3 star, YA

Review: Sunkissed by Kasie West

Will the stars align?

Avery has always used music as an escape. But after her best friend betrays her, even her perfectly curated playlists can’t help her forget what happened. To make matters worse, her parents have dragged her and her social-media-obsessed sister to a remote family camp for two months of “fun.” Just when Avery is ready to give up on the summer altogether, she meets Brooks—mysterious, frustratingly charming Brooks—who just happens to be on staff—which means he’s off-limits.

What starts as a disaster turns into . . . something else. As the outside world falls away, Avery embarks on a journey of self-discovery. And when Brooks offers her the chance of a lifetime, she must figure out how far is she willing to go to find out what she wants and who she wants to be.

Fan favorite Kasie West is back with another unforgettable summer romance that reminds us falling in love is full of wonder, heartache, and—most of all—surprises.

With the last rays of summer making its descent, what better way to end it off with a Kasie West book? Set in a remote camp getaway (that means no internet!) for literally the whole summer, Sunkissed follows affable, peace-loving Avery as she figures out what it means to step outside one’s own comfort zone to chase her own wants and dreams.

I thought the premise was cute and perfect for summer. Camp is always a great book setting at this time of year, with the descriptions of the fun camp activities like watersliding and trail hiking that makes me wish I was actually enjoying a summer-long getaway. I’m not sure I’d be down for the “no internet” part of it, but who knows? Maybe I’d surprise myself if I had less distractions.

With every camp story comes the perfect set up for a cute romance. Kasie West is remarkable for her romances, but I will say, something fell flat for me here. Brooding musician Brooks immediately did not like Avery after mistakenly thinking she was a fellow camp worker instead of a privileged camp guest. (Also, the book never dives in deep as to WHY Brooks thought guests were super privileged to have that kind of visceral response? I don’t like this loose thread!). I was okay with this set up. I mean, he wasn’t nice to her AT ALL, but hey, this could be a great enemies to lovers book.

Wasn’t true to that at all, so don’t get your hopes up, friends. In fact, it’s probably more of a forbidden love trope since workers shouldn’t date guests, but this could’ve been better too.

While Avery and Brooks figure out things after communicating better (yay for better communication?), the focus on the story really falls on an upcoming music festival that hosts a band competition with a generous grand prize. Brooks, along with his band of fellow camp workers, are hoping to compete and win that prize. But, as we all know, things can’t and won’t be easy, because what YA romance would be described as easy or simple?

Without saying too much, I just felt this particular romance formula was overdone and way too predictable. Maybe it’s just the whole camp setting and I’ve moved beyond that romance trope (if it was a mystery at a camp, now THAT’s another story). Maybe it’s the heroine arc where they once were aimless and then “something” brought them to realizing their dreams. I don’t know, but either way, I couldn’t love this book. At most, it was okay.

Because it’s Kasie West, I haven’t rated this too poorly as there are markers of her brand of writing and romance throughout. I liked the portrayal of familial issues Avery also faced so it wasn’t just a boy who changed her (thank God!). However, this is definitely not one of her greatest works in my opinion, though it should satisfy enough fans, particularly those in her age-appropriate audience she actually caters to (not old people like me).

Overall Recommendation:

Sunkissed is a decent summer read set in a remote family-style camp that boasts of its “no-internet” policy. With cute camp workers around and less distractions than usual, of course a budding romance comes alive. Whether you’d call it an enemies-to-lovers or forbidden romance, either way, the romance fell a little flat to me while the focus of the story centred on a band competition Avery’s crush, Brooks, wanted to enter and win. I didn’t particularly love the predictable formula the book took, especially in shaping Avery as a character from someone with almost no backbone to risking big things for her dream. It may be that I’ve read too many books following this same path, or that camp books just aren’t for me anymore. Regardless, if you love this romance and character growth formula, then this novel is a great one to end off your summer.


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