Cover Image: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 

When I first heard Talia Hibbert was writing a YA book, I was unbelievably hyped. And the fact that it’s simultaneously the inaugural book for David and Nicola Yoon’s new imprint, Joy Revolution, made it much more special. I went in with zero expectations, certain it would be fabulous, and I wasn’t wrong: Highly Suspicious and Unbelievably Cute is indeed unbelievably cute! 

Hibbert’s writing style and humor are one of the things she’s known for, and it remains intact, even as she transitions to writing for a somewhat younger demographic. I was already bursting out laughing while reading the glossary of British terms she included at the beginning, and the subtly dirty British humor did not let up. 

Hibbert’s other strength is in her characterization. She always creates unique characters no other author but her could write, and it’s no different this time around. Brad and Celine are both flawed, yet endearing. I was particularly won over in how Brad’s OCD was depicted, especially learning that Hibbert herself was writing from her own experience. Celine, in turn, is delightfully chaotic, but not without depth and issues of her own to navigate. I like how both of them are facing their futures and dealing with the anxiety in their own ways, setting the stage perfectly for them to reconnect, 

With the complex nature of their relationship, Hibbert perfectly captures all the little nuances, like what caused their friendship to fall apart, and then provides the right circumstances for them to come back together again. Their transition from former friends/enemies to friends again to lovers feels believable and fraught with tension, amid all the uncertainty both are dealing with. The way they support each other, especially Celine with Brad’s OCD, is heartwarming. 

This book is such a delight, as is pretty much everything I’ve read from Talia Hibbert so far. If you’re a fan of her work, I would enthusiastically recommend picking this up! And even if you aren’t, this is a great book to start with, if you’re looking for a diverse British YA romcom! 

CWs: parental abandonment, portrayal of living with obsessive compulsive disorder
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I fell hard for Talia Hibbert's Brown Sister trilogy and hadhigh hopes for her YA debut- HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS AND UNFAILY CUTE (pub 01.03).. She delivered! What I love about her books is the way she blends a contemporary romcom with diversity/inclusivity and heaviertopics. In this case, OCD and being Black in a predominately white space. 

The dialogue is snappy.
The banter is impressive.
The antics induce laughter. 
The YA elements are realistic and relatable.
The British glossary of colloquialisms was a delightful bonus. 
⁣The book is published by Joy Revolution led by Nicola & David Yoon.  The imprint is committed to young adult romance novels starring people of color and written by people of color.
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This is the first book I’ve read by Talia Hibbert, but it won’t be the last. The banter, the dual PIVs, the guy falling first, the friends to enemies to lovers…I just loved so so much about this book! And the ending was perfection, and it made me cry. This book felt so real to me, and I loved both of the perspectives. I wish all books were written with this same ease, representation and realness. I absolutely loved this book!
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3.75 stars out 5.

Plot: I really enjoyed the plot as a whole! There were some moments where it tended to drag and it felt like those moments didn't add anything extravagant to the plot or anything. I loved the forced proximity of the expeditions, and how the characters were able to open up to each other during those times where they couldn't be anywhere else than where they were. Having that glossary at the beginning of the book really helped my American ass to understand some colloquial British terms I wouldn't have know in a million years, too.

Characters: I wanted more out of Celine! I lost interest in her character about the halfway point. If there was more emphasis on her conspiracy theory stuff that stayed consistent throughout the whole book, I would've enjoyed her more. I feel like we didn't get enough of her being TikTok famous either. I thought that would've had a bigger role in this. Bradley, though. He was the star of the show for me. He was funny, sweet, and an all around good guy character. Seeing a masc, neurodivergent, bisexual main character was such a breath of fresh air for me; it's either been a while or a very long time since I've read a book where the masc lead was bi. He stole the show for me; it felt like the book was about him more than him and Celine in the end.

Writing: At times, the writing wasn't my favorite. It would be something with the internal monologue or the actions or the dialogue, and it wouldn't sound right to me when reading it aloud. Might be a me thing, honestly, and I can't give any specific examples off the top of my head, but there were times I didn't like the writing.

Overall, a solid book! Congrats to Talia Hibbert on their YA debut, and thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the e-ARC!
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As always, Talia Hibbert is the best at characters that feel and sound like real people. and stories that are hard to put down but easy to enjoy.
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Thank you so much Random House Children’s and NetGalley for this ARC!
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute is so cute!!! I fell in love with the Brown Sisters Trilogy so when I saw Talia Hibbert had a new book coming soon, I had to request it! Hibbert does such an amazing job with her main characters. I don’t have OCD, but her ability to write complex characters with a variety of conditions continues to impress me with each book I read. You’re rooting for Celine and Brad the entire time! It reminded me of all those big life plans I questioned and considered in high school. The journey of feeling your emotions and trusting your gut is one we can all relate to in some way. If you enjoy YA romance definitely add this to your list!
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This book is very cute and certainly YA. It deals with complicated feelings of Black British teens who are trying to figure out who they are, what they want, who they want, and what's next in their lives. I don't think I would categorize it as a romance, though it did have some friends to enemies to "friends" trope that leaned slightly asexual in tone. As always, Hibbert sets a word where people who might otherwise be ignored shine brightly: a "hefty" Black girl, a person diagnosed with OCD, the quiet friend who journals, other friends who identified as lesbian or bisexual. 

