Reviewed by Tori
It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.
But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times—and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.
So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.
Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies. (Goodreads)
Just Friends is D.R.A.M.A. 24 hours a day, seven days a week with an extra side of drama bursting with angst and ridiculousness. Three best friends (Dustin, Olivia, and Emily) begin to drift apart their senior year after two of them hook up over the summer while one was away. Told from the viewpoint of Olivia, we learn she and Dustin have feelings for one another and have acted on them in the past. Olivia teeters between making it official or keeping it low key because he means more to her as a friend then as a boyfriend. When she learns about him and Emily, jealousy rears its ugly head and she turns around and hooks up with new guy Ryan who Em likes. But Olivia doesn’t trust Ryan; she thinks he playing her and she could be right. She still like Dustin but knows he’s a player and he’s already betrayed her once. From there Olivia finds herself in a messy love triangle (love square?) with new friends, new loves, new enemies, and her former bestie on the sidelines sabotaging her every move.
I’m a sucker for high school teen drama stories. The more emotionally and physically over the top, the more I enjoy them. 90210, My So Called Life, Dawson’s Creek; I watched them all and reviled in the drama, backstabbing, apathy, and most importantly, the social issues that were addressed and not always dealt with in a positive manner. When I discovered Monica Murphy was writing a YA I was interested. I’ve enjoyed her NA and adult romances and was curious to see if her magic would work on a younger age group.
Unfortunately the magic was not here for me.
I disliked the majority of people in here. No one, with the exception of Amanda, interested me. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself. I have disliked entire casts of characters before in a book but thoroughly enjoyed the story itself because the characters and storyline were so intriguing and outrageously entertaining, I was able to push aside my antagonism and keep going. But in here, I could not connect to these kids at all and I found their stories more aggravating than entertaining. They are so entitled and narcissistic. Most teenagers are affected this but these kids take it to a whole new level. The ME generation at its finest with their cheating, drug and alcohol use, backstabbing, lying, and nonstop pity parties. I spent a majority of the book aggravated and frustrated by these kids.
Though Murphy’s solid writing and flowing narrative are present, the dramatic scenes overflow with drama, angst, and emotional overload, making promises that don’t pan out. The nonstop drama disguises the fact there is really nothing underneath the surface. The premise is as old as time and maybe would have worked if there had been some solid external conflicts to help anchor and deepen the main storyline, explaining the motivations behind some of the characters actions. But everything is from Olivia’s point of view so the depth isn’t there. The plot lines are thin with almost zero growth from the characters or the storyline. The only storyline that had potential was the secondary romance. The push and pull of their relationship and the tension that surrounded it was the most realistic storyline in the book. But then Murphy leaves us on a cliffhanger with the assumption that they will suffer in the fall out.
Just Friends just wasn’t for me. It failed to engage or entertain me and left me so very very glad my high school days are over.