Rival Hearts - Natalie Decker

Rating ★★☆

I love the surprise of finishing a book that you love and hearing that it's going to be a series. So when I was contacted to review Rival Hears, the follow-up to Rival Love, I fangirled. I loved Skylar and Caleb in the first story and I was exciting to see how they would develop. 

Goodreads summary:

Caleb is ticked off. Skylar hasn’t answered any of his calls, texts, or emails since her move to New York, virtually cutting him out of her life without warning. So Caleb decides to go after her—and convince her to come back home. 

But even when Skylar realizes her heart does belong at home with Caleb, her uncertainty lingers. Is it safe? Have things changed? 

After the mysterious vandalism to the pool at Delmont High, everyone is desperate for answers they believe Skylar can provide. At first, she’s determined not to run. But when Caleb’s ex-girlfriend unleashes a vengeful surprise, Sky's love for Caleb is threatened. 

Are these two rival hearts ready to fight for their love, or will they have to throw in the towel?

What Happened to Skylar?


I never really liked Skylar - in Rival Love she was okay and not really noticeable enough to ruin the story. But in Rival Hearts, she has become the most annoying narrator I've ever read. She goes back and forth about EVERYTHING. She can't decide on anything and she does everything completely wrong so that everyone gets hurt. Like honestly, who would want to date Skylar? She was pretty strong in Rival Love, deciding when or if she and Caleb would date, but in this book she is just a pawn in his story. She doesn't have any say in what happens with her and just goes with the flow. I've never met a person that up and down and indecisive before in my life and I hope I never will.

This just made Skylar a flat and unbelievable narrator for me. Whenever she decided something, you would know it would take another 5 chapters for something to happen - and things only happened when Caleb was there. And it also means that there was a consistency problem, since Skylar was very different in book one and apparently almost no time passed between the two books. This makes it hard for the reader to enjoy the two books together. 

Caleb is vanilla.

You know those people who are nice enough, but just aren't really special? They don't really stick with you, you don't remember them at all? That's Caleb in Rival Hearts. He's nice enough and he tries to do the right thing, but I kinda don't really remember him at all. 

The things I can remember is that at least he could make decisions (thank God) and that he was more rounded as a character, which made him easier to relate to. Though he is pretty stupid, because the big plot twist in this book has to do with him and I'm sure every single reader sees it coming, but Caleb doesn't. Not even when every other character in the book figures it out. But other than that, there are no real objections to Caleb - he's just there.

School Vandalism

What saved this book for me was the school vandalism storyline. Just like in book one, the school is being ruined and everyone blames Skylar. Though we know Skylar didn't do it, it is a pretty big twist in who did do it. I didn't see it coming and the suspense of figuring that out kept me reading. (Though at some point I wish Skylar did do it so she would have to leave school and Caleb could find a nice little vanilla girlfriend - he deserves it)

Besides that, the writing style makes the book easy and nice to read. Natalie Decker is the perfect writer for Young Adult books, because she doesn't make her stories too easy, but they are still relaxing to read.


Obviously I can't rate the book very high if I despise the way one of the characters was portrayed. Natalie Decker is a good writer, but she somehow seems to have lost the idea of Skylar from book one. This is a shame and I really hope she'll pick it up again in book three, because this Skylar is pretty awful.