title: Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls
author: Tellulah Darling
buy it: Amazon
rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
recommended for: Fans of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison, or similarly funny, quirky, sex-positive teen lit. Humor-lovers. People who don't get squeamish about blatant references to sex and sexual activity.
Why the hell can’t chicks be more like guys?
That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn’t change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam’s best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It’s Sam’s chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam’s Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it’s driving him nuts. Told from Sam’s and Ally's alternating POVs, Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.
This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “bow chicka wow wow.”
the basicsThis book grew on me with every page. At first I thought it was a bit over-the-top, a bit too down-and-dirty with some of the sex references and language, but the style caught me like a cold. (I swear that makes sense.) Yeah, it is a bit over the top. A bit too clever for its own good. But I loved it. The writing is laugh-out-loud hysterical, the scenarios are romcom ridiculous but without the saccharine aftertaste, and the two POV characters are relatable and quirky. Don't think this plot goes where you expect it to. Darling spins the old stereotypes on their head in a believable way. I thought Sam's final revelation was a little unnatural, but that's one of few complaints. I lost a lot of sleep just not able to put this book down.
plot . 4.5/5So you think you know where this is going? You don't. It's a little like She's All That (which, coincidentally, I watched for the first time in years a few weeks ago) if Rachael Leigh Cook were to turn the tables on Freddie Prinz Jr. entirely. This isn't your typical boy changes girl, girl becomes sexy, boy falls for girl and tries to win her back story. It's more like, boy changes girl, girl uses boy for sex, girl likes other boy, boy gets annoyed at being used, girl and boy get caught in hilarious antics with several people falling into the mix. In the end, I loved that Ally learned how to stay true to herself and feel more empowered and confident, and I loved that Sam didn't turn into some gushy prince charming. Like I said, there was just that scene towards the end that I thought was way too quick and unrealistic. Other than that, I can't complain.
concept . 4.5/5It's not new. It's been done in She's All That, No Strings Attached, insert-rom-com-here. But Darling takes it to a different level. It's not about girl becoming ideal slutty boytoy. It's about girl getting what she wants out of sexual relationships and taking control. I felt like maybe the scenarios felt a little too mature for high schoolers. I'd have bought it more with college kids. However, if you let that aside, it's a great fresh spin on the typical story.
characters . 5/5So clever and funny. Over the top but somehow still realistic and true, as only a good writer can do. Sam is a cad with heart who realizes that he does want friendship and sex...but does he want it in the same girl? Ally is a formless-hemp-dress-wearing brainiac taking trip on the wild side after her skeazy vegan boyfriend breaks her heart. The cast is fleshed out with a revolving door of Sam's conquests, the snobby adorable indie lovebirds Rachel and Ian, and the delightfully catty diner staff. Reminds me of the character style in the show Peep Show, which is much less risque than it sounds but delightfully British. Anyway, I love them. I want more.
style . 5/5Maybe a little Bridget Jones? I haven't read it, but for some reason that comes to mind. See back to Cabot and Rennison. It's a little risque, a little sexy, a little crazy, a little whimsical. There were at least four or five things on every page that made me chortle and I swear, I was laughing so loudly that my cat freaked out. Which is sad, I know. Don't judge my spinster lifestyle. :P Darling has a way with bringing things to life and putting slapstick into print.
mechanics . 5/5Great, nothing much to say here. The switching POVs was awesome because the time periods didn't overlap perfectly, so sometimes a chapter would end with Sam deciding to do something or feel a certain way, and then in Ally's chapter, it would become obvious that he had totally changed his mind. Which was cool, because even though you were in both of their heads, you were still surprised.
take home messageA hilarious, sex-positive take on modern dating relationships.
Note: I received this copy free from the publisher in exchange for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.