In Real Life: An ARC Review

Posted March 4, 2016 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In Real Life: An ARC ReviewIn Real Life by Jessica Love
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah's surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

Upon finishing In Real Life by Jessica Love, my first thought is: this book is cute. It’s that cute, feel-good type novel that permeates YA contemporary romances. “Cute” just seems to sum it up nicely in four letters.

Personally, I didn’t connect with the main character Hannah a ton because she just seemed a lot younger than I and I think she was a little immature. Like the point of the novel is that she goes to meet Nick, a guy that she’s been talking to over the internet and phone for years. (Pssst, don’t worry. They met through Hannah’s sister and not creepily over the internet.) But she kind of freaks out when everything there isn’t what she expected. And I don’t want to spoil things for you, so I won’t say much about that. But…yeah, what did you expect really? And throughout her entire relationship with Nick, she tries to tell herself she doesn’t like him. She doesn’t, doesn’t, doesn’t like him. But it’s very apparent that she does. That’s not even a spoiler because you’ll be able to see it as clear as day. So it just kind of seems a little naïve that she expected her “romantic gesture” (per summary) to end exactly as she imagined it, for Nick to be exactly who she imagined him.

But I guess that’s kind of what the internet does to a person, right? The internet and technology in general are filters wherein we can decide what’s seen and what’s not, what’s known and what’s not. We really decide how to present ourselves through technology, and I guarantee you I’m not this charming and charismatic in person. Just kidding, but not really. So I guess that’s kind of the point of this novel. It’s called In Real Life, a reference to the commonly-used internet acronym: IRL. Everything’s different in real life, and the point of this novel is that Hannah and Nick both have to figure out who they truly are in relation to one another without the protection of the computer or phone screen. 

And I did end up enjoying the novel, despite finding Hannah a little naïve. I mean, she’s young and experiencing first love and all that jazz. We’re all allowed to be a little naïve some of the time, right? So it’s definitely okay, I think.

Listen to this cute line between the two of them:

*Setting and context: They’re in Las Vegas at a costume-ish type party, including some Disney characters who are getting jiggy on the dance floor. Also, Nick calls Hannah “Ghost”*

‘You want to dance with me?’ I cover my mouth with my hand in mock shock. ‘Not with Sexy Elsa?’

‘Eh. I’m sure she’s a nice girl, but she comes off as a little cold.’

‘Wow,’ I groan. ‘That was—’

‘Ghost, just let it go.’

I think I fell in love with him a little right then and there. Two Frozen puns right in a row. I applaud you, Nick. Yes. I love that. And they had banter like this throughout the novel, where their personalities just honestly seemed to mesh very well together. Honestly, they’re pretty lucky that their real-life personas meshed as well as their online personas.

But this novel was cute, and it will help you believe in first love and happiness. And one of the secondary characters rocks a blog, which I appreciated. Not a book blog, but like a globally-renowned I’m-Under-18-What-Do-I-Do-In-Las-Vegas Type of blog. Obviously not as cool or creative or awesome as a book blog (*cough*), but I appreciated the representation.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a YA romance with witty banter and lots of cute-ness, this is your book. If you’re not looking for that, then maybe you should go hang out with Sexy Elsa and just let it go. (Eh? Eh? No? Okay, okay.)


  • The more I hear about this book, the more I LOVE!! I think it sounds adorable and also really “today”. People “meet” so many friends over the internet and never actually see each other IRL. I can relate because I’ve met a ton of people over the internet through blogging, but in the back of my head I definitely still wonder what they’re REALLY like. I’ve been on both ends of it also. I met a lot of people I thought I “knew” at BEA the last 2 years, and some of them were totally what I thought they would be. And some of them definitely weren’t. The internet is so weird sometimes!!

  • Eva

    Great review! I also really liked this one — yes, it was fluffy but it was cute!

    my review here

  • Rachel Geiger

    Based on the description and the author’s note, I was expecting this to be more of a catfish story, if you know what I mean. Well, then I started to think that wouldn’t happen since her sister did meet his brother, but it was also a pretty brief meeting. I agree with you about Hannah, she honestly bothered me a lot and I wasn’t sure what to make of her behavior when her friend and sister were out trying to have a good time and she got mad that they weren’t “there for her.” I don’t know, she just seemed selfish and immature to me. But I agree that this was a cute novel, I just personally wasn’t a fan of that one specific secret that Nick kept. I enjoyed your review though and I am glad that you liked it! 🙂