The perfect guy doesn't exist by Sophie Gonzales

cover image

Sophie Gonzales has described her latest novel as a fun love letter to ‘fanfic’ and romance stories. The central premise is that due to some strange circumstance, a thunderstorm, a dream, we’re not sure, Ivy’s heartthrob from the show ‘Hot, Magical and Deadly’ (H-MAD), has amazingly come to life, in her bedroom, while her parents are away. It is Weston, the gorgeous guy depicted on the book cover, flexing his muscles in that typical crossed arms stance so many teenage guys like to emulate. Weston is the hero that loves Ivy absolutely and enduringly in all the romantic fanfiction stories she uploads to the net. The only problem is that as he starts to re-enact all the romantic tropes she has created, it begins to feel like maybe the perfect guy might not be that great to have around after all.

The fantasy element is the platform for a lot of comic situations that Ivy and her best friend Henry, and her former crush and not-so-best friend Mack, struggle to handle in the real world. While Ivy has been writing her fan fiction, her own life has become another hate to love story. It is only when she starts to view her conversations and her actions from the perspective of another, that she begins to realise that not everything centres around herself, and that other people have been struggling to deal with their own problems alongside her. Gonzales has incorporated good lessons about better communication and consideration of others amidst all the comic capers.

As with Gonzales' other novels this is another lighthearted LGBQTI+ story for young adult readers. Ivy realises that she is bisexual, Mack is lesbian, and Henry is aroace, meaning someone who is both aromantic and asexual. The three become true friends, united by the problem of what to do about the fantastical but increasingly disturbing Weston.

Gonzales excels in the argumentative dialogue that escalates from first off-the-cuff retort to mean things each speaker regrets afterwards. The sarcastic remarks tossed out by Henry are also very funny. It is easy to be drawn into the very realistic conflicts between the teenage characters, and this is part of what keeps the reader engaged. That, and the really very funny scenarios. Just how did Weston become real, and how are they going to send him back where he came from?

For me, the only drawback to the novel is the setting in America, and the American language that is included. Gonzales is an Australian writer, and while I understand the drive to reach an international audience, I think it is a shame that she has to Americanise her stories. But, that said, I admit that once I got into the novel, any awkwardness just fell away and I really enjoyed the ride. This is another great rom-com for Young Adult readers, probably for a slightly younger audience than ‘Never ever getting back together’ (2022) which was also a lot of fun.

Themes: LGBQTI+, Humour, Romance, Fan fiction, Fantasy.

Helen Eddy