Reader Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Series – Jenny Han
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Series: ★★★★
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before [#1]: ★★★★
P.S. I Still Love You [#2]: ★★★★
Always And Forever, Lara Jean [#3]: ★★★★
I was first introduced to this series when looking for books to read to complete the categories featured in Book Riot’s ‘Read Harder 2018’. After seeing the series on a number of recommended lists, and even though the series and the premise didn’t really grab my attention, I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt because I truly had seen a lot of good things being said about it. That being said, I picked up the first book and finished it the next day – so I think that speaks for itself.
Generally, I really did enjoy the series. I found that, even though I still don’t think it’s a genre that directly appeals to me above others and the concept of the series wouldn’t necessarily stand out to me unless I went looking for it, I was still able to get immersed and involved in the story in ways that I didn’t expect I would be able to when I first started reading it. I am a fan of young adult fiction, though, in my opinion, the concept of the storyline of this series at first seemed to focus too much around typical ‘teenage’ cliches that I thought would get on my nerves (and occasionally they did) but I really did find myself enjoying the series a lot more than I thought I would. Of course, the series is one that offers good representation and moves away from the typical expected characters, so that caught my attention as well.
Throughout all three books, the same tone is maintained so there’s definitely that sense of continuity which makes the various books all familiar to the audience and draws in the reader whilst maintaining their attention. It’s quite obvious as to how the series has built up a fan following due to the specific type of style that it creates and follows. As well as this, they’re all written in a very descriptive and developed way which means that the reader can easily get lost in the situations which are portrayed through the various storylines.
One of my favourite parts of the series is the fact that all of the books make sure to feature those ‘laid back, casual’ situations – for example, there will be a chapter where the main character is just baking or working on a scrapbook, and that make the narrative feel a lot more wholesome. These scenes generally made the entire narrative and the characters within it feel a lot more realistic and it allowed the reader to get a better image of who they really were. Another one of my favourite parts of the series was the relationships that were showcased between the three sisters. I really enjoyed their distinctive, conflicting personalities and it was fun to witness the way they interacted together as a group. I liked that the series was focused on the sisterly bonds rather than solely the romance side of things.
Moving onto my feelings regarding the romantic plots that are obviously a very big part of the series, this is where my attention rather lacked. I expected this when going into reading the books, but I found that the romance wasn’t all that interesting. Like I expected, it was focused around a lot of stereotypical teenage tropes and cliches and I wasn’t quite able to connect with the male characters in the same way that other readers seem to have been able to. In the second book, I was able to enjoy John’s presence, though that was short lived with the reintroduction of Peter being the romance focus of the third book. Some of the scenes were sweet and they were enjoyable to read, but, overall, I liked the friendships more than the romances.
The third book was definitely my favourite out of the series as I personally preferred the more ‘mature’ tone that it was set in. I found that the first two books portrayed the character in a rather ‘childish’ and ‘immature’ light, which made her act as if she was younger than she was supposed to be coming across as. This is definitely something that continuously got on my nerves as I read through the series, so I was happy to find that the third book did indeed stray from that and introduce a more ‘young adult’ tone of voice. I think this is definitely helped by the fact that the third book is revolved around college and friendships in a larger aspect so the storyline felt more relatable for young adult readers and generally more enjoyable to read.
Along with the main character seemingly acting like a child, there were other elements of the series that annoyed me as well. For example, there were points where the story seemed forced and far too ‘dramatic’ for the readers to be able to find the scenarios realistic or relatable. Some of it lacked pace – there were scenes which were more boring than others and didn’t offer much insight – and some of it seemed to be based too much off of typical ‘cliches’ so elements were predictable and unsurprisingly when it was clear that, instead, they were supposed to take the audience off guard but failed to do so.
Overall, I definitely think the series is a good one if you’re looking for books to easily get lost in. It’s fun to follow the progression and the growth of the characters and the relationships that are portrayed throughout the series, and it does have a nice tone to it. It’s sweet, it’s cute, and it’s not boring – it’s written nicely, in a descriptive and well-rounded way, which allows the audience to submerge themselves into the lives of the characters. This is especially good for diversion – when the reader doesn’t feel like dealing with their own life, which is one of the reasons so many people actually do read, so that’s also another appealing and effective element of the series in itself.
To put it simply; the only reason that I started reading and exploring this series is because of BookRiot’s ‘Read Harder 2018’ challenge, and I’m glad I gave it a shot because I truly think that I would’ve missed out had I not experienced these characters and their various storylines. Even though the concept and the premise of the series is not one that directly appeals to me as a reader, I easily found myself intrigued in the narrative and I was able to completely immerse myself in the stories being told. I was able to lose myself in the lives and the experiences of the characters portrayed and, to a certain extent (admittedly not a huge one but still) I was indeed able to get to know them. As I expected when I first started reading the series, there were elements to it that did indeed annoy me. The main character seemed to have the habit of acting a lot younger than she was intended to come across and the storyline seemed occasionally too based on stereotypical cliched situations which meant that the procession of the plot was easy to predict. Though, I found that, especially with the third book, there is definitely development of the tone and the nature of the series and the characters that are fun to experience and explore, so that also draws the audience and the reader back in and prompts them to continue reading further. It’s generally a well-rounded, sweet, enjoyable series which makes for a nice, light, easy read which allows the audience to get lost in a story that’s not specifically their own but one that they’re still able to feel like they’re a part of.
Thanks for reading this [not so short] review of the series. I did definitely enjoy it more than I thought I would and, who knows, I might find myself re-reading the series sooner than you think. It was fun to experience the various stories of Lara Jean and her family, and the series isn’t one that I’ll be forgetting soon.
I’ll write you later.
If you want to experience a sweet, enlightening love story with interesting characters and wholesome family relationships, then I definitely think that you should give this series a read and experience it for yourself.
If you’re not necessarily a fan of young adult literature or typical romance plots, you may not think this book sounds all that appealing, but it might definitely surprise you. If you want to experience characters finding their own paths in life and working their way through typical teenage scenarios which some of us will know all too well, then give it a go. Get to know the characters and the story and let me know what you think!