Teen Volunteer Review: Better Than the Movies

As part of our teen volunteer program, teens can submit book reviews, read-alikes lists, YA-inspired playlists and more! Download the registration form for details.

Today's volunteer review by Daria is of Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter.

Better Than the Movies is a 2021 novel written by Lynn Painter. The story follows a senior high school student, Elizabeth Buxbaum, and her next-door neighbour Wesley Bennett.

Ever since they were children Wes used to tease and prank Liz in various ways, causing mischief and trouble. When Michael Young, Liz’s childhood crush, moves back to town she is determined to make him fall for her and wishes that he would invite her to prom. Wes and Michael frequently spend time together at numerous gatherings, so Liz decides that with Wes’s help they can plot a scheme and make Michael fall in love.

If you take Wes’s last name “Bennett” and Liz’s full name “Elizabeth” the reader will end up with the name Elizabeth Bennet which is the main heroine of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I am pretty sure this was done intentionally!

This novel was full of romance and hilarious moments, it was an entertaining read with many unusual and comical twists. I liked that Painter added epigraphs in the form of quotes to introduce her chapters, this demonstrates a thoughtful and creative approach. The characters were entertaining, and the story contains a moral lesson about how deceit can lead to unhealthy relationships and consequences. The main themes of the novel were based on friendship, love, family, loss, and honesty. However, I did not enjoy the excessive use of colloquial language in the novel and the smoking scene. I think some of the role modeling in this story was slightly inappropriate for the younger generation.

Overall, I do and do not recommend this novel to other teens. I believe that there are far better novels to read than this, but if you want a light read Better Than the Movies is the right novel to choose from.