Ares presents a sincere, voice-driven portrayal of teenage life, switching between Mina and Oliver’s convincingly sketched perspectives and always balancing a sharp cynicism with tender emotions. While the romance is sweet, playing into many a teen's "bad boy" fantasies, the most dynamic and compelling relationship is between Mina and her mother. The two have an intense push-pull relationship as Mina is torn between feeling smothered by her mother's overprotectiveness and needing her mother for support and comfort. Rather than power the drama, the high-stakes subplot involving the Russian mob interrupts the more everyday storytelling, appearing and disappearing like a visitor from a different novel.
The story has a lot going on, and Ares devotes more pages than necessary to minor details, like explaining the daily schedule of a high school student. Still, when Love & Other Sins comes together, it packs a strong emotional punch. Fans of romances with darker elements will appreciate the way Ares does not shy away from the grim realities that face many teens. A touching coming-of-age narrative, Mina and Oliver's often conflicting desires for freedom and love will resonate with teen readers.
Takeaway: This touching, thoughtful YA romance digs deep into its good girl and troubled boy.
Great for fans of: Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless, Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+
“I really enjoyed Love and Other Sins it grabbed me from the start and I couldn't put it down. Mina and Oliver are two great characters and their story was so captivating. The only downfall is it does leave you wanting more at the end so I can't wait to read her next book.”
“The teenagers in the beautiful, candid romance novel Love and Other Sins face personal burdens, but also have hope that helps them to heal.” -Karen Rigby
"Ares displays a gift for capturing the complex inner lives of teenagers through Mina’s and Oliver’s alternating first-person chapters…A well-written and emotionally involving teen tale with fine characterization…"