“Nina had looked around and realized she would never run out of things to read, and that certainty filled her with peace and satisfaction. It didn’t matter what hit the fan; as long as there were unread books in the world, she would be fine.”
This book was a huge disappointment. On paper, it sounded really fun and relatable, something cute and easy to fly through. Unfortunately, though, it was none of those things. Instead, it was cliche, boring, lacking, cringey, and very disappointing. I kind of want to give it 1.5 star now, but my initial gut reaction was 2 stars.
I have a lot of issues with this book, but mostly I just could not connect to it. I couldn’t connect to the writing or the characters. I never cared about the plot, including the romance, and everything just fell flat for me.
The major tagline and hook is how “bookish” the main character Nina is. She has so many books and works in a bookstore and lives alone with a cat and is very introverted and awkward. Immediate cringe. Ugh, Nina was such a walking stereotype. She was written with zero personality, because apparently the author thinks “liking books and having anxiety” is enough of one. The whole thing was SO gimmicky. I was immediately turned off by her behavior and pretty much everything about her. On top of that, she was extremely rude, judgmental, and inconsistent as a character. You can’t have your MC breaking down from a panic attack and blushing at every word a boy says in one scene, and then switch to having her all over said guy for casual sex and starting a brawl in a bar. It just doesn’t make sense and doesn’t work like that.
The other characters were certainly not any better. They were all so cliche and inauthentic. The family Nina meets for the first time in her life is somehow just like her in terms of anxiety, trivia, and books. Except for the token Mean Girl character. The one gay man is portrayed exactly how you would expect to roll your eyes at. The mom is a cold-hearted career woman, but the nanny that raised Nina is a squishy Southern grandma who makes tea when they chat. Every child in this freaking book spoke like some weather guru or 35 year old pal. Certainly not like ACTUAL CHILDREN. The one that was supposed to be 6 and talking about death and love and relationships? Oh fuck offf. It was all so annoying. And if the characters weren’t given some over-the-top caricature, then they barely had a presence at all.
Which brings me to the love interest, Tom. He even has the most vanilla-ass name like god you couldn’t have thought of anything more interesting?? This dude is literally such a bore. He is Nina’s trivia team rival and apparently loves her without having met her for no other reason than that she’s a know-it-all and is small. Seriously, why is he so obsessed with her smallness? Because of course she’s tiny, even though she never works out, and she’s so unusual looking why of course its some rare beauty that she doesn’t believe she possesses 🙄🙄🙄. And when she treats Tom like crap because he doesn’t read and has the audacity to ask her out when her schedule literally says she doing “nothing,” he just keeps on trying with her. The only time he does get mad and leave is when she is having a genuine panic attack, which is all around yikes. There is 100%, absolutely, no questions asked ZERO chemistry between these two. This had the potential to have some great banter between enemies-to-lovers or angst, if the author wanted to play up the miscommunication element. But nah. There was nothingggggg holding my attention or connecting me to the romance.
Aside from the characters, the other parts of the book didn’t really work for me either. I did enjoy some of the writing and some of the themes here, hence the 2 star rating. I liked the whimsical tone that the author wrote with for the first hundred or so pages and some parts were quite funny. I did enjoy the commentary on finding family, growing out of your comfort zone, and staying true to yourself. There were some accurate and relatable lines about owning and loving books, but they were few and far between. For the most part, the weaker elements of the writing stood out to me way more. Right off the bat, I hated how the narrator was talking to the reader and breaking the 4th wall like that. It is such a jarring and irritating choice. I do not like how it tries to be all cutesy and hand-holdy, like “come on listen to this quaint, charming little tale about a quirky bookworm finding love and family.” Nope, fuck off mate. The only thing worse that that was the talking cat!!!! WHY?! Absolutely ridiculous. The horribly nonsensical and neatly-wrapped-up ending, the fake sounding dialogue, the inconsistent characterization and plot, the suspension of disbelief required, and the general feeling from the author of, *nudge nudge* It’s a story about a book lover! Didn’t I just nail it?? So shy and quirky!! *wink wink* killed it for me. 🤮
This was an annoying, unenjoyable, dull, and forgettable story trying to appeal to readers on a very superficial level. I’d recommend skipping it.
What did you guys think?? I know I am sort of in the minority here.
Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Genre: Adult | Romance | Contemporary | Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Chick-Lit
Publication Date: July 9th, 2019
Page Count: 351 pages
Buy It: Wordery | Book Depository