Cover Image: Nate Plus One

Nate Plus One

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Member Reviews

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Nate Plus One

Author: Kevin van Whye

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Gay Black (South African ancestry) MC, Black characters, South African characters, bisexual/queer characters, M/M romance

Recommended For...: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, travel ,school band, Wedding plus one trope, LGBT, m/m romance

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 16+ (romance, underage alcohol consumption, racism, parental death, grief, homophobia, animal death, language, sexual content, apartheid, child abuse)

Explanation of Above: There is romance in this book, as it’s a YA contemporary romance. There is some small scenes and mentions of underage alcohol consumption. Racism is mentioned in the book and some slight homophobia is shown. There is a parental death mentioned in the book and grief is shown occasionally in the text. There is an animal death shown in the book and it’s a goldfish. There are a couple of curse words in the book. There is slight sexual content, with one fade to black sex scene. Apartheid is mentioned in the book and there is some exploration into what happened in South Africa. There are also allusions to child abuse in the book.

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 256

Synopsis: Nate needs a date to his cousin's wedding. Jai is Nate's best friend and secret crush. Could Jai be Nate's plus-one--and only?

Nate Hargraves is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. That's why he dreams of being a songwriter instead of a singer. But things change the summer after junior year as Nate gets ready to fly to South Africa for his cousin's lavish destination wedding. The trip is bound to be epic. Except--Nate just found out that his ex-boyfriend will be at the reception. Ugh. He does not want to face this one solo.

Jai Patel, Nate's best friend (and secret crush), has his own problems. The lead singer of Jai's band, Infinite Sorrow, quit weeks before a contest that promised to be their big break. But Nate rocks Jai's world when he agrees to sing with the band. Even though Nate's not one for the spotlight, he knows this is the kind of stuff you do for . . . friends. In return, Jai volunteers to be Nate's travel buddy around South Africa, a buffer against his ex, and his plus-one at the wedding.

Maybe this summer will be epic after all. Now that Nate's crush is on board, will love crash the party? Fall in love with this joyful, swoon-worthy rom-com by the author of Date Me, Bryson Keller.

Review: For the most part I really liked this book. It was a cute romance and it contained a lot of things I love: school bands, wedding plus one trope, and getting over an ex/reconciliation with your past. I thought the messages in the book were well done, especially in dealing with homophobic family members and exes who want to get back together. The book was sweet and it showed an adorable romance.  I also really appreciate that this book showcases two BIPOC queer male characters and I hope to see a lot more in the future. Every reader should be able to see themselves in a multitude of books. The character development was good and the world building was great. I loved the premise of the book and it’s a book I could see myself rereading if I needed a pick-me-up.

However, I thought while the book was good, it really struggled with an overall plot. There were about 3-4 different plot points in the book and they weren’t that cohesive. The book would solve one and there would be an awkward lull until we got to the next one. The plot issue really hurt the book and it felt more like a collection of stories about this character’s dating journey than an overall novel.

Verdict: It was good! Highly recommend.
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I really enjoyed this book. It’s the kind of book that feels light but makes an impact on your heart, and leaves you feeling like you accomplished something right along with the main characters.

Nathan Hargreaves might be in love with his best friend. Jai is a member of the band Infinite Sorrow, and is everything Nate has ever wanted. So, when the lead singer betrays the band, Nate steps up. And when Nate’s mom isn’t able to go on the trip of a lifetime to Nate’s cousin’s wedding in South Africa, Jai steps up. So the two of them take a two week trip together to visit Nathan’s family, attend the wedding, and hopefully write a new hit song.

The romance in this book is so sweet and fun. Jai and Nate balance each other so well and have good chemistry and communication, and the evolution of their relationship never felt forced and was always enjoyable to follow. A large part of this book is spent with them being domestic and adorable and writing songs together, which made it feel like a comforting read even though it dealt with some heavy topics. 

The different characters in this book were really great. Nathan’s mother and grandmother were both different types of strong and powerful women, which was very nice to see, and overall I found all of the strong female characters in this book to be well written and compelling. Jai and Nate were really the only two male characters who stood out to me, but I truly did like them and their relationship.

This book really flew by for me. It felt like a short book, although I read it online so I couldn’t really tell just how long it was - just what percentage of it I had left. It’s one of those classic YA novels that just feels comfortable and like you could sit on the couch and read it and just feel good. I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, but I enjoyed it!

