The Real Thing by Cassie MaeThe Real Thing by Cassie Mae
Published August 2014
Genres: New Adult
Format: ARC

Note: I was granted an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my rating or the content of my review.

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Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

Mia Johnson can’t wait for the summer to begin. After three long years, her best bud – and the guy she always used to have a crush on – Eric Matua returns from Samoa and will be spending the summer with her and his aunt’s house in Florida.

Mia wished nothing more than for their friendship to be brought to the next level. She and Eric used to keep in touch through Facebook and e-mail, but she never felt she could talk to him in earnest about her feelings. And what she doesn’t know is that Eric feels exactly the same about her… He is not the chubby guy he used to be back in high-school, and though he feels more confident, he still suffers from anxiety attacks, but is willing to make it work around her.

However, it quickly becomes clear that although Eric saw internet and the social-media as just a means to connect and keep in touch, Mia is absolutely addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Skype and anything screen-related and gives more attention to her screen that to the good (and real) things in front of her.

What I loved about this story was that the main characters were not your predictable heroins. Eric aka Ezekielu is Samoan, has anxiety attacks, and used to be the big bear chubby football player. I also thought that the idea to have a plot focused on our obvious addiction with anything screen-related was an interesting one to have. Mia was definitely something else… she seemed like a normal girl, not dumb or even superficial, but someone who – due to her separation from Eric and then her dad (who is a fisherman) – has become attached to the internet more than necessary, leading her to forget where the boundaries between virtual and real world.

It was interested to find out who her whole addiction would bring trouble to the couple-to-be and shed even more self-doubt on Eric, who desperately tries to make Em understand that virtual people – those she never really met – are not all that counts. The ending was definitely cute and charming, but nothing too exciting either

What I found a bit difficult to comprehend was the fact that Eric suffered from anxiety attacks – just like his brother – but made worse by how his ex-girlfriend treated him. The relationship with his ex should have been described more in depth. After all, why would he even stay with a person he knew was only interested in his almost-famous status as a football quarterback backup, and someone who treated him like shit and belittled him at any occasion? This really didn’t make any sense to me.

I also wanted to punch Em sometimes for being such a jerk when it came to her “screen-time”, and how she let Eric down because of it. But then again, I am sure this type of addiction does exist, and I have no doubts that this is how it translates…

All in all, The Real Thing was a charming little love-story, that was nice to read and a bit out of the ordinary, so I cannot deny the breath of fresh air that it was, but it didn’t quite make it to something absolutely mindblowing to me.