Oh. My. Goodness. Lynn Painter’s debut novel Better than the Movies is everything you’d want in a romantic comedy story. Talk about squeal worthy!! The enemies to lovers trope? FANTASTIC. The multiple references to age old romantic comedies? AMAZING. The killer kissing scenes and realizations of love? SWOON-WORTHY. I loved it loved it. Honestly couldn’t put it down until they kissed. The suspense. The intrigue. The LOVE. The scheming. It was all to die for. Like biting into a piece of really good chocolate cake and having it flood your taste buds with flavor and pure serotonin. Like opening a Christmas present to find out that it’s the thing you’ve been wanting for forever but never thought you’d get. Like… well you get the picture.
It starts out with Wes and Liz fighting over at The Spot, a parking spot right outside their neighboring houses. They fight dirty and really have a good rapport with each other, although Liz hates his guts. For as long as she can remember, Wes has been the ‘naughty’ boy-next-door, the ‘bad boy’ her mother warned her off of. When Liz enlists Wes’s help to attract the attention of her childhood crush who just moved back to town, they start to spend a lot more time together, even pretending to date each other to make her crush interested in Liz.
Immediately in the book, Lynn goes into detail about what it’s like to lose your mother and the grief that follows such a huge loss for years afterwards, and she continues this trend throughout the novel, really allowing readers to connect and sympathize with Liz. While sad in some parts, Liz’s visits to the cemetery and feelings of missing out on a life experience are necessary to make Liz the lovable character she is.
Wes’s annoying boy-next-door behavior is endearing and entertaining, and adds a fun twist to the typical trope, making this more of an enemies to lovers story as opposed to a boy-next-door story. You’ll easily fall in love with this book boyfriend, and realize his amazingness alongside Liz (although it takes her a bit to admit it to herself).
Thinking back on the book gives me happy jitters. I loved the plot and the characters, the dialogue and the description. I highly recommend flipping to the back of the book and listening to the Wes and Liz playlist Lynn has compiled while reading it (if you can read while listening to music). Liz has a soundtrack going through her mind as different events play out, and it really adds an extra element to the overall impactfulness of the book.
10/10 would recommend this book to lovers of YA romance. My rating? 4.5 stars.
You can order your copy of Better than the Movies through the following links:
Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble
In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.
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.