Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: THE VOW by Jessica Martinez

Title: The Vow
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publication date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review
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No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?


When I saw the cover and then read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it. How could I not? Two best friends come together to save one of them from moving back to Jordan by falling in fake love. I went on Edelweiss and being a newbie member, I thought, why not? Then I got accepted. 

Unfortunately, that was short-lived. 

The story switched from Annie's to Mo's perspectives every other chapter, which I didn't mind. I like seeing into each character's mind, especially in this type of plot. We start off with their normal day life. It takes a little less than 90 pages for us to actually reach to the point of Mo finding out that he has to be deported. Then twenty pages later, they have the idea of marrying to save him. Technically, it was Annie's idea. Calling him in the middle of the night, she proposes to him. 

They go through an awkward day of not mentioning it again, both wondering if the other had backed out. When they finally confirm that yes, they will do it and Mo keeps asking Annie if she will back out, they finally formulate a plan...of sorts. 

That was my biggest beef. I appreciate some background and some bonding time with the characters before we have to sympathize and cheer them on, but it felt like too much time. We know what will happen. We know that Mo will have to get deported and then he tells Annie and that somehow, some way, they will get the idea to marry. So during the first 90 pages, I started getting more anxious and more impatient to just get on with it. When they finally had the proposal out of the way, they both were so unsure of themselves. Understandable, but I was already impatient to get the show on the road. 

I like to be swept away on emotions. Since that did not happen, I retreated into my realistic mindset. Annie and Mo were incredibly unorganized. Mo's family moves away that week after they finally decide to go to the courthouse and get hitched. Mo believes that he can still be the high school boy whose only responsibilities are basketball and school and of course, his sister's demon cat. His father is mad at him, but still is paying for all living expenses. However, he continues to come off as if his whole life is so unfair. When he runs into a friend who is furious with what happened, he starts talking about telling him the truth. He hates the fact that he's alone, bemoans about his family, but continually tries to be sensitive by asking Annie if she wants to back out through the whole novel.

Boy, you just got handed everything you wanted. Snap out of it. 

When they met with the law student, Annie and Mo were baffled to find out that they actually had to act like a real couple. What a shocker. That seemed so unrealistic to me. If you were going through with this plan, I would think you would have researched and found that out on the internet. It's very easy. Of course, cue Mo telling Annie that if she wants to back out, she should do it now and that he understands. 

Annie, for her part, was not as bad, but still annoyed me to some extent. She does get brownie points for standing strong. No matter what crud she got from her parents or obstacles she faced, she stayed loyal to Mo. She even kept going and stood her ground when he kept offering her to change her mind. I even wanted to applaud her when she told him to not do it again. I understand how her relationship with her parents needed to be treaded lightly, but since I was not in her situation, it was easy for me to tell her to grow a backbone. Thankfully, with the whole situation with Mo, she was able to do that. I thought the scene with her mother and the credit card was unnecessary though. Rude, in my opinion. 

The main emotion I picked up on was fear. Her parents are scared. Annie is scared of scaring her parents. Mo is scared to leave Jordan. Mo is scared to stay in America. Mo's sister is scared to go to Jordan. EVERYONE IS SCARED. 

It did get better when loyalty started to conquer any fear, but I felt impatient. What Annie's family had to go through was traumatic. Please do not think I'm taking it lightly. I feel horrible for any family that has to be put in that situation and wish that it never has to happen again. But the daughter inside of me thinks that the parents shouldn't be insane helicopter parents and that Annie should regain her life. As for Mo's fear, he needs to make up his mind. 

After flipping out on Mo for the thought of telling his friend the truth, which was justified, she then has the nerve to be a hypocrite and do what she told him not to do. Of course, it was for the sake of love. Blech. 

I guess I didn't read the whole synopsis, because I don't remember that last sentence: 

Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?

I thought I had read somewhere that there was a teaser question about what if they find love along the way, or something similar to that. I was surprised when it kept going the path that I did not want it to tack. Reed? I wasn't a fan. I might have been if I wasn't rooting the whole best friends route. I didn't hate him, but I didn't like him either. 

Overall, I think my expectations should have been different and that would have helped with my liking of this book. I wanted more of the difficulties a marriage or a proposal would bring to two friends. I wanted everything that this storyline would generally bring, but received something much different. I commend the author giving this plot a different twist and more of a focus on loyalty and best friends. I also like the whole idea that two opposite sex friends can still remain friends. I think it would have played out better if there wasn't that one scene with Mo and how his thoughts started changing...something that was never resolved or explained. 

It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great to me either. 

I would have rather had Starbucks, please.
Verdict: A contemporary storyline of loyalty, friendship, and overcoming grief that I did not get into due to annoyances. 


  1. I understand some of the issues that you had with this book Sunny, I think I went into this expecting one thing, but was left with something completely different, also that ending, where did that come from? After everything that they had been through, I didn't think that it would come to that. I'm sure that I will still be picking up books by Martinez in the future as she is a talented author, but this wasn't my favourite read by her. Thanks for your honest review Sunny!

    1. Exactly! I was seriously sitting there after I finished, wondering what the heck just happened. I'm sure I will be too, especially since one of my friends said that she loves this author. Thank you!

  2. Uh oh--I'm reading this soon! I peeked at your review and broke my own rule, and now I'm all angsty about it. I totally get what you mean about how your reading experience can be less enjoyable if you expected a different kind of story, though. I'm curious about this ending now, though...

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. Haha! Ah, no. Well, I hope that you enjoy it WAY more than I did.

  3. I loved this whole idea and the friendship aspect too when I read the synopsis, so I'm sorry that it didn't end up working out that well! Mo sounds like he'd get on my nerves quickly, but I love how all of your gifs are from The Proposal! They go perfectly with the book and your review. The Starbucks caption on the last one made me laugh! :)

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  4. From a legal standpoint, this book was actually accurate. I think that two teens living in Kentucky (?) would probably not really understand the ramifications of what they are doing, especially if they are desperate, you know? I do agree with you on the slow start, though.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. I guess so. I mean, I think it would be fairly obvious though that they would have to pretend. If it's a law for him to leave, wouldn't someone be watching him to make sure he's playing fairly?

  5. Its too bad this book didn't play out as well as you had hoped. Whiney characters are always annoyances. :(

    I also understand your problems with The Vow not living up to your expectations. I try not to let my hopes get in the way when reading, but it can be hard not to compare what you wanted to happen with what really happened. The most important thing, though, is the delivery of a good story, and sometimes surprises end well. Hopefully that will be the case in your next not-what-I-expected read. :)

    1. They are :( Although, I have embarrassingly low tolerance and patience.

      That's true!

  6. Haha I love that you used gifs from The Proposal! How apropos! I wish the cover had more going on. It seems way too simplistic, in my opinion. After 90 pages I would probably be getting frustrated too. It's too bad this didn't turn out the way you had hoped, the premise sounded great!