Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy
Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends – the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art – and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?
First sentence: “Truth (according to Edward Willing): People who rely on first sight are either lazy or deluded.
Truth (according to Ella Marino): I fell in love with Edward Willing the first time I saw him.”
From those two lines, I was immediately intrigued because I am Edward Willing. (And I mean our views on first sight.) The Fine Art of Truth or Dare is a surprisingly cute story about a teenage girl who’s obsessed with a dead painter and yearns to know him better (as he fits her criteria of her prince charming), and all the while, is dealing with her insecurities and her feelings for the popular guy in school. We’ve all been there (the latter half of that summary), so maybe that’s the main reason why I enjoyed it? Because I can see my teen years flash before my eyes (albeit, I didn’t go to a school similar to Ella’s).
- Chapter 1
I applaud The Fine Art of Truth or Dare for misleading me. It’s certainly not the biggest mystery in the world since it’s pretty obvious if you read the synopsis, which I did not do. A major “WUTTT” emerged from my mouth because I honestly did not expect Ella’s crush Edward Willing to be, you know,I am naive and I find it refreshing to see this trickery because it makes me appreciate the book and makes me look forward to those instances when he’s mentioned.
- Relatable Ella
That’s one of the great things about Ella. What teenage girl hasn’t crush on a guy they shouldn’t (because he’s in a totally different clique/class)? That was me in high school. At times, the way that Ella dealt with her insecurities is so realistic. Ella can get a bit frustrating, especially when she belittles herself and lets her insecurities get in the way of what’s in front of her. I can’t exactly fault her because I behaved the same way as a teenager. I like that she realizes that Alex and her dead painter are different than what she expected them to be, shattering the stereotypes she held to them, and she gets mad at herself because it’s no longer a safety blanket. People are more than what they seem, like there is more to Ella than her scar.
- History of Edward Willing
I am always fascinated when books create an in-depth history of its schools and of its important fictional figures like Edward Willing. To me, the inclusion of his history makes The Fine Art of Truth or Dare more bearable to read because history is awesome! I honestly wouldn’t mind it if the entire book was about Edward Willing’s history. I just like seeing Ella researching more about him and seeing how different he is from Ella’s preconceived notions of him.
- Slow-build romance
As you might know, YA romances usually irritate me because the romance is, most of the type, fast and unbelievable. However, I appreciate the romance in The Fine Art in Truth or Dare. Most people may be annoyed that the romance her is incredibly slow, but I like it. It was the popular guy noticing the main character all of a sudden and they fall madly in love with each other. No, Alex and Ella’s relationship starts because Ella needs a French tutor, and Alex is assigned to be that tutor. They gradually become friends and once they get romantically involved, I like that Ella was still hesitant about why Alex wants to be with her, but Alex proves himself over and over again. And the rest is history.
- The stereotypes.
If you blink, I can assure you that you won’t miss the stereotypes thrown at you about the Willing School and the rich people who go there. You’ll see the poor invisible main character, the shiny rich popular dude, the mean overbearing ex-girlfriend of the shiny popular dude, over-the-top Italian family members, and the various cliques that are called different names — the Phillites (the rich and the sporty), the Bees (the useful/artistic bunch), the Stars (the smart ones), and the Invisibles (the outcasts). But, the stereotypes do serve a purpose in the story. There is more to these characters than what Ella sees. I just wish there was more depth to the side characters because other than Ella, Alex, and Edward, they were all predictable and over-the-top.
- Everybody disappears
I feel like the other characters disappear once Ella and Alex get together. Frankie and Sadie (Ella’s best friends) conveniently disappear, which kind of sucks because I wanted to read more about Ella’s friendship with them. We never get to see how other people (beside Frankie) react to Ella and Alex being together. It just seems like nobody but the two exist in the book.
If you like art history, an extremely relatable main character, a realistic romance that doesn’t rush itself, and things that are light and easy to read, then I think The Fine Art of Truth or Dare may be a good book for you, but know that it isn’t like Anna and the French Kiss or Pretty in Pink. (Just get rid of those expectations because it’ll disappoint otherwise.) Also, it’s a bit predictable and I lost my interest once Ella and Alex got together. You know how it goes.