I only heard of this book pretty recently, but as soon as I read the synopsis reminiscent of Romeo & Juliet and The Lynburn Legacy (a really cute book series, by the way), I was pretty darn excited for it. And that’s not taking into account the gorgeous cover. Or actually it probably is, let’s be real. Unfortunately, after only a chapter or two, I quickly realized that this isn’t at all what I had hoped for. It’s not a bad story – in fact, it’s quite interesting – but it’s probably not something I would have picked up as eagerly if I had known what it actually was about.
A Million Junes is an interesting mix of contemporary and magic. One could be tempted to call it magical realism, but I don’t think that quite fits what this book is. This is the story of two feuding families: the Angert family and the O’Donnell family. The main character, June O’Donnell, has been warned her entire life to stay away from the Angerts, except one day, she finds herself in a mirror maze with none other than Saul Angert, who is apparently back in town. She doesn’t want to disobey her family, but at the same time, she kind of has the hots for Saul (yeah, it’s pretty much as cliché as it sounds). June has to figure out the truth behind the feud before it’s too late, all while simultaneously figuring out her relationship with Mr. Hottie Romantic with Tattoos. Oh, the difficulties of being a fictional teenager!
From that rough-edged summary, I think it’s pretty clear what I thought of the insta-lovey romance. I actually think Saul is a pretty great guy, and he and June are cute together, but I cannot for a moment stand insta-love. Love triangles? Yes please! Slow burns? Hell yeah. Second chance romances? If they’re done right, of course! But just no to the insta-love. Now insta-hate: that’s a personal fave of mine. But I digress. I suppose that the perfection of June and Saul’s relationship was simply too unbelievable to my mature, 19-year old mind.
Another issue I had with this book is that although the pacing is decently fast and the story flows in a way that keeps the reader turning the pages, I was never really invested in the story that was being told. I didn’t overtly identify with June and her obsession with following in her father’s footsteps, and honestly, she kind of annoyed me. She didn’t want to go to college because she wanted to travel around exactly the way her father did. She didn’t bother doing well in school because she didn’t plan on going to college. She blew very hot and cold with Saul – and for some reason he was totally cool with it. And we still don’t know if she’s actually going to go to college or not.
While the origin story of the O’Donnell’s was vaguely interesting, I didn’t care to separate the truth from the lies. I didn’t care about the ghosts roaming over June’s home, I didn’t care about her family too much – I sound awful – and I could care only a little less about the weird magic that is a major part of this story. It was original and very well written, but I can’t say that I had a great time reading it. I gave this three stars (★★★).