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Out of Bounds by A. R. Barley
I was immediately interested in this book when I read the blurb. I’m not sure why but roommate stories really work for me‐ although, there aren’t that many of them, and even fewer that work super well. But that’s what this book is‐ a romance between roommates, but with a bit of a twist. Jesse is a sophomore at college who was attacked by his roommate. Directly afterward, he’s moved into a different room in a different dorm. He can feel safe there, but he does have to deal with his new roommate, Nick. Nick has a tough exterior, but Jesse soon discovers he’s basically a teddy bear otherwise. And the sparks start to fly‐ although Jesse is still really nervous about trusting anyone after his last experience.
So, this… worked for me in a lot of ways, and didn’t in some others. It’s captivating. There’s no doubt about it. The writing is, ehh, ok, but there’s something about it or the story or that characters that completely drew me in. I just wanted to keep reading and reading.
And it’s fun. I liked that it was fluffy and mostly light and really fun. Who doesn’t like a book like that? And it was all those things. But I kind of disliked that this particular book was all that, too. It deals with some very, very heavy themes. And I felt like those themes were… almost more a plot device to push Nick and Jesse together, more than they were there to tell a story or develop characters or, you know, be themes. I feel like those kind of difficult themes probably merit a bit more, I don’t know, depth. But on the other hand, I didn’t at all think that the author took those themes lightly. She just didn’t quite delve into them. So the overall fluff of the story certainly didn’t make me uncomfortable.
I could have done with a bit more character development, too. Jesse is fine and likeable but he’s kind of boring and stereotypical. There wasn’t anything that made him stand out to me. It was also surprising to me how his confidence wavered throughout the book. In the beginning, he’s basically terrified of Nick, after his last roommate attacked him. This makes sense. But other times, without following much of an arc, he’s extremely brave, maybe even reckless. Nick, on the other hand, I really did enjoy. He was very interesting and well thought out. His back story was revealed slowly and gave him a lot of depth, which I enjoyed in his character.
The writing itself was, like I said, okay. It had a definite flow to it. It was smooth. But there wasn’t anything particular spectacular about it, and there was a TON of repetition. If I had to read the words ‘cherry lip balm’ one more time… Lots of other descriptive phrases were reused time and again as well. This makes for annoying reading, although it wasn’t anything I couldn’t get over.
So that’s me nitpicking. But overall, I really did enjoy this. It was sweet. Definitely worth reading. I’m excited to see what this author does next.
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