Ruby Oliver Quartet by E. Lockheart
Book 1: The Boyfriend List: (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs, and me, Ruby Oliver)
Book 2: The Boy Book: a study of habits and behaviors, plus techniques for taming them
Book 3: The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver
Book 4: Real Live Boyfriends: yes, boyfriends, plural, if my life weren't complicated I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver
Ruby Oliver is a fifteen year old girl who has penchant for vintage clothes and fishnet stockings, loves animals, a vegan and a magnet to boy drama. She lost her bestfriends. She was dumped by her boyfriend. She's now a school outcast and they all think she's a slut because of that boyfriend list. Did I forget to mention that she's also seeing a shrink?
This is a young adult series but there are mature themes that are not suitable for very young readers.
This is the first time that I'll be reviewing reverse harem books as a whole and completed series. While I was reading the first book, I was thinking this is too highschool for me. But as I've finished it. I wasn't satisfied. I refused to get an ending where she didn't get closure or revenge. I thought I'll forego reading the rest of the quartet. But I need to know what happens next. Before I knew it, I have finished the quartet earlier that I have intended to. I originally planned on doing a one book, one review. And now, I'm in a dilemma on possibly sharing spoilers if I do the per book review in one go and I think it's hard for me to focus on just one part of a book when I know how it will all pan out. So instead I'll just share my thoughts about the book series as a whole.
The shrink element is the heart of the series. There are a lot of hard questions that makes Ruby to be honest with why she is who she is. It also makes me take a hard look on myself on why I make awful or stupid decisions which we would normally be too guilty to confront even to ourselves. The shrink represents her conscience and her sanity. The fact that she's afraid of being judged by Doctor Z, her shrink, Ruby gets to be more analytic of her own. I also like the fact that as the book progress, Ruby gets to understand more herself and answer her own dilemmas. Even without Doctor Z, she can already anticipate the truths and the consequences of her answers. I don't think I was this dramatic in my younger years, but it's so spot-on with the decisions I made in my adult years. I'm also not a critic who can turn a character inside and out and psychoanalyze them for their "special snowflake". I love that Ruby's character is far from perfect and unapologetic about it. Even though it's a young adult and about teenage life, the book is about maturity and finding yourself.
There's going to be a lot of boy problems up until the end. I was also able to guess 90% of the boys who are going to progress in the succeeding books. It's too easy too since they're the normal boys from the bunch but some fared to the direction I didn't expect them to be. Although the titles are a dead giveaway that it's all going to be about boys, it's also about her relationships with her friends and her family too. I'm just not happy how she didn't get closure to those people who are mean to her. You know in Hollywood movies where heroines get revenge in the end. What also make the books seem more real is that the book consistently ended with so-so ending. No major plot twists that is such the trend in everything right now. Lockeheart didn't get to the route of perfection. If it's an anime or manga, it's going to be a slice of life shoujo filled with teenage angst. I also liked her style of writing, specifically with Ruby Heart's verbose character. There's also a creative abuse of footnotes. Half the time I like it, but half the time I don't. I find it irritating when I'm on a good part. But I liked the footnotes about the movies. I've seen 80-90% of the movies that were mentioned and I enjoyed the unusual categorization I've never expected. I was a voracious movie addict up until two or three years ago. I don't enjoy the quality of movies nowadays.
The book hits something in me. When I was in highschool I always make up a list of all my crushes and a timeline of how they will all become my boyfriends. Like I'm gonna break up with this guy after a month, then move on with the next and so on and so forth. I have TONS of crushes. A trip from my home to school is a constant lookout of all my crushes who might be waiting for their ride. I'm boy crazy but they were all just in my head. Blame it probably on studying in an all-girls school.
There's a lot of guys that will not be necessarily become your boyfriend but there'll be some connection. There's this neighbor who was my accidental first kiss. It was just an accidental smack whilst playing! I think he likes me but he never got to confess. Plus his sister is my bestfriend. Then there's this guy in highschool, where we confessed that we liked each other over the phone. We always talked for hours and hours but we never became a thing. Years later he became one my husband's closest friends. He was part of our wedding entourage and the godfather our firstborn. In college, I received this flowers from S.A (Secret Admirer yeah cheesy...I know!), turns out it was from the only guy friend that I have in my life! He's really nice and the perfect boyfriend material but I see him only just as a friend. So we just continued being friends. I could go on and on. I know you're probably thinking now of those guys you never thought mattered and never became a boyfriend are actually included in your own Boyfriend List. (I do hope these guys or my husband never get to read this!!! )
The book also reminds me of Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Lara Jean wrote a letter to the guys that she liked. Ruby wrote a list of the boys that she liked and whatnot. Lara Jean's letters were mailed directly to the guys in question. Ruby's list was plastered all over the school. In both cases, the girls are the catalyst to giving them a common denominator to form a reverse harem situation.
We all fantasize for a reverse harem life, but take it from Ruby from page 135 of Book 1:
Just once, I'd like to see a situation where there were too many boys
Oh. That situation with too many boys? I have seen it. It was my actual life at the end of the sophomore year. And it was not pretty.
Be careful what you wish for, because it can be a complete debacle.