Painter smudges chances for bestseller

Leslie Farwell, Staff Writer

Lynn Painter’s Better Than The Movies is a dumpster fire of a disaster, highlighting toxic behavior as desirable. The main character Liz Buxbaum is hyper focused on keeping her mom’s memories alive after losing her early in life and to do this she decides the best course of action is to manipulate multiple friends to gain her rom-com-worthy ending at whatever cost. 

One of the first obnoxious things about this book is that the pacing makes no sense. The book starts by introducing you to Wes (the neighbor) and Liz’s feud over a parking spot before shifting to her spreading rumors about herself to make her seem not like other girls. I picked this book up because I was told it was very well written, yet nothing interesting happens until several chapters in. It felt like Painter was writing the story from bullet points where the scenes were choppy or if there was a plot hole she just wrote some nonsense about a rom-com that is vaguely comparable.

The second is that a large part of this book was romance tied to self-discovery, yet I feel like the author glorified Liz’s flaws rather than showing actual consequences and growth. For example, she constantly lied to anyone and about anything to make herself seem cooler for the boy who just moved back into town. (This is the same boy she’s been entranced with since like fourth grade too…) 

Towards the end, it was supposed to show her realizing that she’s wrong and extremely selfish, but the wrap up didn’t make it seem that way. It’s unrealistic for everyone who she’s affected by her actions to immediately forget what damage she’s done to their relationships. Going into the book it was clear that there was going to be a happy ending that mirrors so many awful chick flicks, but it would’ve been more interesting if there wasn’t.

When an author writes a book that is very clearly a romance book and it’s marketed to younger YA readers, it should show positive role models. It irked me that there were parts of the book that glorified miscommunication and that if a boy is being mean to you that means he likes you. There were also undertones that suggested an ideal relationship solely focuses on you, your feelings, and everything about you rather than a mutual sense of respect and care for the other person.

I’d give it a solid star and a half because it had potential and some good moments, but was overshadowed by the glaring issues above. I would rather read all five books of Twilight again and deal with Bella Swan than read 20 more pages with Liz Buxbaum.