Huge thanks to NetGalley and to Random House Children’s for sending me an advance copy of this book for review!
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Can we talk about how cute this book was? It was such a fun read and I love for the friends-to-lovers trope (like seriously, I cannot get enough of it🥺). 
     Nate, song-writer with a fear of audiences, volunteers to be the lead singer in his best friend (and crush) Jai’s band. That right there shows how much he loves him. But wait, it gets better! After Nate’s mother is unable to attend a family wedding in South Africa, Jain volunteers and my heart SOARS! Like, you can just imagine to the feelings and the magic that is going to happen on this trip. 
     I loved the setting of this book. I don’t think I’ve read many YA books that take place in South Africa but I really have to change that. The author perfectly illustrates the landscape, variety of scenes, languages, and people, oh and let’s not forget the usual tourist attractions that safari rides. 
      There is one thing that I would’ve loved a tad more information on, which is the bits that would provide more connection to the characters but then it wasn’t really mentioned again. For example, Nate is a history buff (I mean, so am I so l really liked this!) But it was only really mentioned in the one chapter😕 
      Overall I really enjoyed this read. It’s about overcoming your family’s judgements, move on in your life, and learning to take what you deserve. Oh, and let’s throw in a once-in-a-lifetime trip to wrap it all up? Yes please!
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3/5 Stars

Nate Plus One is definitely a sweet queer romcom. Friends to lovers, fake dating, weddings, music, and South African culture all wrapped up in an adorable little package. 

Nate has a group of friends he loves, and a best friend he (not-so-secretly) loves the most. Having come out as gay not too long ago, he's still trying to figure out how to navigate the world. But music is his happy place, even if a horrifying stint with stage fright years ago keeps him from performing, he still always goes to support Jai and his band. 

Jai is loving and carefree, well at least, on the outside. When his band's lead singer bails out before a big competition, he knows just who to ask. Nate is terrified of the prospect, but agrees if Jai will go to his cousins wedding with him in South a couple. What are best friends for? 

The premise of this was very—cute. I'm not usually a fan of friends to lovers as it tends to become too saccharine for my tastes, but I always try to dip my toes back in periodically. This was, indeed, really really sweet but almost clinically so at times. The characters themselves didn't seem to get a lot of development emotionally; at times it more felt like they were filling in spots. It was disappointing in that respect, but I do recognize that books in this genre don't always rely as heavily on character as they do the execution of certain tropes. 

I did love how genuine the insertion of South Africa was. That was where a lot of the story came to life in my opinion. There were times you could genuinely see, hear, and feel the area, the people. We touched on apartheid, and the ripples of those struggles into modern day. The nuance definitely peaked during this part of the book. 

A very quick read. It's a perfect pallet cleanser when you need to just let your mind go, or sit around on the beach. 

*My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for gifting me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review*
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When Nate's mom can't go to a family wedding in Johannesburg at the last minute, Nate's best friend Jai volunteers to be his plus-one. Little does Jai know that Nate is secretly in love with him. Will this trip be a chance for them to become more than friends—or will it destroy their relationship forever?

This is a well-written book with a strong voice. The story is sort of quiet and low-angst, without a lot of conflict. The best part is the Johannesburg setting. The ending is low-key, without the emotional hit I expect from romance. The feel is more gay YA. 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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This is a story about crushes.  Nate Hargraves loves music, as long as he can stay behind the scenes.  His goal is to become a songwriter.  But when the lead singer of Infinite Sorrow -- one of his favorite bands whose leader just happens to be his best friend and crush Jai Patel -- quits just weeks before a major battle of the bands, Nate surprises everyone, including himself, by agreeing to step as the new lead singer.  

In return (or so Nate think), Jai agrees to travel with Nate to South Africa to be the plus one at the wedding of Nate's cousin, where Nate's ex-boyfriend will also be a guest.  While on the trip, Nate navgates his complicated feelings of being in the birthplace of his late father and spending time with his grandmother at his father's childhood home, explores the different parts of South Africa with Jai, and faces his ex-boyfriend who had ghosted him and broke his heart, all while working on a song for the competition.  Through this emotionally charged time, Nate and Jai's relationship deepens, much to Nate's surprise ... and delight.

