Two different storylines about one party may result in a "who cares?" shrug. Cassandra Castillo is throwing a party at her house, and it's a golden opportunity for Simon. He's been in love with her since freshman year, and senior year is nearly over. So Simon's plan is simple: He'll get a kiss from Cassie and confess his love, even though his friends Ben and Coop tell him to forget her. Thus begins two alternating, complicated storylines, denoted for readers by different typefaces, as Simon attempts to woo Cassie. In one, there's dancing and a session of Q-and-A beer pong before Simon can tell Cassie how he feels. The less realistic storyline features a strange girl, Stella--who just might be perfect for Simon--and Simon dressing in drag. In addition to the expected drinking, drugs, rude humor and fights, Hutchinson throws in Coop and Ben's worries about sex ruining their relationship and strange interactions with Cassie's ex. In only one storyline will Simon kiss Cassie, but in both he'll find that this party has changed his life. Bland characters and plot gimmicks make this an empty-calories book. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Pity 17-year-old Simon Cross: he’s spent his high school years pining for gorgeous Cassie Castillo and, apart from one confusing date, she’s remained out of reach. But now Cassie is single, not acting like herself, and throwing a rager of a party. Reluctantly helped by his best-friends-turned-boyfriends, Coop and Ben, Simon is determined to kiss Cassie and reveal his feelings for her. Hutch-inson (The Deathday Letter) splits the alcohol-drenched evening into two alternating narratives. One, labeled “Living the Dream,” casts Simon as a quasi-heroic figure, facing school bullies and jerks (and Cassie’s ex) as he pursues her; in the other, “Reality Bites,” Simon meets a quirky girl named Stella who helps him plot his kiss. Hutchinson doesn’t push the differences between Simon’s real and imagined versions of the party all that far, and it can be difficult to track which conversations and misadventures take place where. The raucous party antics and bawdy banter provide laughs, but the overlap between the threads somewhat defeats the purpose of the conceit, as both paths basically result in the same outcomes and realizations, albeit in different ways. Ages 14–up. (June)
"In only one storyline will Simon kiss Cassie, but in both he’ll find that this party has changed his life."
Gr 9 Up—Tonight is the night. Cassie dumped her boyfriend, is single, and is throwing a huge party. Simon's plan is simple. Find Cassie, confess his love, make her fall in love with him, and kiss her. Simon's friends, Coop and Ben, try to talk him out of it. The 17-year-old has been obsessed with Cassie for years and everyone knows it. He can't help it though. Every girl pales in comparison. The story alternates between two possible scenarios. In the first, "Living the Dream," Simon heads directly to Cassie's party with Coop and Ben and attempts to put his plan into action. In the second, "Reality Bites," he decides to ride with Natalie, a girl who seems interested in him. He hopes this will be the beginning of getting over Cassie, but the idea backfires. Both story lines lead to the party and, ultimately, Simon's mission. He is focused on kissing Cassie and all but ignores warning signs from her and others as the night becomes crazier and crazier in both scenarios. Simon's friends have their own issues, which makes the novel even more interesting. The plot is entertaining enough to keep the pages turning.—Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL