Title: Top Ten
Author: Katie Cotugno
Length: 9 hours
Narrator: Arielle DeLisle
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Original Publication Date: 2017
Genre(s): Young adult, Romance, Contemporary
Ryan and Gabby have been best friends since they first met freshman year of high school, though the two couldn’t be more different. Ryan is Mr. Popular—charming personality, extremely outgoing, and a budding hockey star. Gabby, on the other hand, is just plain awkward—she has extreme social anxiety, hates parties, and would rather stay behind the camera than in front of it. But the two form a friendship like no other, and now, on the cusp of starting their freshman year at college, decide to make a Top Ten list of their favorite moments from high school. A lot can happen in 4 years . . .
I know what you’re all thinking: seriously, Alyssa, another bubbly YA romance? Another!? Yes. I’m as shocked as you are, honestly. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I’m becoming an absolute sucker. Top Ten is told in third-person omniscient with alternating Ryan and Gabby POVs. Each chapter is a number on their list, counting backwards from #10 to #1. Because of this, the story isn’t told linearly—each number on their list is from a different year, not always told in chronological order. So it gets a little confusing with bouncing back and forth in time, but not too much.
Having both Gabby’s and Ryan’s perspectives definitely helps readers sympathize with both characters, getting essentially “both sides of the story.” This was a good move on Cotugno’s part—I have a feeling that, if the book had been told only in Gabby’s perspective, I would have disliked Ryan, and vice versa. But this way, I really did like both characters. I was a little torn with Gabby, though… I heavily related to her anxiety. Like, listening to this book actually made me anxious. All of Gabby’s triggers are my triggers, and I have so many of her symptoms it’s unreal. One thing I did hate, though, was that she called her panic attacks “panickers.” I don’t know why… It just irked me. But while I related to Gabby, I didn’t always like her. She low-key treated Ryan worse than he ever treated her. But maybe that was just her anxiety talking. I can be a real bitch when I’m anxious, so…
But anyway, you spend this whole novel wondering, “are they going to live happily ever after?????” Because clearly you know they’re in love with each other, despite their amazing friendship. I won’t spoil it for you, but I can say I was disappointed with the ending for my own personal reasons. I’ll leave it at that.
Though similar to the light, fun Kasie West novels I’ve read, I wouldn’t say Cotugno’s novel was as fuzzy. I really thought it was a lot more serious and tumultuous than something like P.S. I Like You. Heavier topics and things like that. I enjoy the novel, despite the ending, and if you’re in the mood for a little YA romance/best friendship, you should check out Top Ten.