Age Range
Release Date
June 06, 2023
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Perfect for fans of Alice Oseman and Red, White, & Royal Blue, Darkhearts is a hilarious, heartfelt, enemies-to-lovers romance about love, celebrity, and what happens when the two collide.

When David quit his band, he missed his shot at fame, trapped in an ordinary high school life while his ex–best friend, Chance, became the hottest teen pop star in America.

Then tragedy throws David and Chance back into contact. As old wounds break open, the boys find themselves trading frenemy status for a confusing, secret romance—one that could be David’s ticket back into the band and the spotlight.

As the mixture of business and pleasure becomes a powder keg, David will have to choose: Is this his second chance at glory? Or his second chance at Chance?

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1 review
consuming YA contemporary romance
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DARKHEARTS is an enthralling YA contemporary romance. The book follows David, a teen who regrets the fact that he left the band with his best friends 2 months before they struck it big. After Eli dies from alcohol poisoning, Chance is back in town, and he is interested in reconnecting with David, as they used to be the best of friends until they were separated by his band departure 2 years earlier. As they spend time together, David begins to understand what it has really been like for Chance under the spotlight - and to remember all the things he loved about his best friend.

However, David still has a lot of hang-ups and jealousy about the band's success without him, and now, he's getting some complicated feelings toward Chance. Chance is sensitive to people using him for fame, and with David interested in rejoining the band, their budding relationship may find itself in hot water. Regardless, this will be a summer that neither can forget.

What I loved: This was a really consuming read, and it was easy to get caught up in David's life and his feelings. He has a lot to work through over how he felt after he left and the feelings he's been holding onto regarding his best friends. Chance also has some things that he is working through after Eli's death and with how the people around him (his agent, label) control so much of his life. Together, they manage to work through the big things, with some moments of revelation that allow them to also grow individually as people. David, in particular, has a lot to learn about himself, the anger he has been holding onto, and what he realistically wants from his own life.

The romance was really lovely with a great build as they get to reconnect and know each other again. While they were best friends as kids, a lot has changed in two years, and they must get to know who the other person is now. The intensity and emotional connection felt just right and really invested the reader in them as a couple. They did have some stumbles along the way, related to their personal hang-ups, but this also allowed them to grow as individuals. From David's perspective, there is also a small amount about exploring sexuality with input from other characters on the diversity of arriving at a LGBT label. While small, this could be helpful to readers experiencing similar feelings as a spectrum of normal. The book did not delve deep into the side of negative reactions to finding out, but did have a bit of this from tertiary/background characters that felt realistic while also keeping the story uplifting.

There were some really strong themes around the importance of communication, recognizing emotions, forgiveness for yourself and others, family, and the ways we treat others. While particularly at first David has a very rosy sheen about the way he sees Chance's success, he begins to understand what life has and is really like as he sees the way classmates and strangers react to him and his fame. There is an element of empathy that is viewed as a strength when meeting others (famous or not) that comes across as an important takeaway. The main characters also really learn a lot about the critical nature of communication, asking for what you want, and getting in touch with your emotions that will serve them well.

While the story dealt with grief/loss and related guilt as well as substance abuse, the overall tone managed to be more uplifting than it might seem, with a focus on healing, friendship, and romance. The ending was really fantastic.

What left me wanting more: I struggled a bit with some of the things that Ridley in particularly says, as they were quite objectifying and a bit worrisome in places (particularly if you think about them if genders had been reversed). However, while this did feel like typical teen behavior, it would also have been great to have it called out when particularly egregious. David also puts Chance through the wringer, but this was part of his personal growth arc, and it was worked out well in the end, leading to some critical epiphanies.

Final verdict: Overall, DARKHEARTS is a charming and consuming YA contemporary romance that I would highly recommend for fans of IF THIS GETS OUT, ALL THAT'S LEFT IN THE WORLD, and THE TEMPERATURE OF ME AND YOU.
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