Author: Kasie West
Published: expected January 31 2017
Source: publishers via edelweiss
In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?
Kasie West has a knack for churning out fun and shippy contemporary YA reads, but even a veteran such as she is not foolproof. Her fifth young adult romance is her first to merit less than four-star reaction. By Your Side is not what I would even call a bad book, but it also lacks the spark her other books have had in spades. It's generic and even at about three hundred fifty pages feels too extended; more premise than actual plot. I liked By Your Side enough for 3-stars out of five but definitely found this to be the weakest effort yet from an established writer.
The characters of Autumn and Dax are moderately well-drawn, if very stereotypical; but as usual, West's characters have personality and charm to spare. The main issue with By Your Side is the plot anchoring the romance between the two opposites. It was too minimal and predictable from the moment the couple meets one another. Readers know exactly what will happen with these characters, but it's also a simple guess to predict how the story will progress to achieve that point. A little more inventiveness and substance would have gone a long way to help readers engage with the story.
(Also... can we get a nonhetero/interracial romance? All her books are so straight and white...)
I liked this book, but I doubt I will reread it in the future, or remember it a year from now. Not bad but not her best.