There should really be a word for when you are simultaneously super disappointed yet super enraged. Or enraged because something is so ridiculously disappointing. Because that is what I felt about the second book by Sandhya Menon, author of the illustrious When Dimple Met Rishi, and From Twinkle, With Love. I don’t do review-type posts a lot on this blog, but I need to do another one and break down what exactly it was about this book that so enraged me. I wanted to love it, I really did. I pined for it until there were ARCs, requested and was granted an ARC, then started reading it and was…not enjoying it. Let me tell you why.
- Twinkle is so annoying! This is obviously one of the biggest issues, since she narrates the book. I just found her very naive and immature, more MG than YA. I don’t have a problem with the parts where she starts lashing out at people like other readers did, because I don’t think teen girl protagonists have to be or should be perfect, and I think her reactions are realistic. However, I also thought the way she thought about her life problems was very juvenile and basic and stereotypical, with very basic views of the school hierarchy.
- The Neil stuff. This goes back to Twinkle being annoying, but I found the whole “interest” in Neil to be very unnecessary, honestly. It only annoyed me more that it was so obvious from the beginning that she only wanted to be with him because he was pretty and popular, so it just irked me that she held onto it so long, especially since she realizes very early on that she has real feelings for Sahil, which brings me to my next point.
- The pacing of the romance. It felt…off. Because Twinkle realizes she’s crushing on Sahil so early in the book, it just…took the excitement of the romance away for me. I didn’t even care about N because I knew she would end up with Sahil (which I guess I knew from the synopsis, but it’s still an author’s job to keep up the suspense in a romance, I think), so all of that muddied up the relationship plot, and it happened too fast for me to become truly invested.
- The format. I did not care for the diary format, mostly because I didn’t think the fact that she was writing to female filmmakers was relevant enough. She basically just names them and doesn’t or barely talks about them. Then there were Sahil’s very lame blog posts, which didn’t read as genuinely his voice to me, and the texts between him and his friends that made the romance even more painfully and boringly obvious.
- Twinkle’s “passion” for film. I honestly didn’t feel Twinkle’s passion for film throughout the entire story. Though she writes to filmmakers who are women, she doesn’t elaborate on them at all, so her knowledge and passion for film doesn’t come through. The movie seemed to be a very side plot in comparison to the romance, too, which didn’t help either. All we knew about Twinkle and film is that she has this youtube channel that she doesn’t even talk about in her own entries, Sahil just talks about it, and that she wants to smash the patriarchy, which just came off as cliche.
- The characters in general. For the most part, the characters, including Twinkle, read as really flat and one-dimensional. The side characters were all based on high school stereotypes, Sahil only seemed interested in film and Twinkle, and we’ve already been over how bored but enraged I was by actual Twinkle. The character I was somewhat interested in was Maddie, because it was clear she was dealing with a lot, and I found myself wishing the book had been written about her instead.
I debated DNFing this one, but it would’ve broken my heart to do so even though I obviously didn’t like it because I loved Dimple so much. Compared to Menon’s debut, From Twinkle, With Love read as super juvenile, flat, and unexciting, and I was thoroughly unimpressed.