You all expected me to read this book, right? I Kissed Shara Wheeler is a highly anticipated book for many. I wouldn’t say I was excited as some people, but as soon as I saw it on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. I’ve currently only read Red, White and Royal Blue, but One Last Stop is also on my TBR. I wanted to try McQuistion’s first YA book as soon as possible, and I’m glad I did. However, I didn’t love this book quite as much as I’d hoped.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler follows Chloe Green, who was shocked after being randomly kissed by the principal’s daughter, Shara Wheeler. Chloe and Shara have been academic rivals for years, but after she tries to track her down at prom, Shara promptly disappears. Now Chloe is having to follow clues alongside Shara’s boyfriend and next-door neighbour as they try to find out where she’s gone and how to bring her back. Chloe has a bone to pick, and she’s determined to prove she’s better than Shara.
Sapphic academic rivals to lovers is a concept that sounded perfect to me. I love this sort of book, and I was expecting to have so much fun with it. Yet, I didn’t really like Chloe or Shara, and that was kind of a problem. In the last quarter of the book, I did grow to like them both more, and by the end, I did appreciate them. But that there was such a long period where I was reading the book for side characters rather than the main pair? Yeah, that wasn’t great.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book. I’m not sure if it’s one I’ll reread, but I had a lot of fun while I read this. I sat and read it in one night, so all the clues during the journey were always fresh on my mind. This book was very entertaining, super easy to read, and it made me laugh a lot. I just found the side characters a little more intriguing most of the time.
My favourite character was probably Shara’s boyfriend, Smith. I won’t go into details about what’s going on with him as it was a pleasure to see his journey. But it’s safe to say that he’s a very sweet himbo, and I adored him. I also loved his friend Ace for similar reasons. I also really enjoyed Chloe’s friend group, and that was partly why I wasn’t a huge fan of her. She becomes obsessed with finding Shara, and though I really enjoyed her new friendships with these guys and their buddies, she just kept blowing her older friends off. It was kind of a dick move, and I totally get why they get mad at her. I would too. Especially as she doesn’t tell them what’s going on.
Writing-wise this book was exactly what I was hoping for. McQuistion’s writing always feels fun and easy, even when dealing with complicated issues. There are a lot of the problems teens deal with being shown in this book, and things definitely aren’t easy for any of them. They’re all stuck in this small town in the bible belt with expectations being put on them that they can’t meet without changing who they are. I really felt for these kids, and I hope life gets better for them after graduation. McQuistion wrote in the acknowledgements that this book was written for real teens who are stuck in places like that, which was sweet.
One last thing, I want to note is that I saw a review comparing this book to the ship Faberry from Glee. For those of you who don’t know ship names, that would have been Rachel and Quinn. Not a ship I liked as…I didn’t really like either of them. But the edits were always impressive. But honestly? If you like that ship you’ll love this book. Shara even has a transformation very similar to Quinn’s in-between seasons 1 and 2, and it was really odd to read after seeing the review. This book isn’t fanfiction. Not as far as I know. But honestly? Some of the little bits and pieces ring very them which was unexpected but kind of entertaining.
I’ll end this review by saying that I did enjoy this book, and I did recommend it, but it’s not quite as good as her New Adult books. If you’re looking for a fun sapphic read this summer though, definitely check it out.
Title: I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Author: Casey McQuiston
Age Range: Young Adult
Release Date: 12/5/22