So, if you had a Netflix account back in the summer of 2018, you may have heard of a little film called ‘The Kissing Booth’. However, this film quickly gained a reputation as the film based on that Wattpad book. (For those of you who don’t know Wattpad is a storyteller platform where you can write and read stories for free.) ‘The Kissing Booth’ was originally written back in 2011 when the author was 16), and it accumulated 19 million reads and as a result the author was offered a publishing deal. So, even before the Netflix film the book was kind of a big deal.
Anyway, the sequel to the film dropped on Netflix the other day, and against my better judgement decided to watch that film. (Just an FYI don’t watch YouTubers react to films until after you’ve watched the film.) I honestly didn’t like the film, but I was curious to see how it compared with the book.
Before I continue I’d just like to point out that this wasn’t written when the author was sixteen and I don’t think it was published exclusively on Wattpad. So, I’m pretty sure it’s not classified as a ‘Wattpad book’.
This book is very different from the film, and I actually liked it much to my surprise. Similarly to the movie the book picks up the summer after the first film, Noah is off to college, and Lee and Elle are finishing their senior year. Elle also spends a good deal of both the book and movie worrying that Noah is cheating on her, and they both introduce another potential love interest for Elle in the form of Levi/ Marco (because who doesn’t love a teen love triangle?) Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view that’s where the similarities end.
The book feels a lot more grounded than the film which focuses heavily on Elle wanting to go to Harvard and entering a Dance Dance Revolution competition to win money to go to college.
So, I think the biggest problem that people have with both the book and the movie is that Elle and Lee act really immature. Elle is convinced Noah is cheating her, and even though he assures her he isn’t she doesn’t believe him. First of all Noah should’ve been honest with her, but also Elle is still a teenager, this is her first relationship and Noah was a player in the first book. Does this give her a free pass for being jealous? No, but it does make her a realistic teenager. I still don’t get why Noah didn’t tell her the truth, even if it is embarrassing you don’t just keep secrets like that.
- I really liked the introduction of Levi, I really loved the fact that he was given a backstory and more depth, it made him feel like a real character as opposed to a one-dimensional character introduced with the sole purpose of adding drama. I really liked his sister as well, the scenes where he and Elle were babysitting her were adorable.
- I also liked Chloe, she was insufferably optimistic. However, considering she was British she didn’t talk about tea nearly enough. I hope she is given more of a backstory in the next book.
- One problem I have is that I think Elle as a character was pretty bland, I finished the book yesterday but I can’t think of anything that makes her stand out from other YA protagonists. At some point Elle says she’s on the track team, but this barely gets mentioned. However, I and I imagine a lot of other readers can relate to Elle’s struggle over what colleges to apply for and what to major/ minor in.
One of my biggest pet peeves of this book is how the book basically skips from Thanksgiving to graduation which seems like an odd choice. Was there really no drama for the rest of the school year?!
Overall, I give this novel three stars, I enjoyed it and I don’t regret my impulse decision to buy it, however I found Elle to be quite a bland protagonist and the story to be quite forgettable, it was an enjoyable summer read though! And it was great to see how much the author has evolved as a writer.