All told, the title says it all. I would recommend this book for the awkward and quiet youth who don't always see themselves represented.
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i ADORE talia hibbert. i want to be her friend. seriously. love. anywho. i'm not normally a big YA fan anymore, but i will still read a few a year, and i didn't even realise this was YA when it was first announced/i requested, because TALIA HIBBERT. i did figure it out before i started, so that was good. as always, talia can do no wrong. this was adorable and fantastic and i loved everything about it. i would read her grocery list.
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This ranks right up there with Talia Hibberts other titles.  I was pleasantly surprised when i realized that this was a young Adult  book, but love that she maintains her representation of different mental disorders.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC copy of this book!

This is such a adorable story. Talia Hibbert is known for some steamy romances on the adult market, but she kept it sweet and PG for her first YA novel. The book follows two friends turned enemies as the go through a competitive scholarship process their final year of school. The book is told from multiple dimensions which is great for this age group, as you get a chance to get into both characters heads. I appreciated that Hibbert used phrasing and situations that matched the age of the characters. I was worried that she would "age" the characters too far, but she didn't. There's a decent amount of humor mixed into the book, which keeps the characters feeling real, and not too polished. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Hibbert continues her trend of mixing in real life issues (OCD, parental separation) into her main characters. I love this, especially for this age group, as it grounds the characters into something that the audience can understand and relate to.
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It IS highly suspicious how cute this book is. (I'll see myself out now). 

I loved this. We got a teenage coming-of-age, second chance best friends to enemies to friends again to lovers romance that was so incredibly adorable. All that with a POC cast, queer and bi rep, and mental health/OCD rep. 

The first part: coming-of-age. Cel and Bradley are dealing with a very relatable experience of "holy cow what do I do next?!" as they prepare for university, scholarships, and choosing what they want to study. They are both so driven by their expectations of what they *should* do that they are both blindsided in this book by what they *want* to do. And I loved seeing this. I love the idea of YA readers seeing themselves and their dreams and fears in this book. 

The second part: the romance. Cel and Bradley were best of the best friends who had a huge falling out roughly 4 years before the book begins. What I especially loved about this second chance trope is that we get to see how both characters have grown so much both since the incident and because of it. I appreciated that by the time they became friends again it was because they were both ready to move past their (and the others') mistakes. It just warmed my soul how this was all done (Talia you big ole writing genius!) NEXT was the friends-to-lovers progression and it just warmed my heart. The balance between them, their new friendship, and their budding relationship was so well done and... intentional (this feels like the best word). Cel and Bradley both expressed and maintained each other's boundaries as they figured out this transition. The third-act breakup was stupid, though. I need romances to realize it just is not always needed. 

My BIGGEST complaint is that the side characters were so underutilized. I really really liked what we got to see of them but they existed purely to tease Cel and Bradley about their ~*~feelings~* toward each other. And they were too cool to be that far on the sidelines.
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I'm a fan of Hibbert's adult romances, and was really excited for this one. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get into, primarily because I just couldn't root for the main protagonist, Celine. There was a lot of bickering between the two leads, and it felt a little too juvenile for me. We will still be procuring a copy for our collection though, because while this book may not have been for me, I'm pretty sure we'll have readers who will enjoy it.
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Summary:

Bradley Graeme is a star on the football team and a member of the popular crowd. Celine Bangura loves discussing conspiracy theories on social media and is not-s0-much a member of the popular crowd. They used to be best friends, until an incident involving a miscommunication. Now, they are academic rivals that communicate through glares and insults. When Celine signs up for a survival course with her idol, she does not expect Bradley to sign up too. But with a scholarship on the line, she is forced to work on a team with her ex-BFF. 

Trope(s): friends to enemies to lovers, forced proximity, miscommunication

Things I LOVED:
- Both main characters, Bradley and Celine, explored their emotions and mental struggles throughout the story and grew as a result. So many times I read about a character that experiences personal growth, but they just go from doing something destructive to suddenly realizing they need to stop it. These characters have a gradual growth that actually feels realistic and attainable. 
- The representation of a character with OCD and the mention of therapy in a positive light. 
- I did NOT see the ending coming - well at least, part of it.  I was for sure that both Bradley and Celina were going to win the scholarship, but that didn't happen. You'll have to read the book to find out what I mean.

