Book Review - The Guy Next Door by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot (whose surname apparently, and strangely, rhymes with 'habit') is a hugely successful American author of Young Adult fiction. The most famous of her books are undoubtedly 'The Princess Diaries' that were made into popular films by Disney. The Guy Next Door is Cabot's first venture into the world of writing for adults in the chick-lit genre (although it's wrongly listed here on Ciao under 'children's books') and is a fairly good, and very unusual, effort.

Melissa Fuller is a gossip columnist for the New York Journal who is on the verge of losing her job as she is late for the thirty-seventh time this year. Human resources have already been through the motions of politely informing her that it is her duty to be at work on time and her boss is getting more than a little tired of her tardiness. But, this time, Melissa has a legitimate reason for arriving late; her elderly neighbour has been attacked and Melissa has escorted her to the hospital where she lies in a coma. Even worse, the neighbour has left behind her Great Dane Paco, of whom Melissa feels obliged to take temporary responsibility. She soon realises that it is just too much for her and decides to track down her neighbour's only relative, her nephew Max, and that is when the trouble begins!
I read books like they are going out of fashion and I have read a lot of chick-lit books (I really think they are the best thing to accompany a sun lounger and a cold drink!). I read them because they are familiar, easy-to-read and fun, which The Guy Next Door is. However, Meg Cabot has achieved something with this book that I didn't think was possible; she has come up with a completely original way of telling the girl-meets-boy-girl-falls-in-love-with-boy formula. The story is told completely by email, instant messaging and other such correspondence; there is absolutely no prose anywhere in the book.

When I first realised this, I was a bit sceptical. I couldn't understand how Cabot was going to be able to introduce any of the characters properly, or even how she was going to tell a story at all. But my misgivings were soon to be proved unfounded. The novel way Cabot has chosen to tell this series of stories is a nice change from the norm and she does it very well. I found that it perfectly sidestepped the often long and tedious part of a book where the setting out of everything is done and you, as the reader, are thrown right into the thick of things. The fact that the story is told through private correspondence means that you quickly feel part of the cast as it were. There is no need to describe each character as you get to know them straight away through more subtle measures, such as how they write and what they say. It becomes very clear very soon, for example, who Melissa's best friends are and who she has little time for, without Cabot having to introduce them at all.

Another thing that I liked about this style of writing was that it was very easy to read and indeed very quick to read. You don't have to think hard about who is who and what is what because it all happens so quickly, which is definitely what I want from this kind of book. I must admit to more than a little impatience when it comes to reading this genre usually, because it is often inevitable what is going to happen and I find myself just waiting for the inevitable to happen and getting a little bored in the meantime. With The Guy Next Door, there was none of this boredom for me because, like I said it was a quick read and it kept me interested all the way through.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes this genre as it is a good, novel version of a tried and tested story. It is a very modern version that will be very familiar to all those people that feel like they live their lives via the internet and it's speedy way of interacting with other people!


StephTheBookworm said...

I loved this book!

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