I had an enormously wonderful time reading Cameron Lund’s debut, The Best Laid Plans. My initial introduction to this novel came from a chapter sampler that I had requested from NetGalley. After reading only the first six chapters, I had grown immeasurably hooked on the characters of this story. Within minutes I was searching for a way to get a full ARC and had already pre-ordered the book. When I received it the day of its publication, I finished The Best Laid Plans in a single day.
I’ll be honest here, I loved this book immensely. I went through such a whirlwind of emotions while reading it to the point that I definitely felt a little bit empty when I finally finished it because there was no more story for me and I wanted more. But, in truth, I can freely admit that this isn’t the best book out there.
Is it sex-positive?
For a novel that is marketed as sex-positive, I was genuinely surprised at the amount of slut-shaming that occurred. Now, I’ll say that in the society we live in, unfortunately, slut-shaming is a pretty common thing and it is, therefore, realistic to have it. It’s even, depressingly, realistic for it to come from other girls. Does that make this a sex-positive book, though? Cause to me, it really doesn’t seem like it.
Then there’s the fact that Keely was regularly pressured not only by her friends but by the guy she was more-or-less dating to have sex. It was never excessive to the point of serious concern, but it was at least somewhat cringe-y on the occasions it did happen. Fortunately, though it was at times disconcerting, Dean did accept Keely’s nos. What did bother me, though, was that he never really stopped pressuring her about it, even if it was in a mild way.
Speaking of Dean, while I know it was integral to the plot and why Keely made the decisions that she did, part of me was very bothered by the fact that Dean was in college and dating a high school girl. There’s just something very off-putting about guys who are in college, especially considering he was a Junior, being interested in a relationship with a girl in high school (even if she is 18). The difference in the level of maturity that is often present is immense. Then there’s the fact that Keely didn’t exactly treat this boy well in the end, but at least I can forgive that immaturity. She is a teenager, after all.
But, even with this critique, I still loved this book.
And I think that all comes down to how fantastically well-written the main characters were. The story was so engaging, keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The characters are certainly flawed in many ways, but I still loved them. I was extremely invested in Keely’s journey and even better, I was quite invested in the character of Andrew. Their friendship was just so wonderful to me and then the ways in which their dynamic changed throughout the story was so much fun to read.
The thing about The Best Laid Plans is the fact that, to me, it is one of the most real stories I’ve ever read. And this is something I appreciated greatly. I’m a big fan of these kinds of plots, too, so it’s no wonder my initial reaction upon finishing this book was to shout I love it from the rooftops. While The Best Laid Plans is by no means the best book, it is one that will forever hold a special place in my heart.