I so enjoyed the author's previous novel, Date Me, Bryson Keller, so I was really excited for his new book -- and it exceeded my high expectations.  The author effectively combined a compelling romance story with an exploration about the joys and complications of family and the ongoing impacts of the loss of a parent.  It was a delight to go on this journey with Nate and Jai, as they experience new locales and explore old and new feelings.

Strongly recommended!
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This is a great book.  Nate is an aspiring songwriter with a strong case of stage fright.  He's also getting ready to head to South Africa with his mom for his cousin's lavish wedding.  When the lead singer of the band led by his best friend and longtime crush, Jai, quits just before a music competition that they hope will be their big break, Nate agrees to overcome his fears to serve as the lead singer.  And when Nate's mother has to drop out of the trip to work, Jai agrees to accompany Nate on his two-week trip to South Africa.  On the trip, the two friends travel across South Africa, spend time with Nate's family, work on preparing for the music competition, and find that the nature of their relationship may be changing.

This is a charming and engaging story, as Nate learns more about himself and his background while also exploring his relationship with his best friend.  This book is funny, thoughtful, and often emotional.  

Highly recommended!
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Have you ever read a book smiling throughout it? Well, this one made me smile and I loved it. Nate Plus One was a cute queer love story about Nate who needed a date to his cousin’s  wedding in South Africa. When his mom couldn't go and his ex was going to be at this epic wedding, Nate didn't want to go alone. When his best friend/ crush Jai volunteered to go with him as his plus one, he was thrilled, but scared since he had feelings for him. This was a story of love, family, crushes, closures, racism, homophobia, and friendships. As he navigated his way learning  more about his father (who passed years ago), his Ouma Lettie (grandma), and his best friend Jai, he learned  so much about his own strength, self acceptance and self love. There were tender/poignant moments that I was glad to have kleenix close by, but it was totally worth it. 
The ending though I wish was a bit different, maybe an epilogue of what happened in six months time. Overall, I absolutely loved it! I recommend this cute story to everyone that loves love.
There are triggers of death of a parent.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was cute but I wish there was a bit more development. I think having maybe a small chapter from Jai's POV would help.

I received an arc from netgalley.
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Nate Plus One follows a high school student named Ben (just kidding it's about a kid named Nate). He is getting over a breakup with his new boyfriend and has a crush on his friend/bandmate hottie, Jai. When Nate goes to South Africa for a wedding and to visit his late father's family, Jai agrees to come with him. But uh oh, his ex is going to be there as well!! What will happen??

I thought this book looked cute and like a fun summer romance read. I was interested in the South Africa aspect as I haven't read any books set in South Africa. Unfortunately, this book felt like a Frankenstein of a queer YA romance, a South African tourism pamphlet, a finding yourself as an artist story, and a chess strategy book. 

I say the chess strategy because oh my god did this book just feel like descriptions of what people were doing. "I went to the cabinet. I took out a glass. I filled it with water. I put it to my lips. It felt cold. Then Jai came over and said, 'the water is cold, huh?' I nodded as I felt the cold water slide down my throat." 95% of the prose was just about where characters were and what they were doing. Very much tell and not show. I have no idea how any of the characters felt by the end of the book. And then sections were slammed with South African food and culture, which was fun but felt so "they did this which is done in South Africa" and "they ate this which is a traditional food of South Africa" that it felt like it was for South African tourism and not a cute YA book. And that's not even including the romance or the band subplots! Which were fine. I guess. 

I liked the representation and some of the parts about South Africa but this book felt so all over the place that I finished it feeling confused. If any of what I wrote above sounds exciting to you, I would give it a try. 2.25 stars from me rounded down to 2. Thank you to Random House Children's and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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Kevin van Whye’s sophomore novel Nate Plus One follows Nate who is excited to spend the first two weeks of summer with his family in South Africa for his cousin’s wedding. But when circumstances make it impossible for Nate’s mom to join him, Nate finds himself embarking on the epic journey with none other than his best friend (and secret crush) Jai. If only there weren’t the slight issue of Nate’s ex-boyfriend showing up at the wedding…or Nate’s overwhelming feelings for Jai threatening to tear him and his best friend apart. As their trip progresses, both Nate and Jai learn a lot about themselves and what started as an epic fail summer might just turn into a summer of love instead.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, quick and light read, Nate Plus One should wander on your summer TBR immediately.

