What If It’s Us
by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
If you have been reading my reviews for a while then you would know how much I enjoyed Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Leah on the Offbeat. I really enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s writing style even though it was a bit on the fluffy side. But hey, sometimes you just want some fluff in your life, ok? When I got to know about this book, I had already read both of the above books and I had heard a lot about Adam Silvera’s books. I have yet to read anything of his though.
In any case, by the time I finally got around to the book, my expectations were reasonably high and I was hoping for a really awesome book. I knew it wasn’t unrealistic because I knew Becky Albertalli’s writing and I was prepared for Adam Silvera’s sad boys however what I wasn’t prepared for was the disappointment that came after I finished the book. Throughout the book, my mind kept having the same thought again and again, this would work so much better as a film or a mini series.
It wasn’t a bad book by any means but I just had trouble with the medium it was presented in. Oh, well. This was a clear case of ‘It’s not you, it’s me’, trust me.
Let’s get into the good bits, shall we? I absolutely loved Arthur and Ben and their personalities, they were so distinct and I could totally see them being just them in real life and that’s one of the best things about this book. Arthur’s naivete was endearing but there was also a jealous side to him in ways that showed his young age. I loved that there were visible flaws in him because otherwise, Arthur might have been in danger of being too perfect. Ben was one of those characters that stay with you even after you have finished the book. His was a different sort of effect, he was heartbroken because of his breakup with his ex, he had his problems about being Puerto Rican and his identity revolving around it. His writing, him loving Sims and just being him was such a joy to read, seriously.
This book had some serious Serendipity vibes, you know? They met outside a post office, then they managed to not get each other’s numbers but they meet again anyway because Arthur is one determined guy. The thing I had a problem with…it’s the actual relationship between the main characters. Yes, I am aware that this is about the six weeks before their school started and this relationship sort of had its own set of problems even before it started but there were some actual problems with it. Starting with Ben’s lack of closure with his breakup with his ex. Then, because he was still kind of hung up on his ex, he wasn’t able to give the right amount of attention to Arthur. That, right there, was a big problem for me, it’s realistic, yes but if there were more chemistry between Arthur and Ben, I wouldn’t have minded but unfortunately, there wasn’t.
It all seemed a bit forced for me, there was something missing from their relationship and they both tried too hard to make something out of it. It wasn’t just Ben too. It was Arthur as well. Then after a few failed attempts, suddenly things smoothed out and that part was adorable, as I said, Arthur and Ben on their own really do shine and that patch in the middle where they do get along is really good but. Yes, another but. That wasn’t enough for me to really enjoy their relationship.
Let’s not even go into the ending. After all the drama of their relationships and their past and their trust, the ending fell flat for me. If the ending had been handled a bit more delicately, I could have seen it as a realistic ending and not as a shitty one. Trust me, I wasn’t expecting a Disney ending but the ending I did get was even shittier. It made me like the characters less.
I think the main joy was the friendships in the book, Arthur and his friends as well as Ben and his friends. That saved the book more than anything else, even Ben’s ex was such a well done character. I really loved the way both set of friends worked and how they had friendship breakups and some real awkwardness about things in their personal lives. I also loved Arthur’s parents and their relationship with each other, also, it goes without saying that I loved Ben’s parents too. They were cool, okay?
So, what I am trying to say is that everything works really well in the book except for the actual main relationship and the main characters with each other. They don’t mesh well for me. It’s not a common opinion, I know but it’s the one I formed as I read it. I might re-read it and find it changed later but for now, this is what it is. I gave it three stars because as a book with its main characters and secondary characters, it’s really done well but it’s the relationships and the main characters’ way of dealing with them made me strike out the other two stars.
I also kinda liked the way Adam Silvera writes, I might have to read more of his books soon. As an introduction to his writing, it wasn’t the greatest but it wasn’t bad either. So, overall, a really fluffy but slightly problematic romance that might or might not work for you.