The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington

Publisher: Self-published

Format: Kindle Edition

I gotta admit it: I love angry girls who vanquish the men that decimate them and their too-soft hearts. There is something so satisfying in realizing that even though Bobby Gardiner managed to rip out your heart, stomp on it while laughing, and then move on effortlessly with that blonde haired tramp Chrissy Moore in the 7th grade, well, there are girls out there who are getting even in a big, big way and not letting something as trivial as heart-break stop them from being in control. And contrary to popular belief, I’m not bitter or anything. Just so you know. Not bitter at all. I’m actually happy it happened then because Bobby Gardiner is now fat with a capital F and pining over my facebook pics, Chrissy. So there!

Plot:

Blindsided when her boyfriend Cameron leaves her for her co-worker, Nikki, Poppy does the only thing any sensible, angst-ridden teenaged girl would do. She writes a song about how horrible he and his new girlfriend are, performs it on video, and then posts it to Youtube for all the world to see! Without any effort on her part, the video goes viral. Then she meets Ty, the lead singer for a local band and with very little persuasion, allows him to use her song for a few gigs. Using her song as a springboard, Ty and his band become overnight, international successes and Poppy must deal with falling for him hard, the stress of having a famous boyfriend, and small town ex Cam who still seems to have a thing for her. What’s a girl to do? Two boys, a hot musical career, and far more paparazzi than she ever dreamed of keep Poppy on her toes as she tries to handle everything along with the intricacies of adolescence.

Review:

Ok, straight up: I really liked this book. Granted that happens a lot, but not often does it happen with a book that took me so long to get into. I don’t know if it was the fact that the first chapter threw a lot of weird names at me (think Vanya, Ravi, and Mads) or if it was that I am so over girls getting torn up by watching their exes with their new girlfriends;

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regardless, I found it very hard to motivate myself to push through that first chapter but I am certainly glad I did. After that initial chapter, I could not stop reading. Literally, I read it on a plane all in one sitting. Lucky for me the flight was over 7 hours. Seriously my eyes actually hurt at the end. But that’s because The Kiss Off is fresh and fun and extremely upbeat. It engages you effortlessly. There are some points in the story that could have been mired down in depressing dialogue or action, but Sarah Billington managed to create an atmosphere that wasn’t angry or angsty in any way. Poppy remained a perpetually optimistic albeit snarky character even while doing stupid things like sexting or accusing her boyfriend of cheating on her with a sexy Hollywood harlot. She never became bitter about the way her relationship with Ty worked out and while she was perhaps overly bitter about her break up with Cam, it’s necessary to the plot and therefore excusable. She had a great relationship with her family and generally respected her parents which I have to applaud the author for. Her relationship with Ty felt a bit forced on a occasion and definitely needed a bit more development and couple-y interaction to make it believable. But the amount of tension and longing they felt while he was away on tour certainly made up for the lack of in person sexy times.

Even though Billington is an extremely agile writer and overall I enjoyed (read: devoured) this book, there were a few questionable points that irked me (above and beyond the difficulty I had to get interested in the story during the first chapter). Okay, I’m going to go ahead lay it out there, just rip the band-aid right off and expose it.

1. When foreign authors write about America for an American audience, I don’t expect there to be any weird un-americanisms in there anywhere. It should be seamless. Aussie Sarah makes a great effort but NONE of the characters speak with any slang whatsoever. None. No American teenagers would have such perfect diction. But no, there’s nothing beyond some contractions and believe me, that’s off. I mean, I’m an adult and I throw around “gotta”, “outta”, “shoulda”, “BTW”, and “OMG” almost hourly. But here, nada. Not once do you see a teenager speak one word of slang. It was just plain weird.

2. Speaking of incongruous American elements, this is one that really stuck in my craw: there’s one point where Poppy and Ty speak on the phone while he’s supposedly touring the States but at one point, he actually says something like, “What time is it?” and when Poppy tells him, he’s like, oh right you’re four hours ahead. Hate to be the voice of reason but there’s no point in the contiguous US that is 4 hours away. East Coast is 3 hours ahead of the West. That’s it.

3. And this is perhaps the oddest of all: why didn’t anyone at any time say to Poppy, “Are they paying you for your song because you really deserve royalties?” Not once did her parents or anyone anywhere in her sphere influence mention that maybe the band or recording company or tv shows owed her royalties for use of her song. They didn’t even ask her to sign a contract or anything. Maybe Ellen and I worked at the law firm way too long but I can’t imagine any parent allowing a minor’s work to be plagarized and used so blatantly without recompense. It was just odd.

I realize that making a big deal out of these three things seems like I had major issues with the book and really I didn’t. They just really stuck with me so I had to lay them out there so you wouldn’t be as shocked as I was…or maybe I’m just odd myself for being bothered by them and you simply won’t care. (Please god don’t let me be the odd one here).

So based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 9. Poppy was spunky, snarky, and wicked talented with lyrics and a guitar. She was a bit naive with the whole “getting recognition or royalties for her work thing” but she was a hilarious character who never seemed to let any of the crap in her life get her down. I kept expecting the angst to overwhelm her but it never did and in turn, it never made the book feel heavy or depressing.

How much did I like the love interest: 8. There’s actually two! I didn’t touch on it above because I really didn’t like her ex, Cam, but there’s a whole other sub-plot involving the love triangle of Cam, Ty, and Poppy. Poppy must choose between gorgeous and talented (and quickly thereafter rich and famous) rocker Ty and boring, quasi-cheater Cam. Tough call, girl, tough call. She should have kicked Cam to the curb in chapter one but I guess The Kiss Off would have been more like a novella then since the whole eponymous song that launches Ty’s career is based off of how Cam cheated on her and she still has unrequited feelings for him… Anywho,Ty seems cute and loyal even in the face of slutty Hollywood stars. Cam not so much of any of those things. Cam actually seems way too stupid and vanilla for someone as peppy and talented as Poppy. So Ty gets the 8 and Cam gets a…snooze…

How believable is the plot: 8. I keep hoping that someone I know will pop up famous granted at my age the only things you could become famous are usually aren’t very flattering. A girl can dream though that her bf becomes an international singing sensation overnight and it’s her song that helps him achieve that. Actually, faced with Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry, it’s easy to believe that dreams like becoming a musical star aren’t so unattainable.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. Sarah Billington has just the right amount of snark to temper the optimism and pep of her book. The dialogue is extremely well written, the action is paced very well, and the subject matter isn’t one that I’ve seen written before. She loses points though for the not-quite American touches because even though I’m married to a Frenchman, I still want things that profess to be American to actually be so.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10. The story ends a bit abruptly. Actually, so much so that I questioned the author about her willingness to write a sequel. She says there more than likely will be one! Yay! Maybe Poppy will finally get remuneration for her work! Maybe Ty will call her a bit more often when on tour! Maybe Cam will realize that he really is a loser douchebag and get lost because he’s boring to read about! A girl can dream.

Final Score: 8/10. All in all, a solid read. Fun, fast paced, with a bit of Hollywood flair to make the girly girl in all of us swoon.

****Disclaimer: I got this book for free from the author. I swear I didn’t bribe her in any way, or get paid for my review. And we might not be legit enough to need this disclaimer but after working at a law firm for many years it’s better safe than sorry!****

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