Book Review: The Anti-Virginity Pact by Katie Wismer

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book published the month of your birthday (June) Other PS 2020 reading prompts this wou...

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book published the month of your birthday (June)

Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 2020, A book you picked because the title caught your attention, A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins, A book written by an author in their 20s,

TW: Sexual assault, animal cruelty, abduction, homophobia, heavy religious content (christianity and lack thereof)

I was really intrigued by the cover and title of The Anti-Virginity Pact. I went in expecting a story about a girl wanting to lose her virginity, which I guess is kind of what the story is about, but it wasn't at all what I was expecting. The cover art had me thinking it was a thriller, and the description referred to it as a romance. It seemed to be a bit of both. And realistically for me, this was a case of judging the book by its cover - I didn't even read the description before reading the book.

Meredith Beaumont is the teenage daughter of a small-town Colorado preacher. She's also recently signed a pact with her best friend Jo declaring they'll both lose their virginities by the end of senior year, which is quickly approaching. While Mare sets her sights on the childhood best friend she hasn't spoken to in years, Jo pursues their young, attractive history teacher. But things don't quite go as planned, and though a mean girl at school may cause many a problem for Mare, she may actually be her own biggest enemy. 

Eh, it's rough to review a book when it has so much potential but instead just falls short. Honestly, this book was a bit of a mess. The intro chapter introduces the book in a way that leads the reader into believing this story is a going to be a thriller. I mean, yes, I went in mistakingly believing that this book was a thriller novel, but I've gone back and reread that first chapter and it still sets up expectations of a story in the thriller genre. And honestly, I think the novel would've been better served as a thriller that includes some romance.

And the characters were pretty terrible. Jo's plan to seduce her teacher was horrid, but she wasn't the worst of the characters. Ashley, the mean girl, was pretty unbelievably horrifying. It made it pretty difficult to even consider that level of bullying. It was bad. And Mare was just purely infuriating. Every decision she made was just bad news. She was an incredibly unlikeable protagonist. Sam and Jada were the only really likable characters, and there wasn't quite enough of either of them.

There was also some hints at major things that other characters were dealing with (Jo, Ashley, Silvia), but it was just passed over and ignored. I really felt some of those issues needed to be addressed, and they just... weren't.

Lastly, there was a significant second storyline that seemed pretty pointless to me. The actual storytelling was fine, and it wasn't that the second storyline was bad - it would've just been better served in a different capacity, in a different story. It just didn't make sense within this particular story.

Now that I've got all the bad out, here's what I really liked about the story: I liked that the main character was a French-American preacher's daughter in small-town Colorado. I liked her doubts about religion, her struggles with anxiety - those are the things that made her character more real.

"Teaching abstinence only doesn't stop teenagers from having sex - it just creates an entire generation of uneducated people who don't understand anything about safe sex, STIs, and how their own bodies work" - The Anti-Virginity Pact, Katie Wismer

There was so much potential with The Anti-Virginity Pact. The plot is reminiscent of a classic 80s or 90s teen drama: A group/pair of friends make a pact with each other to lose their virginities by graduation. There's some romance and drama, a mean girl, bullying, falling in love. It's all there. The main character has depth, but she's insufferable. The book was put together so messily, which took away from what the book could've been. I wish I would've liked this book more.

Goodreads rating: ★★★☆☆

*I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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