My curiosity eventually becomes a huge disappointment as I turned the final page. I had high hopes for She's Dating the Gangster. But it's confusing, infuriating, frustrating, and tiring. Is this what young people these days are reading? Shallow drivel. If this novel began the trend of new adult novels in the country, then I shiver at the thought of reading the countless stories it has spawned.
Bernardino's novel starts interestingly enough. Kenji, the high school heartthrob, missends a text message to Athena, who he thinks is his ex-girlfriend, who is also named Athena. The ex is later called Abigail, probably to avoid confusion. I think that the ex can be called anything, as she has absolutely no character at all. It would even have helped it she'd have been nameless. (I think the same is true for the supporting characters. They're cookie cutter characters without any distinct voice.)
Anyway, Kenji is hellbent on getting back with Abigail, so he strikes a deal with Athena. All Athena has to do is to pretend that she's now Kenji's girlfriend. Hopefully, Abigail will see them all lovey-dovey and become jealous. (Yes, the novel somehow makes you think that jealousy leads to exes getting back. Warped thinking, if I may say.)
All the clichés are here. Good girl eventually falls for the bad boy. Female character gets sick and dies, but not before male character proposes marriage. Video footage being played that shows the dead character's stupid message to the one left behind. Screaming, lovesick teenage girls squeal a lot and defend the high school gangster. This is so unintentionally funny because they would even gang up on the girl they're jealous of.
I find no redeeming quality to She's Dating a Gangster. There's a pretentious allusion to Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," but it just leads to even more stupidity. When Athena dies and leaves Kenji still a mess (even if one year has already passed), Kenji decides to take his own life by swallowing pills. By dying, he thinks that Athena and he will never be apart anymore. Whatever. I'd rather have a root canal than read this pointless story again.
I'm glad that more and more people are reading though. And that a lot of them are coming up with stories that other people read. I only hope that these readers develop a hunger, a craving for something more satisfying. And that our local writers recognize this craving and answer it by telling stories with more substance.
Read this novel if:
- This is the last book on earth.
- You have no qualms about two sweethearts calling each other Sexylove and Lovebabe.
- Oh, don't bother.