Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other. Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator’s block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce. They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other…a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?
A f/f enemies-to-lovers book. Did I really need anymore than that for it to shoot up to the top of the list of books I wanted to read? It really didn’t. Any queer book is automatically on the list of books I want to read and this one was no different. Two artists, who are completely different hate each other in real life, but unknowingly connect on a fanfic site where the co-create a graphic novel. I just, I felt like and still feel like screaming when I hear the synopsis. Trigger warnings: depression, anxiety
I am very happy to report that I very much enjoyed this book. While there were a few things that I didn’t love, my overall enjoyment of this book was very positive. It’s extremely queer and extremely willing to look at harsh emotions and complicated characters.
This book was messy, and I wasn’t expecting it to be. I wish trigger warnings were more common the front of the book, because I wasn’t expecting some of the heavy emotions, but that’s a different conversation. Though, despite my initial wariness, I ended up really liking everything emotional about this book. It’s complicated and it’s messy. Iliana isn’t afraid to take up space. She’s blunt and she’s unapologetic, and she has to figure out those things factor into her decisions and her life. Rhodes has depression. She’s struggling with what she wants to do with her life and trying to find what she loves. She really just wants everybody to leave her alone. She also has to figure out how those things factor into her life and into her decisions.
A lot of times things didn’t work out great because the characters didn’t make super great decisions, but I also really liked that. They learned and it wasn’t easy, but they made through to the other side. They were able to decide where they wanted to end up and how they were going to deal with how they ended up. It felt really real.
There were a lot of complicated feelings in this book, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them, but there were some that just threw me off. I couldn’t quite get where friendships stood or why certain things were happening. I felt like I needed a bit more explanation, a bit more development, or a bit more background information. I felt like I needed all the characters involved to be a bit more fleshed out to really get what they were going through together.
I really, really enjoyed the art aspect of this book. I just found it fascinating. And I loved how many different kinds there were and how each character had a different relationship and love for it. It just felt very full and very well done.
Speaking of art, there were some comics in this book! I thought there would be more, but I still thought the ones there were there were really great. This is an ARC, so maybe more will be in the finished copy!
I also really, really loved the writing of this book. It’s so good. I was immediately pulled in and invested. This book has a certain feel to it and the writing wastes no time letting you know what that is. Birch is a truly talented writer and it shows in this book.
This book is hate-to-love, it’s right there in the synopsis. But wow, it’s HATE-to-love. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two characters, in this kind of trope, hate each other so viciously before. It was so intense that I was honestly kind of shocked in how strong it was. Iliana and Rhodes truly, truly hate each other.
And for me, it was just a bit too intense and bit too vicious. They were just mean to each other, so much so that it kind of threw off their connection to me. Though, I also felt like their connection could have been deeper as well. I felt like it wasn’t developed enough. I felt like they didn’t get to know each other enough as each other, and then online it’s an already established relationship. I couldn’t fully fall into their relationship because I felt like I didn’t quite get all of their feelings. I think I wanted them to interact more, to get to know each other more.
In the end, I thought this was a really great book. It’s apologetically queer and unafraid to be messy. It’s filled with art and amazing writing. It’s definitely one to check out!