Book: Love Your Frenemies

"Love Your Frenemies"

Kimmy knows everyone hates her, but when she comes back after a long disappearance, she has a nagging feeling that things aren’t exactly what she thought them to be.

First of all, there’s her first love, the very sexy Manalo who used to have a nasty habit of breaking her heart. Then there’s her bride-to-be BFF whom Kimmy means to write out of her life right after the wedding. And there’s her mother who Kimmy can’t wait to abandon–again.

Is Kimmy headed for more disaster, or can a girl everyone hates finally get a clue and find happiness?

The hardest thing to like about this book is its heroine. But then, how are you supposed to like a character written to be the bad guy for everything? Love Your Frenemies is like a failed attempt at writing a novella version of Samantha Who?. Or, you know, a very uninteresting Gossip Girl.

Although, admittedly, the novel isn’t half bad. In fact, I’d even go as far as say that this is the best one I’ve read off of Summit Books’ fiction titles. It’s just that I don’t want to lower my standards because this was written by a Filipino. Yes, I want to promote local books, but that doesn’t give local books a free pass. None of the international books do.

Now, let’s break down my problems with the novella:

Number one, which I already mentioned, is that our main character is hard to like. From the get go we know she’s been a bad girl and that she wants to change. And that’s a great entry point for us to start to like her. Except Kimmy is so unapologetic at being nasty that, well, you choose not to like her.

Number two, the supporting characters are more interesting than you heroine. Manolo, who appears out of the blue in one of the earlier chapters without so much as a warning or an introduction, is the right amount of leading man and mysterious stranger. So much so that you actually wouldn’t mind spending a whole novel just following his character’s exploits in his industry.

Though, seeing as this is chic-lit, I think he was supposed to be the leading man. He doesn’t read like a leading man, and by the end of the book, you’d want someone else to end up with him anyway. Not someone from the book, mind you. Just someone better than Kimmy.

And then there’s Isabel, the good girl who has her own way of fixing things. We get enough information about Isabel to establish who she is as a character, and none of her actions are uncharacteristic of her. And yet we get the feeling that there’s more to her character than just being a best friend.

I wouldn’t mind following her character around with another story, actually.

Other than those two, we don’t really get other interesting characters. And I get the feeling that author Mina V. Esguerra plucked these people out (even the undeveloped ones) from her life and let them talk the way they talk in real life.

Not that it’s a bad thing. It does give all the characters distinct voices that, well, are not present in the previous Esguerra book I read.

Which brings me to number three…which isn’t related at all to number two. I just can’t figure out a smooth segue right now. Anyway, number three: plotting. Things tend to happen to push the plot forward, instead of letting the characters and their relationships do the pushing. That said, this isn’t a big problem for a novel this short. It’s just personal preference. I really don’t like with a character is made to do something without the proper emotional turning point just so the plot could advance.

This is especially glaring in the “we have to go to a bridal shower you prepared, but not really.” And it’s made even more glaring when the twist is revealed later on.

Overall though, the book is engaging and a page-turner. It’s just not for me.

Hey, I nitpick because I care.

But if you’re not sold on what I said, we can always check out what other people have written about it:
The Blair Book Project
One More Page
Chachic’s Book Nook
Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac
Because We’re Curious

2 thoughts on “Book: Love Your Frenemies

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