BUT… I didn’t like Peter’s character in the book even a fraction of the amount I loved his character in the movie. In fact, I found him arrogant, chauvinistic, and frequently annoying. He has all these redeeming qualities in the movie and in the book he falls flat.
The other thing that really bothered me, was the whole kissing your sister’s boyfriend. I love the relationship between the sisters. I have two younger sisters myself and found it easy to relate to the oldest sister as a result. But there was this rivalry over the boy next door, Josh, and honestly, there’s a whole sister code, this being one of those lines you NEVER cross. Even the older sister dating the middle sister’s best friend in the first place is a little rough. There would have likely been a conversation about it first between sisters. There are lines you don’t cross and they were all crossed in this book. I could get over the bff thing but when Lara Jean kisses Josh, it gave me the heebyjeebies. In the movie, this never happens *thank the stars* and while she had feelings for her sister’s boyfriend once upon a time, she never does in the present.
Trust me when I say I understand dysfunction. In fact, a similar situation happened between my two younger sisters and let’s just say it wasn’t a hug and make-up kind of fight. There’s still animosity about it. There are some things you just don’t do.
The only other thing that bugged me was the ending. It just ends. There’s no resolution. While this could be because there’s a book two and three, it was frustrating. Honestly, I wonder if I’d have such harsh feelings about this book if I hadn’t watched the movie first. Maybe I wouldn’t have watched the movie at all though and I’m glad I did. Still, love the movie, but I don’t know how to be a fraction of excited about this book. I’ve read some reviews which imply that the series gets better. I’ve already downloaded book two, I’m just not sure if I’m committed to reading it yet. I do wonder what happens though so only time will tell.