I Kissed Shara Wheeler // This wasn’t a favourite but Casey McQuiston knows how to write interesting characters

10 May 2022


I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston

Published: 12th May 2022

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+

My Rating:

From the bestselling New York Times bestselling author of Red, White and Royal Blue and One Last Stop comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need . . .

'[A] razor-sharp, intensely compassionate, subversive, sweet, electrifyingly romantic knockout of a book.' Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

A month before graduating from Willowgrove Christian Academy, the principal’s perfect daughter, prom queen Shara Wheeler, kisses Chloe Green and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s long-time sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad-boy neighbour with a crush. Thrown into an unlikely alliance, Chloe, Smith and Rory follow Shara’s trail of annoyingly cryptic clues, and Chloe starts to suspect that there might be more to this small town – and to Shara – than she thought.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I hadn't seen anything about Casey McQuiston releasing a YA book but when I saw I Kissed Shara Wheeler up on Netgalley I couldn't help but submit a request for it. I'm glad I did but I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped. This one was definitely a mood reading issue because I forced myself to read it ready to review in May.


As I said, mood reading definitely meant that it took me far longer to feel invested in this book. I did want to know more about Shara Wheeler's Gone Girl style disappearing act and find out what happened but it also felt a little tedious and made me completely dislike her by the time she came back. Although, I wasn't Chloe's biggest fan either so maybe it was right they ended up together as they definitely deserved each other. But the fact I didn't like the two by the end did mean I felt totally uninvested in their romance. I do believe it was deliberate making them both so difficult to like as Chloe herself said she liked unlikable characters and the romantic interest being someone awful in the books she read. There was definite intent there and it was good to see characters who weren't 100% likable being the main characters but it's not particularly what I like to read about.


There were plenty of things which were done well in this book though. The main one was the brilliant and diverse cast of characters. McQuiston is excellent when it comes to writing her characters, which is why I was surprised I didn't end up liking the MCs in this one. I'd felt more invested in Rory and Smith's relationship than anything else. I also felt horrible for Chloe's friends who she began to completely ignore in her obsessive quest to find out where Shara went. But the characters were all definitely complex, even the MCs. I do think the ending where they were all brought together at graduation did work and I liked how they all inhabited different social groups within school and Shara did manage to bring them together even though that wasn't completely the intent behind it all (or not the main one).


The other thing I was impressed by was how she wrote two characters who should be unlikeable, Chloe and Shara, and still made me feel invested in their stories. Shara was the most popular girl in school, she should have been a total mean girl (and she could be viewed in that way to some degree) but I still could see why Chloe was obsessed with her (the both of them went way too far in being invested in the others life. They were basically made for each other). And Chloe could often be a bad friend, she became totally focused on Shara to the let her friendships fall to one side as she pursued the mystery of Shara. I liked that it wasn’t ignored she behaved badly but instead her friends called her out on it and they overcame it all because they realised there were more important things happening. What I’m saying is McQuiston perfectly delivered complex characters who were dicks but also who were kind and caring and how often can you say an author does that without making you hate the character?


This, sadly, won’t be a favourite read for me. But I did enjoy myself once I finally got into the story. Sadly mood reading has a lot to answer for and I do wonder if I might have rated it a touch higher if I’d read it at the right time. but if you want a YA LGBTQ+ novel which has a diverse cast of characters then you should check this out.


Have you read this book, do you agree with my thoughts?

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