By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on January 31st, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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?
After loving P.S. I Like You and hating The Fill-In Boyfriend, I wasn’t sure how to feel going into this book. Would it be adorable and cute or frustrating and cringey?
It turned out to be a bit of both.
What I Liked
Dax. Dax was honestly a pretty compelling character, and turned out to be my favorite character in the story. He was independent and closed off, yet he had this soft gooey center that made me want to love him. At first I was a little confused by his motivations, but as the story went on and I began to understand him better, he really grew on me. Also, he ACTUALLY READ in the library (unlike the other characters, which kind of made the whole plot questionable… but I’ll talk more about that later).
The relationship between Dax and Autumn was pretty cute. It definitely followed the hurt-closed-off-guy-opens-up-to-spoilt-rich-girl-who-secretly-has-problems trope, but it was done pretty well. I really liked how organic the relationship seemed (even if the part where them getting stuck in the library was… um… unlikely?)
I also liked the pacing of the book. It wasn’t too slow, but it wasn’t super fast either. And the plot was not too complex, but had a lot of complexity to it.
What I Didn’t Like
Jeff. He was the boy that Autumn was pining over, and honestly he didn’t do much except annoy me. Even though he was made out to be a fun, likeable, and go-lucky kind of guy, I couldn’t bring myself to care about him in the slightest. He felt too much like a cut-out, and it definitely didn’t help that his “best friend” was literally an exact copy of him (except of course the best friend didn’t like Autumn at all).
I honestly didn’t really like any of the characters except Dax. All of Autumn’s friends were boring, and I couldn’t even differentiate between them. And, at some point, there was a little bit of drama when one of the friends told Autumn that another one liked Jeff… and then it was never mentioned again. Like what was the point of that?!?
I also really didn’t like the parents in this book. They were all frustrating and pointless. Even Dax’s mom, who was built up so much, was a complete letdown. Then there were some loose ends left with her. DID THEY MAKE UP? DID DAX TELL HER OFF? The world may never know.
Also can we take a minute and talk about the library? What the hell?!? First of all, the whole Autumn being left behind thing was stupid and improbable. I just can’t see that happening in real life. Secondly, the very first thing I would think of in that situation would be pulling the fire alarm. It was SO FRUSTRATING waiting for Autumn to come up with that on her own. It kind of ruined the whole first part of the book for me.
And then, Dax was honestly kind of annoying about the fire alarm. Like just let the girl get out and hide if you don’t want to be seen. It’s not like they are going to search the library once they realize that she pulled the alarm because she was stuck in there.
And then the whole plot when she finally got out of the library. I mean, I guess I could see how that would happen, but it was all just a little much to believe.
And then Jeff’s mom. Oh MY GOSH she was the worst. I actually kind of wanted to strangle her. I get that she was just clinging onto any hope (given her situation that I won’t tell you more about becuase #nospoilers), but it was so unrealistic and annoying.
Let’s also take a minute to talk about Autumn’s anxiety disorder. She kept it a secret from her friends because she didn’t want them to look at her differently. UMMMMM. Honey. If you are scared to tell your “best” friend(s) something like that then are you sure that they are really your friends? I get that talking about stuff like that can be scary sometimes, but that’s something that people talk about with their friends. You should see how much I talk to my friends about stuff like that. It’s called building a support system.
And I guess it wasn’t even that I had the hardest time believing that she would keep it from her friends (although it was pretty stupid).What really annoyed me about Autumn’s Anxiety™ was how much she whined about it. Literally half the book was her complaining about her anxiety and then refusing to do anything about it.
“Oh my gosh my anxiety is so bad and it holds me back from life but I don’t want help I just want to suffer in silence please and make my friends think I’m a terrible flake instead of facing my problems. But you know I’m gonna whine about it 24/7 and wonder why this is happening to ME. I’m also going to ignore my parents and brother trying to help me because they JUST DON’T understand my mind.”
– My impression of Autumn for 90% of the book
As you can probably tell by the amount of good vs. bad things I had to say about By Your Side, this wasn’t my favorite book. It wasn’t the worst thing that I’ve ever read, but I don’t think I’m going to be picking up anything by Kasie West for quite a while.
I am going to give By Your Side two out of five hearts.
Talk to me! Have you ever read By Your Side? What did you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with what I had to say? Let me know in the comments below!