Publication Date: 18th February 2012
Looking at the cover and reading the blurb this book doesn’t really inspire you to think it has much more content than a cheesy love story with a sickly sweet ending. We’ll I’m glad to say you’d be wrong. I was expecting that and was pleasantly surprised when I found myself loving the characters and where the story was going.
Starting off I disliked Ella and found her narration a little grating but as I read and learned more I found myself warming up to her. As a child Ella was severely burned leaving her with scars that disfigure her upper body making her insecurities even more believable and when I read what the other people at her school called her, it made me incredibly empathetic and I wanted to give Ella a big hug. But instead of making this a pitiful tale Melissa Jenson turns Ella into a believable heroine – not the typical all guns blazing with bravado type but the one whose not afraid to put her heart on her sleeve.
As for Alex, what’s not to like? He was charming and genuinely funny, and like Ella talented at art. I loved how despite wanting to be with Ella he seemed to put her need for self belief first. I also applaud him for knowing the French fry is from Belgium. Another plus point was the progression of their relationship, I was glad it took a backseat sometimes to Ella’s self discovery, but when it was in the forefront it was realistic and natural.
As for Ella’s best friends Frankie and Sadie; I loved Sadie’s progression, she, like Ella, seemed extremely shy and introverted – something I can definitely relate to – but by the end she was coming out of her shell. Frankie I found a little grating at times, he seemed the caricature of a gay best friend but I saw that he had Ella’s best intentions at heart and I couldn’t help but love him – warts and all. My favourite characters however had to be Ella’s family, especially Nonna, and the crazy antics of their family restaurant.
Plot wise, despite seeming predictable, they’re were many twists and turns that I was pleased to see and unable to guess their intentions. Another great dynamic to the plot was the shadow plot with Ella discovering the truth behind Edward Willing, her dead crush/obsession. I loved that Ella was a fan girl for this dead painter and felt so enthusiastically about it – we all have that one thing that we love dearly (Can anyone say books?) and I found this added another realistic dimension to her character.
Open endings are one of my favourite ways of seeing a book finish – The Fine Art of Truth or Dare didn’t disappoint with a realistic, yet optimist, end. The main message I got from the book was that despite you feeling scared that everyone hates you, you need to be brave enough to put yourself out there. So yes it was a love story but I found it to be more about being truthful to yourself and daring to take a chance for you never know what might happen.
I’d recommend The Fine Art of Truth or Dare to anyone who love a good contemporary and would love to read about a bittersweet discovery of embracing yourself for who you are and facing your insecurities.