Title: Technically, You Started It
Author: Lana Wood Johnson
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Genre(s): YA, Realistic Contemporary,
Source: Amazon, Audible
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When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.
A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.
There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .
*I received this ARC free at BookCon in exchange for an honest review.*
So, we have another mistaken identity, online, kinda enemies-to-friends-to-lovers YA romance. How does it hold up?
As someone who hasn’t been into contemporary much recently, I found myself enjoying this one. I was mostly intrigued to see how the author was going to handle the mistaken identity aspect of this book as we’ve seen this trope done before and mostly done the same way.
Haley – Haley is our main character and protagonist of this book. Overall, I enjoyed reading from her perspective, well chat history. She reads like a normal teenage girl and I appreciated that her reactions didn’t feel over the top. There were a few moments where I wanted her and Martin to just communicate better, but overall I enjoyed reading about her.
Martin – Martin was a surprise joy for me to read about. He reads like a fun guy that’s able to hang out with the blended friend group but has that softer side when alone (I thought of like 4 guys from my high school days that were like what I was picturing Martin to be, tbh). Again, other than the communication thing, I thought he was a solid secondary protagonist.
The plot of this one starts off as your basic text-to-friendship-to-feelings story. The synopsis includes that Haley is not talking to the Martin she thinks she is and even if that wasn’t included, I think it’s pretty obvious for the reader at times. I’m not going to lie, I don’t love that trope, though I didn’t mind it here. Mostly that’s due to the reveal of how Haley found out which Martin she had been talking to.
I’m not going to lie, that reveal bit got a bit dramatic and kind of lost me. There were some tropes used during that bit, but I thought the way Martin and Haley resolved this mistaken identity bit was handled pretty well.
I think one thing readers may find issue with is really the lack of the plot in this book. Due to the entire story taking place in text messages, this book is more character driven and less plot centered. There are events that happen over a definitive timeline, but that’s not a main focus of the book.
I like how this felt like an organic friendship forming between these two teens that don’t usually talk. As someone that’s had these friendships arise unexpectedly, I enjoyed how the random conversations and digressions dictated this dialogue. I also appreciated what a fast read this book was. Due to the format, I was able to fly through this one in a matter of hours.
I personally don’t consider a character’s sexuality to be a spoiler, that being said, Haley’s sexuality is not referred to by name until the end of the book. If that’s something you’d count as a spoiler, then you might want to skip over this section.
About halfway through the book, Martin and Haley are talking about their sexuality after taking a quiz their mutual friend gave to them. Martin comes out to Haley as bisexual, stating that he can usually fall for a girl without much thought but needs a deeper connection before falling for a guy.
Haley describes her sexuality as needing a strong connection with someone before she can consider romantic or sexual feelings for them. It isn’t until the end of the book where Haley learns of demisexuality and identifies as such, which I loved to see. As someone who was familiar with the identity, I was wondering if this is where the author was going with it. I was really happy to see Haley discover this sexuality and feel comfortable identifying with it in text. Also reading able Haley’s metaphorical sigh of relief when she found an identity that fit her and no longer made her feel “like something was wrong” was really sweet to read about.
While there were plenty of things to enjoy in this book, I just felt that it read a bit juvenile for my liking. I get that YA is “supposed” to be for younger readers, but with two protagonists in the summer before their senior year, the writing on this one just felt a bit simple. I also didn’t love the slightly overdramatic ending when Haley finds out Martin’s identity. It wasn’t the worst way I’ve seen this bit done, but it still wasn’t my favorite.
If you like fluffy contemporary books that are easy one-sitting reads, you’ll probably enjoy this one. But in my mind, other than the surprise rep, I didn’t see anything too special about this one that sets it apart from other contemporary books I’ve read.