What If It’s Us

What If It's UsWhat If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Digital ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

I was up until 5am finishing this book. I did make the mistake of starting sometime around midnight, so that’s mostly on me, but the fact that it had me up so late has got to say something. I mean I’m a night owl, but I’m also supposed to function during the day.

I wasn’t surprised that this book would be the one to keep me up so late (early?). I mean, Adam Silvera’s writing alone is enough to keep me up, and when it’s paired with Becky Albertalli? I struggle to think of a more fitting pair for this story. On a pure technical level, they hit a really nice note with this dual POV novel. Their writing styles were distinct enough that it was easy to keep track of which character’s head you were in, but similar enough that it felt like the same book.

I actually struggled to pick a favourite voice (character was a different matter, but I’ll get to that later). Becky’s voice for Arthur was endearing and eager and awkward, and immediately drew me in. It was her chapter that started this mess of a night, because I only intended to skim the first chapter to get an idea of what I was going to be in for. But Adam’s voice for Ben just felt so real? And funny, really funny. I know people say the references and slang will date it, but honestly the slang really helped Ben’s pov feel like a real teenage boy.

Chaaaracter wise… I’ve gotta say that I absolutely adored Ben. He was such a good character, with so much going on and a lot of really deep and genuine problems. I liked that his feelings were a little slower to develop, and that he was distracted by the shit that was going on in his life. He was so soft, I loved his sim playing (and the Arthur sim!) and the book that he wrote for himself. I also adored his family, and how warm and lovely they were.

Arthur, though… In the nicest of ways, when I read Arthur through Ben’s pov I was certain that I liked him, but reading Arthur’s pov I swung back and forth. Ben’s affection for him, and his growing soft spot made Arthur come off that much sweeter. Arthur was eager and trying his best but conscious of Ben, and just a sweet eager kid.

But Arthur’s pov itself… I liked his voice a lot! I liked his commentary and his crush on Ben was so sweet, I honestly adored him for at least the first half of the book. But as the drama started to build, it seemed like it was always coming from Arthur. I’m honestly not sure if it’s just because he seemed to narrate some of the more dramatic scenes, or if his personality was more dramatic, but sometimes he was a little over the top. I mean, (spoiler)the whole melt down because Ben ran late and they missed out on something that was never even promised? His reaction to his friends?(spoiler) It’s not that it was unrealistic, just that compared to how steadfast Ben seemed, it made Arthur seem ungrateful. Which made him not unlikeable, but less loveable (personally).

That being said, my favourite character in the entire book was Dylan. I know, it surprised me too. But he was such a funny kid?? And such a sweet heart, and he had one of the most interesting backstories with his heart problems and his over the top crushes and short lived relationships. Have I mentioned that he was funny yet? His quips were my favourite lines of the book, I loved how comfortable he was in his friendship and sexuality to make the most casual passes at Ben. He was such a good best friend, like unlike a lot of YA character best friends, it felt like he genuinely cared about Ben. Also he low key reminded me of Lance from Voltron, so I was extra weak I want more characters like Dylan.

The plot itself was sweet. I’m a sucker for a meet cute, and it’s honestly so nice to see a soft sweet book with two male leads where they just get to fall in love. I guess my only complaint is that I don’t get why they tried so hard. I mean even the blurb says they don’t nail their first dates, and their initial meeting was cute but too brief for them to be so sure that they’re meant to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked that they tried, and that they showed the messy side of relationships. I really appreciate a YA that isn’t all rainbows and perfect dates and earth shattering kisses. But the first dates were… high key awkward, and yet they were so determined? Like I feel like even if a couple agreed to give it a couple more shots to get it right because of their initial chemistry it’d be more of a “uuh is this gonna work?” than a “WE’RE DESTINED”.

Again, I really do like that they tried, and it was messy and not perfect and there was drama. Because that’s what dating is like, honestly, and it’s exhausting to read perfect romance after perfect romance. I just wanted to see a bit more of why they were sticking to it, because the whole “the universe says so” didn’t really sell it for me. But maybe that’s just me.

The only other problem I had with this book was the epilogue. And this is a 180 for me because as much as I like messy and real it wasn’t at all what I hoped for. (spoiler)It broke my heart for it to end on such a unpromising note? Like I know it’s open and it’s hopeful for the future that they might meet again, but to sell me on (spoiler) I mean I think this is more just a personal choice, or based on my own expectations of the genre. But even just (spoiler) some promise that they’d come together, even if it doesn’t work out. Like Arthur with a plane ticket like see you in two weeks? would have been enough for my soft heart.(spoiler) I mean I knew Adam being an author on this book meant I had to expect to get hurt at some point… I just hadn’t expected it to be like this.

All that griping aside, the book was so sweet. As much as the universe thing made me raise my eyebrows, I also ate it up, and I devoured the book in general. Ben and Arthur, when they finally worked it out, were a soft and sweet couple. Their exploration of consent and sexuality was done SO WELL, and it was really good to see that in YA book that is most definitely going to go big. I was genuinely upset by the threat of the holiday coming to a close and getting in the way of their happiness. I also couldn’t put it down (if that wasn’t obvious).

I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a romance, but not necessarily committed to the YA idealised version of romance. And for a laugh.

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