For fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Fangirl, I Kissed Alice is a romantic comedy about enemies, lovers, and everything in between.
Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other.
Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator’s block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.
They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other…a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?
This review is spoiler free.
eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Content warnings: somewhat toxic friendships, reference to past drug use
I have been dreading writing this review since I was about halfway through reading this book because my feelings on this novel are pretty complicated and trying to sort through them have been hard, so I am assuming writing this will be as well. This book follows two girls at a prestigious art school who have been virtual best friends and co-authors of an Alice and Wonderland fanfictions and outright hated each other in person. When they start competing for the same scholarship and agree to meet in person, things get complicated.
I am going to attempt to follow my typical reviewing policy of what I liked and what I didn’t for this book, so let’s start with the positives of what I did enjoy.
I enjoyed the comics and the early discussions of fanfiction. I feel like it is pretty rare for books to talk about fanfiction or characters writing or drawing it, so that was really cool. I also wish that the site they wrote on existed in real life because I would be reading fics on there for sure, but I suppose I shall have to stick to AO3. I also didn’t realise going in that there were going to be full panels of comics in this, so seeing those was a pleasant surprise. It was a little hard to read them on my eARC, but I can only imagine how beautiful they will be in final print copies.
I liked the descriptions of all of the art that was created by the characters. I am not a person that can picture things in their mind, so I can’t necessarily say that it painted a clear picture or anything, but I did enjoy all of the descriptions of Iliana’s final project, it sounds so cool, I wish I could have seen it.
How Rhodes was in therapy. Rhodes being in therapy is really important and I always love when books explore that topic, but I will say that some of the scenes with her therapist made me a little bit uncomfy, but that could just be a personal thing, I generally don’t know.
Now, sadly, onto the things I didn’t like and or that made me generally uncomfortable.
I suppose this isn’t the books fault, but the marketing’s, but this isn’t the sapphic fluffy romcom it was pitched as. It isn’t fluffy, it isn’t a romcom, it isn’t even sweet really. Other reviews have talked about how they love how flawed the characters are and that is very valid, but I feel like the fact that Rhodes and Iliana had a very toxic in person relationship should have been addressed in a better way. They are both flawed characters and that is entirely okay, but the way they treated each other without any resolution other than “oh wow we kind of like each other now huh” didn’t sit well with me at all.
How the background events that determined the characters relationships with each other were barely explained. It is somewhat revealed that Rhodes, Iliana, and Rhodes’ brother got caught doing something on school grounds and that is the reason Rhodes and Iliana hate each other, but it is never completely explained and I am still a little confused. I feel like the fact that I never understood why they hated each other interfered with the hate to love trope for me.
The friendship with Sarah. At the beginning of the novel, it seems that Rhodes and Iliana are only fighting over being a mutual friend with a girl named Sarah. Sarah as a whole was pretty underdeveloped and is part of the reason this book got three stars from me, but both Rhodes and Iliana treat Sarah horribly and neither deserve to be her friend, but then they get upset when Sarah was horrible back and it was just a mess.
Overall, my opinions on this book are very mixed. I honestly don’t know whether or not I really recommend it, so I would encourage you to go and read some other people’s reviews before making a final decision.