My favourite part of Nate Plus One was by far the trip to South Africa. Van Whye beautifully describes the geography, cultural heritage and overall vibe of South Africa during Nate’s trip which made me want to pack my bags and sprint off to Johannesburg. Not to mention that there are many instances where you get to know traditional dishes (that sounded delicious) and learn customs you might not be familiar with which is always a plus for me in novels that aren’t solely focused on the U.S. You could also tell that the author knows a whole lot about historical events since Nate learns more about apartheid in this story and I found myself intrigued by how history was approached in this novel. It was a good reminder that we sometimes forget how recent historical events have taken place even though we might not talk about them on a daily basis. Nate also tries to connect with the memory of his late father in this story which played a huge role in how he engaged with family members, which added much-needed depth to this otherwise light-hearted novel.

The friendship and eventual romance between Nate and Jai was also cute and fluffy. I think fans of the mutual pining trope will get their fill here and there are definitely some moments to chuckle when Nate is trying his hardest not to be overwhelmed by his feelings for Jai. I think the characters meshed well together and while I would have wished for a bit more depth for both of them, I liked how they bonded over music and had these moments of utter content between them.

All that being said, Nate Plus One didn’t quite work for me and the reason is that it felt like the book was trying to accomplish too much in a too short amount of time and thus sadly only scratches the surface of many important topics without really following through on any of them. There’s a lot going on and, of course, that’s what it’s like to be a teenager but I think the story would have benefitted more if it had one or two focal issues— just the being in love with your best friend, or the whole homophobic family members or the heritage of your father’s side of the family etc—instead of trying to figure them all out in a book that’s barely 300 pages long. Due to that length, there also wasn’t a lot of depth to the characters beyond what we get told, which is totally fine in a light summery read.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading Nate Plus One and if you’re looking for a feel-good with the beloved best-friends-to-lovers trope, then this one might be the perfect read for you to breeze through this summer!
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 
Nate Plus One is a charming sophomore novel, and I continue to enjoy how Kevin Van Whye’s love for romcom tropes shines through in his writing. I’m a sucker for friends to lovers, and he delivers all the feels of that here. 
Nate and Jai have such a lovely dynamic, which translates well as they take their friendship to the next level. I very much resonate with Nate’s more reserved nature, while also admiring how he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone for his best friend. And Jai is also a really solid guy who is supportive of Nate in the potentially awkward situations he is prepared to run into. 
I loved the infusion of South African  culture that comes into the story, especially the way it highlights how recent, relatively, apartheid occurred, and highlighting the changes that have happened since that ended. And the family dynamics are brilliant. Nate worries that they won’t accept he’s gay, as they haven’t seen him since before he came out, but they do. And there’s some touching moments that highlight his lingering connection to his late father that I really liked. 
I did kind of wish a few elements had been developed more. The ex seemed like a convenient plot device to motivate Nate to bring Jai along to South Africa, but nothing really came into play with him until it came time to force a third act breakup. And given that music is a big part of Jai’s life, and forms a big part of the agreement between the two, I’d have liked to see more of it sprinkled throughout. We get some scenes, especially at the end, but I’d have liked to see more. 
However, I still mostly enjoyed this and would recommend it to anyone looking for a  multicultural queer romcom.
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At first I was really into this story and was ready to give it 4 stars. Then the love story went from 0 to 100 in like a day and it just felt rushed. And it felt like it was only rushed to add more cliche drama at the end which I wasn’t a fan of. Overall, it was a decent read and I liked learning information about South Africa and watching the MC’s write songs. I just wish less drama was added and they left it as two people falling for one another. By the end everything wrapped up a little too easily and I wasn’t really sure how I felt. I guess I would say it was an okay read.

TW: homophobia, death of a parent

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for the ARC.
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This was an adorably quick read! Overall, the plot was pretty easy to guess, and the writing was basic. But it was enjoyable nonetheless!
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This was very cute! I finished it all in one sitting
A sweet friends to romantic partners story. If you are looking for a quick, mostly light read, this one is really easy.
TW: homophobia in a family member
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Nate Plus One is the kind of sweet, wholesome read that you come back to lift your spirits and warm your heart when you've just finished reading a really fantasy book that fizzled a few of your brain cells. 

It's really just a simple, maybe a bit predictable YA romance story. It's cute, it's quirky and hilarious. 

