Better Than the Movies

    • 4.4 • 33 Ratings
    • $13.99
    • $13.99

Publisher Description


Perfect for fans of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, this “sweet and funny” (Kerry Winfrey, author of Waiting for Tom Hanks) teen rom-com follows a hopelessly romantic teen girl and her cute yet obnoxious neighbor as they scheme to get her noticed by her untouchable crush.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.

Young Adult
May 4
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster Canada

Customer Reviews

SofieU ,

A Pretty Basic YA romcom

Thank you NetGalley for providing me an e-arc for review!

"Come on, Liz - at least be honest with yourself. You dress like her, you watch all the shows she watched, and you do everything in your power to behave as if she's writing the screenplay of your life and you're her character."

Better Than the Movies is a cute-as-a-button YA novel that follows Liz as she tries to win the heart of her childhood crush ~who just moved back to town~ with the help of her childhood enemy, Wes.

This book is cute, y'all. It gave my the butterflies. It made me tear up. It made me nostalgic for a time in my life that I didn't even really enjoy when living through it, and yet, it made me hopeful that I could have had a cute rom-com like high school experience in another life.

That said, if I'm being honest, Better Than the Movies felt like a book I've read before. It follows the same plot and clichés as many YA novels that came before it. Was it still an enjoyable read? Yes. But it didn't add anything new or unexpected to the genre.

Otherwise, I really have to remember what it was like to be a teenager, because Liz's character could be... very frustrating. Look, I understand teen books need conflict too. I get it. Was I woefully uncommunicative and prone to petty misunderstandings and fights when I was that age? I mean, probably. And yet I still felt iffy about some of the books main conflicts and character choices. The miscommunications felt weak and her lying seemed to be added just for the sake of some c-plot conflict with her best friend.

And Wes. Of course, as to be expected, he's as charming, witty, and secretly-pining as YA love interests come, though I'm not sure how much I enjoyed the subtle "oh-he's-teasing-you-cause-he-likes-you" narrative we got from their childhood together (that Liz obviously doesn't pick up on). And much as I enjoyed him as a character (I'm a sucker for characters that pine), he felt wholly unremarkable. If you'd hidden his name, I could have thought he was Jackson from Kasie West's Moment of Truth, Asher from Jessica Pennington's Meet Me at Midnight, or Finn from Kate Brian's Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys.

I don't want to get too specific, as obviously this book isn't out yet and people have the right to be surprised, but I will say that the ending, for me, was pretty underwhelming. I wanted speaker-above-the-head confessions! Crying in the rain! Grand gestures!

There were a few writing things that Painter included that felt a bit try-hard. I'm of the belief that current gen-z slang changes so quickly that it's futile to try and include in. What's in when you're writing will almost certainly not be when the book is published. In Better Than the Movie's case, Painter had Liz say "I am shook" (which, on top of just being a cringe slang in general, just doesn't feel in keeping with her character), and also has Helena, Liz's step-mom, say "bet". It was off-putting.

For a book with such a focus on rom-com movies, I would have actually liked to see more rom-com tropes. I thought, in Liz's attempt to woo Michael, her and Wes would have teamed up to manufacture a few cliché moments. I actually thought that would be the entire premise of the book!

Overall, this fluffy book will definitely give you the warm-and-fuzzies. It's pretty much everything you can expect from a YA romance set in high school, so as long as you go in with those expectations, you should have no problem flying through this like me!

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