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Sapphic YA romance about two messy art students who hate each other in real life while they are in love online creating a fancomic together.

Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other.
Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator’s block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.
They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other…a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?

“For fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and FangirlI Kissed Alice is a romantic comedy about enemies, lovers, and everything in between.”

I received an ARC and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Content warnings include: bullying, loss of scholarship, corruption, nepotism, abusive parents, class difference, destruction of art property; mentions of teens consuming drugs.

I loved the setup for this book. I adore enemies-to-lovers trope, and Rhodes and Iliana truly do hate each other, even though they share the same best friend, Sarah.

I was sort of hoping for more of the falling in love and online interactions, but by the time the book starts they are already well in love, and most of their interactions happen IRL as antagonists. What was cool was the illustrations of the Alice in Wonderlans fancomic the two create together.

The book lacks exposition – the reader is thrown right into the tons of dynamics of people who have known each other for years and experienced a lot of formative events together. The writing was also very much showing instead of telling, which in this case unfortunately lead to me not quite being able to follow every nuance, particularly in the interactions.
It was still engaging and interesting though!

As I said before, the book is messy. I loved that because I do think it’s important to show more mean, headstrong girls who make mistakes and hurt others in YA and fiction in general. However, that also made the overall mood sort of dire. Pretty much throughout the entire book, Iliana and Rhodes hurt each other and others, and a lot of time is spent fighting or resenting someone. Added to that Rhodes has depression, artblock and abusive parents, while Iliana desperately needs another scholarship in order to go to college since her previous one was taken away, and wants to prove she’s earned her spot.

I think both Rhodes’ and especially Iliana’s stories are important. The themes of the book are picked and delivered well.
However the execution of it all and the way the character development worked, and the way a lot of things ended up and weren’t adressed in the end wasn’t my favourite. I would have liked more closure for Sarah and Griffin.
While the pacing worked overall, again, I personally would have liked to see some things slower and others more quickly.

Ultimately this has a great setup, and I loved that it shows teenage girls being messy and far from perfect, making mistakes and falling in love.

Check the book out on Goodreads and buy it here.