Review: Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the author
Status: First book in the Superlatives companion trilogy

The yearbook votes have been cast. Senior year is about to get interesting.

Tia just wants to have fun. She’s worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she’s ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can’t get enough of his Midwestern accent and laid-back swagger.

As the sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia’s seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn’t interested in commitment. But pushing away Will drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it’s no big deal…until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirt along with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will's new relationship—and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started out as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated…

Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, YAY for another awesome marching band book. Considering most high schools have football teams and most of those schools have marching bands to go with them, I feel there is a distinct lack of band books in ya. Good thing my girl Jenn always delivers! Marching band was a huge part of my life for 20 years. Yes, 20. I was five when my brother joined the marching band, and my family had at least one child (occasionally two) in that band until I graduated. Then, I was part of my college band for four years with a two year break during which I went back to assist my high school again. So, yes, I'm always happy when there's a book that captures in some way an activity that was so meaningful to me.

Secondly, this actually isn't a straight up band book. Biggest Flirts is a book about labels and identity, both the ones others place on us and the ones we place on ourselves. As such, I think Jenn did a wonderful job of creating beautifully complex characters. At first look, Tia is a somewhat-naughty girl. She's the girl at the party keeping the beer company, and we find out she likes no-strings hookups, particularly with bad boy Sawyer. Then we find out she's an incredibly intelligent slacker, and the youngest sister in a family rife with emotional drama from a workaholic dad and an absentee mother. All of these identities are true, but some are fact while others are the roles Tia plays for self-preservation (and totally reminding me of Jude in Sarah Ockler's Book of Broken Hearts in the process). And then there's Will. First look through Tia's eyes, he's a pirate, an appropriate brand of naughty compatible with her own. But then, Will transforms into Tia's worst nightmare: a Good Guy, the Boy Next Door, a straight-A-earning, overachieving drum captain/drum major/class president. He's also the cuckolded boyrfriend, betrayed by his closes friends from Minnesota, and the Fucking New Guy, who is a snobby douche. Once again, some of these labels are simple facts while others are prepetuated by high school herd mentality and Will's shyness.

Meanwhile, Tia and Will's explosive chemistry and easy friendship prevent them from keeping their hands off one another, leading the class to label them Biggest Flirts. The primary conflict of the novel comes from Will and Tia's comfort in some of their labels and fear of others. Will's problems seem to stem from the fact that as the new guy, he has to completely rebuild his public persona from scratch while attempting to overcome the early judgments placed on him in Florida, and Tia's come from the fact that she pigeonholed herself into her labels very early in her life and she can't overcome them now that people have come to expect it of her. I think Biggest Flirts could entirely exist without any secondary charactrers since Tia and Will seem to provide enough conflict when it's just the two of them, but I do like that many of the secondaries help Tia and Will challenge their labels.

I am fascinated by this series. I've already read Biggest Flirts twice in six months and loved it both times. I think Jenn has taken a staple of the high school experience, class superlatives, and used it to truly explore how labels official and otherwise affect the recipients. If you are looking for a book that turns teenage identity on its head, Biggest Flirts and its upcoming sequels will definitely be right up your alley. Speaking of sequels, is it time for Perfect Couple yet?!

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About the Author:
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

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  1. Awesome review!! Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Woot! I loved Major Flirts by Jennifer Echols, but I didn't knw that this was a band book. Count me in. Only two more weeks until I can get my hand on this lovely. I'm glad that you liked it, it's getting me (even more) pumped to read it.

  3. Sounds like a good story. I can't believe I still haven't read any of Jennifer Echols' books (at least none that I can remember, I remember titles better than author names--shame on me). Great review!

  4. Great review! I'm really behind so naturally I haven't started this series. Sounds really cute though!