A review by merr_cactus
The Fine Print, by Lauren Asher


It started off as a really really good read, but by the time I hit the 50% mark I was bored of the story and just wanted it to finish. I think it mainly had something to do with the lack of suspense, like every trauma and conflict was something we all saw coming from a mile away. When Rowan first grovelled and kept his grandpa’s will a secret, I knew that the next conflict would surround it. So, the whole angst and tension was close to non-existent. And it just made me really bored of the whole story, there wasn’t a single element of surprise nor anticipation towards something because the entire plot was very lacking and messy: the nebula project wasn’t dwelled on enough; side characters weren’t shown enough (it seemed the mcs were in their own bubble, especially when he’d some over to her cubicle, like aren’t others looking? Or aren’t they suspicious?); the conflicts were immature and really didn’t suit their personalities (I love Zahra but she had a lot of conflicting personas, her entire inner monologue she’s thinking of how Rowan doesn’t realise that he likes her and when in irl he says he doesn’t like her, she instantly believes him?? Like didn’t you just say that he doesn’t know that he likes you a chapter ago, and now you’re bummed out because he said something you already predicted and weren’t saddened by it?? Another thing she does is that, her initial personality that was portrayed (when they first meet in the meeting) is that she’s extremely noisy and easily gets comfortable with people and honestly the latter was shown well throughout the book but the first, it’s idea wasn’t. Not once do we see her be clumsy again nor interact with other colleagues or any one other than Ani and Claire(again with the small bubble which makes it unrealistic)).

Let’s talk about the double conflict. I HATED IT! Despite this being my least favourite grumpy x sunshine trope portrayal, I still loved the couple. And YET. AND YET, I hated the fact that Rowan had to grovel twice! It was bland and didn’t really bring out any emotion from me and I don’t know why but the secret wasn’t even THAT bad. I hated the way she ignored him completely and the moment they talk, she gave in within a second. In my opinion, it wasn’t that bad and didn’t need to be stretched out. But during these times did I really felt annoyed with Zahra, SHE WAS THE ONE WILLING TO FIND A HEART WITHIN ROWAN, SHE WAS THE ONE THINKING UP THINGS THAT HE CLEARLY (FROM THE GET GO) DENIED, AND SHE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE SUNSHINE. And honestly, I get it, she had trust issues from her relationship from Lance, but there’s a difference between your boyfriend betraying you (by stealing your idea and cheating on you) and a barely acquaintance (whom YOU have feelings for) I think I mostly didn’t like her getting mad and ignoring him because of the whole portrayal of it, it was so messy and there wasn’t even a build up or inner monologue that may hint that she SLOWLY understand him, but no, she hears him out once and she forgives him. I love Rowan, he’s not the usual alpha, broody, manly mls and it was really refreshing to see him cry, draw (wish we could see more of that) and treat Ani like the queen she is. I think I mostly supported Rowan and sided with him most of the time because HE MADE AN EFFORT. He always made an effort to talk things through, make sure she was okay and basically pursue her. His character was by far my favourite, even thought I loved Zahra’s strong personality and the way she led and her selflessness, but unfortunately, after the first few chapters, Rowan instantly took the top spot as my favourite character from this book. Don’t get me wrong, he had his flaws in the way he pursued Zahra by only “thinking of the present” and not once (for a while) exploring the option of staying with Zahra, I also was disappointed that his love for Dreamland was only due to Zahra, I was looking forward to him discovering his passion towards it. And apart from that, Rowan is seriously the FUNNIEST! Like I loved the cynical and smartass responses he had when he was testing as Scott. And btw, how could Zahra not realise how similar both Rowan and Scott’s sense of humour was. And I especially loved at the starting when Zahra would laugh at his glares, like I loved that she was unaffected. And then again, I was disappointed that wasn’t shown throughout.
“I might have been born last, but I most certainly wasn’t born yesterday.”

The diversity and representation was appreciated but I was looking forward to Zahra talking Armenian. The only time she does is during their first meeting. Which is honestly a wasted potential.
Like I would’ve loved to see her say something to Rowan in Armenian and him being absolutely clueless about it. This has to be the first book I’ve read that has a side character that has Down Syndrome. And a character with a lot of screen time and relevance. Most of the time, authors show people with disabilities from a taking care perspective but not as individuals who can have their own personalities and play a big role in turning the story around (something Ani beautifully did)