Elle & Lee have been BFFs since birth - they even share the same birthday - and have been there for each other through all the highs and lows. Growing up alongside them is Lee's older bother Noah, who's always prone to getting into fights and being a little hot tempered. He's not just hot tempered, he's hot, full stop. Every guy wants to be Noah and every girl wants to be with him. Well, except Elle. Kind of. Because Elle would be lying if she didn't have just a little crush on him. Because to Noah, she'd just be his geeky younger brother's best friend. Who's never been kissed. So naturally, the girl who's never been kissed is the one running the kissing booth at the school carnival. And then it happens - Noah kisses her. Soon, she's in a secret relationship with Noah. Secret, because if her father found out he'd seriously disapprove. But more importantly, if Lee finds out it will crush in. Because even though Lee knows that Elle kind of has a crush on Noah, he also knows that Noah is a player and isn't the guy for his best friend.
So I did a terrible thing - I read The Kissing Booth AFTER watching the Netflix film. I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself! But, I have no regrets because I seriously enjoyed both of them (enough to warrant me watching the film three times in like four days...). But enough about the film - we are here to talk about the book that inspired the film.
As a fan of cute YA & NA romances, I really enjoyed diving into this. I'm actually surprised that I hadn't heard of it before the film was announced - I would have loved this when I was actually in high school. But even as a 22-year-old, I still loved reading the story and following Elle's journey. Granted, there were elements that my 22-year-old self picked up on that teenage me probably would have glossed over - more on that soon.
Firstly, I really enjoyed Lee and Elle's friendship. Their scenes were super fun and always put on a smile on my face. As much as I love romance, it's friendships like this that I want to see more of in young adult novels. It's one of those friendships that are just so fun to read - they could literally be watching paint dry but it'd be fun. PLUS, it's a friendship that doesn't end up becoming a romance - WE NEED MORE LIKE THIS. Although, let's be honest, I kind of did want sparks to fly between Lee and Elle (is there a fanfic of it, because I need to read it!).
When it comes to Noah and Elle's relationship, I did really enjoy their journey. Of course, there were times when things just weren't right - like the whole thing about Noah keeping guys away from Elle, only to then profess that he has feelings for her. But overall, in the end, their relationship wasn't terrible or wrong, there were just some parts that could have been written differently or expanded upon.
The only problem I have is the ending! While I really appreciated how Beth wrote Elle's feelings towards her relationship with Noah - that he may not be forever, but that she's glad he is her first love - it felt like Beth was setting up for a possible sequel. After everything we had gone through with these characters throughout the book, it felt like a bit of an anticlimactic ending, especially because there isn't a sequel. However, with the book and film's popularity, I'm hoping that Beth will turn about and continue this story to give these characters the ending they deserve. While there may not be a sequel, there is a companion novel, The Beach House, which takes place during the events near the end of this novel.
Overall, contemporary and romance fans will really enjoy this book - if you're in high school, even better. If you liked the film, definitely give the book a read - it's pretty much what you get to see onscreen, with some bonus content (kind of like deleted scenes on a DVD).