Monday, June 26, 2023

Book Review: Will They or Won't They?

By Jami Denison

Bobby and Lindsay. Will and Alicia. David and Maddie. Hawkeye and Hot Lips. Sam and Addison. These are just a few of the many, many couples I have “shipped” in my decades of TV fandom, from soaps to sitcoms and every type of show in between. (A “shipper” is someone who roots for a relationship between two characters—or sometimes even real people.) In her second book, Will They or Won’t They, author Ava Wilder takes readers on a wild roller coaster ride of a romance, producing an absolute delight for shippers of all types of relationships. 

Shane and Lilah are the stars of the TV show Intangible – a seeming cross between Supernatural and The X-Files. Lilah left after the fifth season to make a movie, but it flopped, and now she’s back for the show’s ninth and last season. For years, their fans have yearned for the characters to get together on screen (and off-screen too.) But what the fans don’t know—what hardly anyone knows—is that Shane and Lilah had a secret relationship during the first season. After they broke up, they spent years sniping at each other until Lilah committed an unforgivable betrayal. But with both their careers on the line, Shane and Lilah have to make this season work. Can they do it without killing each other? Or falling in love all over again?

Reading Will They or Won’t They produces the same feeling of heady anticipation as shipping your favorite TV couple. In close third-person point-of-view, Wilder goes back and forth between Shane and Lilah as they lust after each other, loathe each other, and try to figure each other out. Wilder switches stereotypes by having Lilah the emotionally unavailable one. She constantly misinterprets Shane’s attempts at connection as teasing and hostility. Lilah’s defensiveness brings out the worst in Shane. Things get so uncomfortable that the network forces them to undergo couples counseling, where the two are finally able to open up to each other in a genuine way for the first time. 

Wilder doesn’t neglect the supporting characters in this cast – ex-girlfriends, co-stars, the paparazzi, crazy fans who spread rumors of secret babies (LIASON fans, I think you’re being called out here), dysfunctional family members. With plenty of flashbacks and a few cliff-hanger chapter endings, she draws out the tension and anticipation like a master. The sex scenes are so hot that readers will want to digest them in private. And unlike TV show runners, who are forced to deal with such complications as actors who want to leave a series early (thanks a lot, Josh Charles!!!) Wilder has complete control of her characters until the very end. 

Will They or Won’t They is a book readers will pick up over and over again, a book they’ll pass on to their TV-watching friends. It’s better than watching compilation videos on YouTube, which just reinforces the fact that your favorites rarely wound up together in the end.  

Who are your favorite couples to ship? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Also by Ava Wilder:

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1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

sounds like a fun read