Author – Meg Cabot
Publication Date – 2002
Number of Pages – 384 pages
Genre – Romance
Geographical Setting – New York City
Have you had a very good laugh lately? Well, you’ve got to pick up this book!
The main character in this novel is Melissa Fuller, but “You can call me Mel”, as she says. Mel is a gossip columnist for the New York Journal and has just broken up with her longtime boyfriend, Aaron Spender. Her best friend, Nadine Wilcock, a food critic, is getting married to her boyfriend, Tony Salerno, who is a chef at the popular restaurant Fresche. Melissa also has many coworkers, including Dolly Vargas, an outlandish Style Editor who has her eyes on quite a few men.
The book starts with Melissa being late to work after finding her neighbour, Mrs. Helen Friedlander, facedown on the carpet of her apartment after a brutal attack. Mel gets her to the hospital but has yet to solve the problem of walking Paco, Mrs. Friedlander’s Great Dane. She calls upon Mrs. Friedlander’s nephew, Max Friedlander, to come and take care of Paco and the two cats Tweedledum and Mr. Peepers. Max, who is on vacation with the supermodel Vivica, calls upon his millionaire friend John Trent, who is a crime reporter for the New York Chronicle, the Journal’s top competitor. John impersonates Max and moves into Max’s Aunt Helen’s apartment. Blurb ~ Wikipedia
My Take -
The author, Meg Cabot is popularly known for her young adult novels, but The Boy Next Door was her first adult novel which has been very successful. I enjoyed Cabot’s other book – Boy Meets Girl which I had previously reviewed on my blog. They both share a lot of similar elements, so if you liked Boy Meets Girl, you’d love The Boy Next Door. I just finished reading this book a couple of days ago and I tell you – it’s really charming! It has such a fascinating plot which features an office setting while incorporating the characters’ after-office hours activities.
This book is funny, witty and there are a lot of laughs in there for everyone – even for guys! The story is engaging and immediately hooks you from start. The author uses everyday conversational tone to tell this story – in email exchanges between the characters. I give Mel Cabot a lot credit for the writing style she used. Even though the entire book is written in email format without a lot of descriptions and narratives, I was still able to bond with the characters and watch them evolve.
I admired Mel’s naiveté and innocence but on certain occasions, I wanted her to be objective and not over analyze things seeing that she might still be emotionally fragile having been recently dumped by her boyfriend. Her situation is quite interesting – where most of her classmates are beginning to get married off, she’s getting persistent pressure from her mom to find a husband, together with mounting pressure from her boss over deadlines. On top of all these, she has to worry about her relationship with “Max” which generates a lot of topic for gossip at work with everyone questioning – is this guy indeed for real?
While everything is going on, her best friend Nad remains supportive. This friendship is admirable – Though Nad is engaged and in the process of planning her wedding, and has quite her own issues to deal with, but as best friends, you really can appreciate how she is so helpful and makes herself available to Mel, constantly cheering her on. However, this does not stop Nad from showing her disapproval towards Mel’s action/ inaction as the story develops – (not to give a lot away).
Creating that “Max”‘s mysterious identity was a very clever arc thrown in by the author which helps keep the reader engaged until the final resolution. The characters develop well throughout the book with their natural voice – thus show casing each person’s individual personality. This adds to a relaxing and effortless reading. Her entire cast of characters are realistic and relatable just like in real life, where people have their various personal preferences and idiosyncrasies – these are well portrayed in the story.
While the email exchanges moves the story along pretty well, I love how the author uses delayed email responses to add suspense to the story and at the same time incorporating amusing twists here and there – which in the end wraps up nicely – of course …
The entire book is well written, the tone is upbeat, fun and cheery. I found this book very entertaining with laugh out loud humor. I recommend it to readers of Chick Lit or anyone wanting to explore Chick Lit and stories about women’s lives.
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About The Author –
Meg Cabot is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for both adults and tweens/teens. Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Meg also lived in Grenoble, France and Carmel, California (the setting for her bestselling Mediator series) before moving to New York City after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Indiana University. ~ Author’s website