We have our main character, Nate, who is  a young teenager boy who's got a tiny crush on his best friend and is too nervous to think about it (story of their life, right?). I love a good friends-to-lovers, and this book did it perfectly. This book also talked a bit about the racism, sexism, apartheid law and the history of South Africa. It's not really heavy and just briefly skims over these topics, but I I felt like it was a very relevant thing to touch on because of the character's background. 

Nate is a likeable, relatable character from the get-go, and you're endeared to him and his friend group. 

It deals with all the messy teen anxiety, coming out, family expectations and friendship. It felt very relatable and wholesome and comforting. 
I think that if you are are dedicated YA reader, this is going to be the perfect slice of cake for you. But if you're not, the writing feels like a little disorienting because it definitely is simpler, but once you're a few chapters in, its the same feeling of setting in an armchair.
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I love a good idiots to lovers and best friends to lovers combo. Nate and Jai were adorable and I was screaming at all their little interactions right up until the end. The exploration of Nate’s family and heritage were really well done and I loved Nate’s emotional arc throughout the book!
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I absolutely adored this. Nate was such a fun MC. Being inside his head when he’s all hot and bothered over Jai was such a treat!

And Jai 👀 the perfect swoon-worthy love interest for our shy MC. I mean, c’mon…a guitarist in a band? I don’t know anyone on the planet that wouldn’t fall for this kid.

I really loved the cultural immersion once Jai and Nate reached South Africa, too. And learning about the apartheid. It’s always a good day when I can get a history lesson with my dose of queer romance:

If I had anything negative to say, it would be that at times Nate’s voice felt a little more juvenile than it should for a boy who is seventeen. But otherwise, a stunning sophomore novel from van Whye!
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3 stars!

This was a cute (but VERY cringe) novel.

Honestly, I thought that the plot would have more music, given the synopsis, but it just didn't? And it waaay too much romance focussed- I love me a good gay romance, but the entire book was Nate pining for Jai, and then it wasn't even technically a slow burn. But it was still a cute plot- best friends to lovers, so yeah, it's cool.

This was where the book lost most of the points for me. The side characters were perfectly fleshed out, and so was Nate's, but I just couldn't pinpoint Jai's personality. I was also excited since Jai is of Indian origin, but I was a little disappointed to find out that his name's where the rep ends :(

Writing Style:
It was fun, but just a wee bit dramatic for me!

I recommend this novel to anyone who's looking for a quick gay romance read!
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TW: homophobic relative

Rep: gay African American MC, bi Indian American loveinterest, gay SC; best friends to lovers

Nate is a nerdy and kinda shy teenager living with his single mother in the US ever since his father died when he was still a small child.
When they both get invited to his (very rich) cousins wedding in South-Afrika, including first class tickets and all, he’s extremely excited to finally see where his father grew up.
But the plans get upset when his mum has to take some sick coworkers shifts at the hospital.
Nate needs a replacement date for the wedding desperately, finding out his ex boyfriend will be there only making things worse.
So when his best friend and secret crush offers to come, how can he say no? Seems like the perfect idea, right?
But how will Nate manage to keep his feelings hidden and how will seeing his ex for the first time after their horrible break up again be?

I absolutely loved that this book takes place in Africa! I don’t think I’ve read a book like that before and I loved learning more about the traditions, local food and history! It was perfect that Nate was kind of a tourist himself, so we got to experience it all with him for the first time and things were explained in a little more detail. 

Nate and Jai both play in a band and they’re both music lovers. I loved seeing them work out song lyrics together and go to practice.
Their romance was also very cute, for my taste we were thrown into the story a little too sudden though. I would have loved to learn more about their starting point, how their relationship developed and what made Nate fall in love with him.

All in all for me there was a little too much going on in this book.
We have Nate visiting his fathers family for the first time, Nate and a relative having their issues, Nate’s ex boyfriend being at the wedding all the way across the world (kind of a huge coincidence), Nate’s feelings for Jai, the band thing, Nate’s stage fright, the competition and the huge drama at the end (no spoilers).
To me it was a LOT and I didn’t really see where the plot was going and what the main theme was here.
It didn’t help that the style of writing was rather simple and clinical, which was my main problem with this book.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy YA LGBTQ+ romance with an amazing setting and realistic teenage characters this will be for you.
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