Author: Vivi Barnes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: February 3rd 2015, Entangled Teen
Pages: 352 pages, Kindle
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
Welcome to SmartMart, where crime pays minimum wage...Busted. Alexis Dubois just got caught shoplifting a cheap tube of lipstick at the local SmartMart. She doesn’t know what’s worse—disappointing her overbearing beauty-pageant-obsessed mother for the zillionth time…or her punishment. Because Lex is forced to spend her summer working at the store, where the only things stranger than the staff are the customers.Now Lex is stuck in the bizarro world of big-box retail. Coupon cutters, jerk customers, and learning exactly what a “Code B” really is (ew). And for added awkwardness, her new supervisor is the totally cute—and adorably geeky—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her pitching position on the softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst job in the world be the best thing that ever happened to her?
First off, I love this cover and I'd totally buy it in physical format just so I could stare at the cover the whole day. It's pink and white and pink and it's just so pretty! Secondly, I liked this book, a lot more than I thought I would. There were some things that prevented me from giving it a full five cupcakes, but other than that it was a story I took great pleasure in.
Paper or Plastic features Alexis Dubois, a sophomore that was recently caught shoplifting a tube of lipstick with her friend, Court. While her friend gets off free, Alexis has to work the summer at SmartMart, a local shop notorious for the hundreds of weird customers that trickle through on a daily basis. Having to deal with her pageant-obsessed mother, her ill grandmother, the possibility that she could lose her coveted position on the softball team and the fact that she's falling for her new manager - who also happens to be the school outcast and the boy who has bad blood with one of her best friends - Alexis soon learns that perhaps working at SmartMart isn't the worst thing that could happen.
I wasn't expecting to like Alexis as I get extremely mad with people who shoplift, but she grew on me. I I know her friend, Court, wanted her to steal it with her to see whether or not they'd get caught but I don't know why she went along with it, as she doesn't seem like such a stupid person. Although I couldn't quite wrap my head around that, like I said, she grew on me. She could be slightly judgmental but I believe she had everyone's best interests at heart and I also believe she flourished as a person.
What I like about Lex, is that she really cares deeply about those she's close to. When her grandma's health started deteriorating, she went out of her way to be near her grandma and to help her as much as possible, as well as spending most of her free-time with her - especially on the bad days. I really admired Lex for that as sometimes you don't want to be with a person that's sick because it pains you so much, so she definitely earned my respect due to that! I also respected how she stood up for her friends and tried to keep them happy. She knew that if she told Bryce about Noah that he'd get ferociously cross about it and that it would hurt him, so she decided to not tell him to avoid the hurt and confusion he would feel even though she knew it was risky, as if he found out from someone other than her it would make him more upset. However, she did it with good, honest intentions and I felt sorry for her when those good intentions blew up in her face.
Something I didn't like about Alexis, is that I felt she was quite judgmental about Miller, Noah's friend and that at first she seemed ungrateful for getting the chance to have theft off her record by working at SmartMart. She complained at first for having to work her summer away - which was her fault for trying to shoplift - but she accepted it and her attitude improved and her whole person improved, which was a lovely thing to see!
I liked Noah, he was charming, caring, kind, polite and hardworking. He was always good to Alexis and he was pretty much good to everybody. He has integrity and I admire that in a character. I don't understand why people shunned him for so long, though. I understand he told the principal who the culprit of the spray-painting was but I believe that's a good thing to do. Bryce was vandalising the other team's property which is wrong and I'm glad Noah did that because Bryce - and no one else - had the right to do that. I liked Noah a lot and I felt extremely sorry for him when it was revealed that all was not perfect in Noah Grayson's life and I hope they managed to sort it out properly.
The secondary characters were okay but sometimes they didn't feel as fully fleshed out to me as the main characters, but I could always discern one from the other which was a good thing! I didn't like Bryce and Court as they seemed like the kind of people who would easily turn their backs on you. Syd seemed lovely though. It would've been fabulous if the author could've let Alexis interact more with her circle of friends so I could really get to know them, as I felt I only got to know those working at SmartMart and her family quite well, and not her friends. Ruthie was a character I couldn't quite decipher. I wasn't sure if she had a learning disability or had been severely affected by her father leaving her family or if she just had a natural childlike innocence about her. She was said to be 26 but she acted like a child, so I would've liked to know if that was just her disposition or if she perhaps had a disability.
I also enjoyed the romance, when things started heating up between Alexis and Noah, I admit that my heart did in fact beat faster and I may have gotten giddily excited because Vivi Barnes is quite good at writing romantic scenes. Although I thought those scenes were very well-written, I did find some parts of the relationship seemed awkward and that they would argue about petty things (which I wanted to slap them for, at times) and the dialogue didn't always flow particularly smoothly but I enjoyed it nonetheless and like I said, the romance scenes were written well! *fans self*
I also found it interesting how pageantry and extreme couponing was featured in this book. I've seen bits of Toddlers and Tiaras and Extreme Couponing so it was quite amusing to see it in this book and see how it affected those directly involved with it!
The plot was good and so was the writing. It wasn't overly simple, it wasn't overly detailed, it was the perfect pace and writing style for a contemporary (although the dialogue didn't seem that natural at times, but it didn't alter my enjoyment levels of the story) and I was highly addicted to it. Every spare moment I got, I wanted to read it. I wanted to know how things went with Alexis and her friends, with Noah, with her grandma. I really liked Alexis' world and I loved the world the author created and I wanted to live in it. My anxiety/panic attacks have been quite bad the last few days so it was such a comfortable feeling to get completely caught up in the story and the characters and forget about the way I was feeling. So thank you for that, Vivi! x
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had a steady pace, comfortable writing, extremely likable characters and a plot that kept me intrigued the whole way through! I didn't want the book to end as I was completely caught up with the characters and the world that Vivi Barnes so wonderfully created. The characters learned lessons on how to be better people due to their mistakes. I highly recommend this to all contemporary lovers, as its a fun, fluffy story to wholly immerse yourself in!
I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!