“When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old brother), it was because she could make him do anything she wanted.
Besides, it didn’t really mean anything. It was only a kiss after all.
But then things started to change. They grew up. They parted ways and went to different high schools. And other girls and boys–well, just one particular boy–came into the picture, throwing their lives upside down.
Told from the alternating points of view of Katie and Chris, this love story between two best friends will tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking how the simplest things can mean so much.”
Technically, Only a Kiss is a well-written book. Objectively, I have nothing bad to say about the story. Subjectively… I really didn’t like the characters. Especially as we get to know more about them. Especially as they grow up.
I have always advocated for realistic characters, so I don’t understand why neither Katie nor Chris is resonating with me. They’re real. They breathe. And author Ines Bautista-Yao writes them so well that I wouldn’t be surprised to meet these two in real life. But I still, for the life of me, couldn’t bring myself to like them.
Is it because I couldn’t relate to them?
Katie and Chris are real, yes. But they’re also perfect people. Too perfect, in fact. Katie is good at bossing people around, and she gets things done without ruffling feathers. Chris is good at sports, great with the ladies, and an awesome artist too. And I know people like this. People who are too good to be true–and yet are real people. And I am not them.
Yes, Katie and Chris make mistakes. But unlike me, their problems all revolve around love. Which, I guess, is because the book I’m reading is a romance novel. But, at the same time, it’s making me feel inadequate.
How can I like characters who make me feel insecure?
Why couldn’t Chris be the opposite of his older brother who Katie liked for so long? Why does he have to be perfect? And why, if he’s already perfect, does it take Katie so long to realize she has feelings for her best friend?
Why is Andrew, that one particular boy, so perfect too? With his nice demeanor, and his altruistic outlook in life, and his love for Katie?
And Katie… Where do I start with Katie? She’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s good at what she does, she’s an amazing girlfriend, a thoughtful friend, a pragmatic person–
They’re all so perfect, yet so real–and so boring.
The central conflict of Only a Kiss is the love triangle between Chris, Katie, and Andrew. But there is no real love triangle. It’s pretty clear from the get go who Katie will end up with–because while both boys are perfect, and nice, and is someone you can root for–neither one actually does anything grand that would make you root for one or the other.
As a reader, I didn’t have any stakes as to what’s going to happen. Reading Only a Kiss is like reading a the blog of a rich, nice girl. It’s something you do because you like the person, and you want to support that person, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’d rather be doing something else.
Of course, as I always say, this could just be me. There will always be other people who like the books I don’t like. Don’t form an opinion based on just this reaction. Read what other people have written about Only a Kiss:
Her Book Thoughts
Or form your own opinion. Since I promote local books, I would rather promote this well-written (if bland) novel, than most of the published Wattpad stories that have no business being published.
Oh, and one last thing: Only a Kiss has one of the best book covers I’ve seen in local publications. Good job, people of Chamber Shell Publishing.