Things I Did NOT Like:
- There was not much mention on what caused Bradley's and Celina's friendship to end. It felt like it was stated and then never mentioned again. They were not friends for years because of this and it was just glossed over. 
- There were a lot of different story lines (Celine's dad leaving, Bradley's OCD, Bradley's and Celine's decisions about their future, etc.), so some of them were not as explained as I would have liked. 

Read If You Like:
- Dual POV
- Mental health representation
- Competition
- Wilderness adventures
- Deep conversations
- British colloquialisms

Content Warning(s): language, parent abandoment

Thank you to Talia Hibbert, Random House Children's, and NetGalley for a digital ARC for review.
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I requested this because I love Talia Hibbert's adult romance novels. While I did enjoy this, as expected, I did not enjoy it quite as much (probably because it is YA). This is a super quick and cute read, but the characters are incredibly immature for parts of this book. This makes sense since they're in high school, but the bickering at the beginning reminded me more of middle schoolers... I also really liked the concept of the book, so I wish we got a little bit more plot surrounding the expedition part. All in all though, I'd recommend if you usually enjoy YA because it was cute!
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This is such a cute romance. Their banter and relationship was fun to read.  Having her be a conspiracy theorist was a fun twist and set up more comedic moments. I thought they mental health representation was well done. Overall the academic rivalry piece felt secondary but still worked out well.
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Cw: parental abandonment, living with OCD
Trope: friends-enemies-lovers

Talia Hibbert has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read her Brown Sisters trilogy, so it's not a surprise that this was enjoyable for me. 

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute was a quick and adorable read that had me smiling and laughing the ENTIRE time. Like the title says it all! 

The book has well-developed characters, dealt with the themes included really well, and there were wholesome friendship moments that just made you smile and swoon.

I love how this book highlighted the ways Bradley took care of himself and how he has a relationship with therapy. Since mental health is sometimes a stigma in the black community, I appreciate Talia Hibbert for showing a light on how helpful therapy can be.
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Though it took me a little bit to get into this book, by the end I adored both Brad and Celine and their story. Their love and care for each by the end was really heartwarming. This book was my intro into the author's work, and I'm excited to check out more of her books now!
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I am a fan of Talia Hibbert but this book didn't do it for me. I couldn't engage with the characters, and I don't think Ilike Ms. Hibbert writing in the YA genre as much as her adult stuff.
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I admit I was a little nervous when I heard that Talia Hibbert was writing a YA book. Excited, but slightly nervous because her adult romances are so deliciously spicy, was this going to be completely different in style from her others? Happy to say, I was wrong. This book combined a lot of the things I love about her other books, while still being firmly rooted in the YA genre. 

This book was a friends to enemies to friends to lovers and explored a lot of the stress involved with being a teenager. I loved the rawness and realness of these characters and loved watching them discover themselves and their relationship. 

I continue to be a fan of the fat rep in Talia Hibbert’s books. There’s never any negativity surrounding her fat characters’ bodies. They’re just fat people living their lives, and I LOVE her for it! Her books always also contain exquisitely done mental health representation and this book was no different. OCD isn’t something you see frequently in romance books, but I applaud Talia Hibbert for spotlighting it, and doing it in such a realistic and wonderful way.


I was given and ARC by NetGalley and Random House Children’s. All opinions are my own.
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Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute was one of the cutest YA books I’ve read in such a long time, maybe ever. It’s funfetti birthday cake with extra sprinkles. Hibbert’s humor sparkled and her characters jumped straight off the page, right into my heart. Everything about this book was utterly, unspeakably, unfairly cute.

The plot was set up a bit differently than I expected—less nature survival than the summary makes it seem—but I found myself so invested in Brad and Celine‘s journey back to each other. I really enjoyed the dual POV sections, which I haven’t encountered a lot in YA. 

I have the urge to say that both Brad and Celine changed a lot from start to finish, but it was more like they found themselves again. The ending was perfect and shaped up exactly how I’d been imagining. (It was fun betting with myself on which three would win the scholarship.)

The side characters were also super fun (at least the ones we were supposed to like). Celine’s mom was such a bad ass, Aurora was adorable, and their best friends back at school were the perfect support. 

Overall, I already can’t wait to reread this. The audiobook is going to be perfection and I can’t wait to see how the narrator(s) interpret the humor. 

If you want a major serotonin boost and/or the feeling of eating a maple blondie brownie with butterscotch icing and vanilla ice cream from Apple Bees, read Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute. It’s delicious. 

Warning: You will suffer a 336-page sugar rush with the side effect of smiling into your pillow and fizzing like a pop rock.
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