“You start with nothing and maybe end with everything”
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?
2 / 5
I really enjoyed Silvera’s They Both Die At the End and many years ago (before it was cool!) I read and adored Albertalli’s Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Unfortunately, I didn’t very much like what these two excellent authors created when they worked together. I wanted to love it. I expected to enjoy it. Instead I constantly got mixed up between the main leads, Ben and Arthur, and felt cringed-out rather than captivated by their romance.
I’m not cool. Take this morning. I made the mistake of glancing up at the sky, just for a moment, and now I can’t unstick my eyes
Arthur is in New York for the summer, working for his mum’s law firm as an intern. He doesn’t seem to like it much, since he never actually goes to work. Ben is emotionally destroyed after his ex-boyfriend Hudson cheats on him with another guy because he thought they were broken up, and now the two of them have to go to summer school together. Ben and Arthur meet at the post office when Ben is trying to post Hudson’s things back to him.
No question, the beginning was cute. Arthur is adorably touristy, the whole setting has a feel of the absurd, and there’s this sort of deterministic vibe in the hopeful air. Then Ben and Arthur part, without getting each other’s full names or numbers. Arthur engages in what would have probably merited a restraining order level stalking and Ben pines over his ex. Not much happens until they meet again over a hundred pages later.
I don’t know if we’re in a love story or a story about love
What I wasn’t fond of at all was how petty most of Ben and Arthur’s romantic tiffs were. Yeah, the two of them have some legitimate complaints – how Arthur disrespects Ben’s Puerto Rican heritage, how Ben is always late for their dates – but everything is so overblown; it felt like the book was trying to create conflict but didn’t manage to find anything meaningful to argue about so blew minor things way out of proportion. I also found the excessive pop culture references and “nerdification” of Ben and Arthur overbearing – yeah, Ben’s self-insert fan fiction was kind of cute and relatable, but I didn’t care about it that much. Neither am I familiar enough with broadway musicals to make the nods to the fandoms enjoyable.
What did I like? It’s weird – I liked the idea of who Ben and Arthur were. Nerds, sweet and sensitive young men who were falling in love, with diverse backgrounds and kooky interests. Every time I caught glimpses of these people it was great, but most of the time I was trying to remember who’s chapter it was and who’s friend was who’s.
There’s too much jealousy, pettiness and miscommunication for this book to hit the mark for me. I’d recommend it to broadway musical lovers and the younger side of YA readers.
My thanks to Netgalley and the authors for an ARC of this book.