Preachers’ daughters aren’t supposed to be atheists. They’re also not supposed to make pacts to lose their virginity by the end of the year, but high school senior Meredith Beaumont is sick of letting other people tell her who to be.
Spending the last four years as Mute Mare, the girl so shy just thinking about boys could trigger panic attacks, Meredith knows exactly what it’s like to be invisible. But when a vindictive mean girl gets her manicured claws on the anti-virginity pact and spreads it around the school—with Mare’s signature at the bottom—Mare’s not so invisible anymore. She just wishes she was.
Now the girls mutter “slut” as they pass her in the hall, and the boys are lined up to help complete her checklist. When she meets a guy who knows nothing of the pact, their budding romance quickly transforms from a way to get her first time over with to a genuine connection. But when the pact threatens to destroy her new relationship and the fragile foundation of her seemingly perfect family, Mare has to decide what’s more important: fixing her reputation and pleasing her parents, or standing up for the person she wants to be.
My review – spoiler free
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my expierence of reading this book. I ended up deciding to give it 3.75 out of 5 stars (I work with ratings out of 10, hence the .75).
Let’s start with the beginning of the book. For me the beginning felt a little bit slow for me, I can’t really put my finger on why it felt slow to me, though. But once the story started to pick up, after a couple of chapters, I couldn’t put it down anymore and I flew through the book.
Now onto the characters: our main character Mare is supposed to be 18 years old, and in some ways she definitely felt her age, but especially at the beginning she felt a bit younger to me. Since I’m only two years older than Mare, I maybe compared the way I would handle certain things she went through to the way she did in the book and that might be why I thought she sometimes felt a little bit younger than 18.
Apart from that I absolutely loved Mare. Her anxiety was very relatable to me. Unlike most characters with anxiety I’ve read before she is not anxious 24/7, and she sometimes dares to open her mouth to give a comment. Which is 100% me. That made her just feel so realistic to me.
Overall all of the characters just felt really realistic. I only found it a bit of a pity that we had the cliché of ‘shy main character has only one friend, and they are friends due to a coincidence’. I just hoped to have a different situation, because it is such a cliché in books and films. If I, once again, compare that to my own situation in high school: I was also a shy girl but I still had a group of a couple of friends and we were all the awkward/shy kids together. Due to the cliché of shy girl with one friend you get the idea that there is only one shy kid per high school, which is definitely not true.
Nevertheless, I loved the friendship between Mare and Jo. They were always there for each other and just a perfect duo. I loved how they are opposites of each other characteristics wise but still have a lot of the same views of the world, so they perfectly fit together as friends.
Another relationship I loved was the one between Mare and her sister Harper. I don’t have a sister so I can’t compare their relationship to one I’ve had, but they sounded exactly like some of my friends and their sisters. Harper was also just such a cute character, she was young but so independant and I loved that she was the artsy type.
Now let’s get to the relationship in the book. I loved loved loved our love interest. He’s definitely on my list of book boyfriends now. He was always there for Mare, even when they only just started dating or when their relationship was not going that well. Also, their first date and first kiss were once again so very relatable to me, I had flashbacks to my own first date and kiss with my boyfriend and that really brought a smile to my face.
The book also had your typical popular mean girl, with a typical popular mean girls’ name: Ashley. Of course I understand why she was necessary for the plot and I know she was supposed to be unlikeable, she was just so unlikeable. And I also just found the fight between Ashley and Mare very childish. I sometimes feel like that is some sort of a ‘cultural difference’. You see their type of fight in every American high school tv series or book. But my entire high school career I’ve never came across such a fight here in Belgium.
In some way I had expected more religious elements in the book. At the beginning and towards the end we read about the religious part of the story, but in the middle I feel like that got lost a little bit. And another funny remark for a Belgian person like me: Mare’s parents were shocked that their children have sex ed when they’re 14-15 years old, whilst here in Belgium you have sex ed when you’re 10-11 years old, when your 13-14 years old AND when you’re 17-18 years old. They really seem to want to make sure we don’t catch STIs or get pregnant. I just love to discover those little ‘cultural differences’ between Europe and the US.
Let’s wrap this review up with the ending of the book. Most parts of the ending were done really well and there was only one element that felt a bit rushed to me. It felt a bit like at one point Mare still hadn’t forgiven her parents, but then in the epilogue it was solved, although it was not completely okay again, I still didn’t fully believe that Mare forgave them enough, though. But there was one other element about the ending that was very anti-cliché for YA contemporaries and that made me really happy. So in the end I was very satisfied with the ending.
Even though this book is Wismer’s debut novel, you can definitely read that she is a very talented and expierenced writer. I’m not someone who pictures characters in my head often, but Wismer’s writing style is descriptive enough to see some of the characters in my head, but not too descriptive that it becomes annoying.
So in short: even though The Anti-Virginity Pact has a couple of clichés, it also had it’s own unique storyline. I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re into contemporary stories.