Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: ★★

A film-obsessed romantic rewrites the script to understand why his “picture-perfect” love story crashed and burned in this wonderfully clever debut.

Ellie had the quizzical eyebrows of Broadcast News-era Holly Hunter and the neon-red hair of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least, that’s what caught Nick’s attention when he met her on the night of 2008’s historic election. A cinema devotee and lover of great love stories, Nick always fancied himself the Tom Hanks of his own romantic comedy, and when sparks flew with Ellie that night, he swiftly cast her as the Meg Ryan of his story. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist: wholly, earnestly, cinematically.

But now Ellie has moved out, convinced “the fire’s gone,” and Nick is forced to sift through his memories to figure out where it all went wrong. The fallout from Ellie’s declaration that she “doesn’t love Nick the way she used to” throws him back into recollections of their first night together. Their shared jokes, her wry smile, the “hope” that filled the night air–his memories are as rose-colored as the Hollywood love stories he idealizes.

That night was a perfect meet-cute, yes, but was their romance as destined for a “happily ever after” as he’d thought? Is he really the rom-com hero he believes he’s been? Or did this Harry let his Sally down? Peppered with references to beloved movies, Love, Unscripted explores how even a hopeless romantic can learn that in real life, love isn’t, and shouldn’t be, like what we see in the movies.

Review:

Thank you to Owen Nicholls, Ballantine Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

There are three timelines that Love, Unscripted feature. The first timeline is the presidential election night in 2008. This is where Nick and Ellie meet for the first time. Then, the second timeline is current time where Ellie and Nick are broken up and Nick is trying to figure out what went wrong. The third and final timeline is the in-between, like what happened during their relationship throughout the years.

This book had a lot of promising qualities, but I really struggled throughout.  The timelines really threw me off and I think I would’ve had a better time with it if there were only two. I understand the concept of having different timelines so we can grasp every detail and really learn their story. However, I found the three timelines to be confusing and it could’ve been done better.

The drag of this book is what made me give the rating I did. I’m not someone who usually has that hard of a time getting into a book, but this time was different. I think half of it has to do with the fact that I’m not interested in politics at all and the other half was that I could not get into the characters. It was very slow and the characters didn’t have that much of a development. There were moments of “maybe I can get into Nick” and then I was thrown back to the night of the election or somewhere in the past.

There were honest parts of this book where you see Nick’s down spiral, but I struggled a lot with his character. Like I said, there were quick, fleeting moments of possibly liking Nick’s character, but I had a hard time with him because he becomes very jerk-ish to everyone and it just makes him very unlikable.

Overall, as someone that loves movies and read the synopsis of this book, I thought that this book was going to be very different. I loved the idea of it and it had a lot of promising qualities, but it just was not for me. It was a good start for Owen Nicholls in fiction, I’ll definitely check his books in the future.

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