Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Better Than The Movies by Lynn Painter.
Better than The Movies follows the protagonist, rom-com obsessed Liz, who has always disliked her next door neighbor, Wes. When her childhood crush, Michael, returns to town, though, he seems to hit it off with Wes, meaning Liz needs him as an in to get Michael to notice her and be her prom date. But as Liz and Wes start spending more time together she realises he’s not as bad as she thought – and that her Happily Ever After might not necessarily be what she first imagined.
I really enjoyed Better Than The Movies – in fact, I’d put it up there with my favourite reads of the year! Once I started it I truly couldn’t put it down and I ended up finishing it in less than a day. There was just something about Liz and Wes that pulled me in and ensured I couldn’t step away from it until I had finished, which is always the sign of an amazing book!
I think it goes without saying that Liz and Wes together were my favourite part of this book. I loved reading the gradual development of their relationship, with their enemies-to-friends-to-lovers love story – which might just be my favourite trope! They fit so perfectly together and I loved all the adventures they went on, from the shopping trip and the baseball game through to when they finally got together. I was rooting for them throughout!
Of course, the romance wasn’t the only relationship I liked in Better Than The Movies – there were also some really amazing friendships. The standout one would definitely have to Liz and Joss’, who were best friends. Liz wasn’t always the best friend to Joss but I really loved how there friendship was written – it was realistic in that it acknowledged that friends can mess up and make mistakes, but ultimately you would do anything for each other. It was such a lovely take away from the book!
The character development was also done really well. I really enjoyed reading Liz’s progress throughout the book and her journey of self-discovery. Part of this included being more open with others about how she was hurting, which is another really important lesson that we could all do with remembering sometimes. I don’t want to spoil too much else, but I think Painter hit just the right balance between Liz staying true to herself and realising she needed to make some changes.
I also really liked the exploration of grief throughout. Liz’s mum died a few years before the book began, but Liz was still really struggling with her death and learning to let go. I really appreciated that Painter explored how difficult it must be to go through something momentous like senior year without your parent beside you, and it definitely made me sympathise with Liz – particularly as someone who’s just completed year thirteen.
Family was another really important theme in Better Than The Movies! Liz lived with her dad and her step-mum and there were some really tense moments in there. Still, I loved reading Liz and her step-mum’s relationship develop, with Liz slowly letting her in more – I think her inner turmoil between wanting to please her step-mum whilst keeping her mum’s memory alive was really thought out and executed really well.
I feel like prom needs a separate mention in this review! Liz’s prom was honestly nothing like I expected it to be but I found myself loving it all the same. Liz’s night ended up being really amazing (despite all the miscommunications) and it was lovely seeing more of her and Joss together. I also really liked the chemistry between Joss and one of Wes’ friends – I’d definitely be interested in a spinoff, haha!
The ending was also perfect. It wrapped up the book so well and I think it was the best way to end Liz and Wes’ story. Wes’ declaration was honestly the sweetest and I really enjoyed the epilogue too – I think it really further exemplified how much Liz had grown and was super sweet.
I also really loved the Wes and Liz playlist included at the end. Throughout the book, Liz and Wes discussed what would be on their playlist and I really appreciated seeing the list at the end. It’s quite a small detail but one that I thought was really special and added that little something extra to the book!
Of course, the rom-com movie quotes at the start of each chapter also did this. I haven’t watched many rom-coms but I still really enjoyed this addition, and reading the quotes was always so much fun! I can only imagine what they would add for someone who’d actually seen all of the rom-coms featured.
Overall, I would recommend Better Than The Movies for anyone looking for a cute contemporary, as this was absolutely adorable and had everyone I wanted from the genre. I’d also recommend it to any fan of rom-coms, as the references were fantastic and something any rom-com fan would be sure to appreciate.
Have you read Better Than The Movies yet? Will you be adding it to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoyed this review!