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Technically, You Started It

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When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you're talking to. Except there's two of them (it's a long story), and Haley thinks she's talking to the one she doesn't hate.

A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they're becoming addicted to each other.

There's just one problem: Haley doesn't know who Martin is. And Martin doesn't know that Haley doesn't know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .

384 pages, Hardcover

First published June 25, 2019

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About the author

Lana Wood Johnson

2 books146 followers
Lana Wood Johnson was born and raised in Iowa in the time before the internet but has spent the rest of her life making up for that. Lana lives in Minnesota with her husband and their English bulldog.

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5 stars
867 (18%)
4 stars
1,630 (35%)
3 stars
1,458 (31%)
2 stars
490 (10%)
1 star
148 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,158 reviews
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
Want to read
April 26, 2019
Technically, my tbr shelf is laughing at my face but I WILL read this book so who's laughing NOW*

*not me I'm crying
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
July 30, 2019
This book is difficult to review because it had a lot of potential but it was just.... bad. First and foremost, I think this book would have been so much more enjoyable to an actual teenager, so I might have liked this better when I was in high school. But then again, I think even a teenager would find the writing style problematic and sort of unrealistic for how teenagers talk, so it's difficult to recommend.

This book is told entirely through text messages. I think this could have been an interesting and fast-paced format, but it just flopped in multiple ways. The characters very quickly got on their high horse and bonded about how they nEvEr use emojis or gifs because the main character said something pretentious about communicating with words rather than pictures. This was the beginning of a string of personality traits the main character had that made me SO annoyed with her. She's the type of "nerdy" girl who has a bunch of niche knowledge and always inserts it into the convo just to flex on whoever she's talking to. It was so weird and awkward, and if it was me texting her, I would have ghosted her because she's so uncomfortable to hold a conversation with. And that's my lasting impression of this book is that texts should be fun and low stakes and easy to read, but this book was painful and almost... boring?

Also, this book just deals with so much unnecessary drama. The main character's friend group is the WORST and every day she reports back what girl is mad at who and what girl is dating who and why she's annoyed at them and it just felt like such childish drama that was also SUPER confusing because we never actually get to see them outside what the main character explains. In general, I wish this book would have focused more on developing a relationship between the two characters rather than them just coming to rant to one another about their lives because it was written really confusing since we only had the POV of texts.

I would love to read another book in this format, but this one was far too uncomfortable to read because of the awkward and unrealistic dialogue, the cringy and underexplained drama, and how predictable it was. There were definitely parts that made me crack a smile and I liked the discussion of the characters' sexualities (the mc is demi and the love interest is bi), but I don't think this author was the right person to write this type of story, unless she watches a lot more Tik Toks and does research on how teens actually talk and interact.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
596 reviews816 followers
May 11, 2020
okay, i was not expecting Johnson to get it right BUT

she really knows. some teens text with all lowercase (jack) some text w/ lots of emojis (martin), some use perfect punctuation (our MC)

the only qualms i had about the texting+voice were that
1) it was unrealistic that there were THAT many periods on both sides. capitalizing i understand bc autocorrect but a lot of people just send texts off sans periods. they're so....formal
2) needed more meme culture esp. given how our MC is a Nerd, i definitely thought some good ol' memes would have been a little more accurate

but overall the voice was much more accurate than I expected and *fit* the characters. a very quick and fun read
Profile Image for Rue.
274 reviews217 followers
November 28, 2019
⭐⭐⭐⭐4 stars
I just love the trope where two people don't meet but start bonding through (letters/ texts/ mail). And develop friendship which later can turn into something else when they start to know each other. (I am not talking about sexting here) what I mean is the most platonic way two people start forming chemistry and if it's done well chances are I am going to rate it high.💓
This book isn't for everyone. You'll feel more connected to the plot if you are teenager (Or you like the trope I mentioned) cause at times it can feel a bit childish. I think the mystery part was quite predictable, I don't know why it took so long for Haley to figure it out. I liked how this book also talks about sexuality, Haley's friends are kind of popular and are trying new things so she is confused as to why she isn't sexually attracted to any guy thinking that she might be asexual (Which later turns out to be demi-sexual). And Martin confesses to her via text that he could be bisexual. And the way it is handled is amazing. There's hardly anything flirtatious going on so that might be another red flag which can feel boring to read. Some nerdy terms were hard for me to understand. It also focuses on how we start judging people just because we have heard something bad about them from someone else (friends). So don't judge a book by it's cover 😂
Mistaken identity ✔️
Frenemies ✔️
Misunderstanding ✔️
Cute Friendship✔️

If you liked "Technically, you started it" You might like the webcomic Your Letter
(It's super light hearted and it made me emotional)
If you have any other recommendation for books that has this trop, mention it in the comments cause I would love to read more 😱🌸
Profile Image for Dylan.
547 reviews228 followers
June 17, 2019
It has pretty great representation (main character is demisexual and love interest is bi), but the characters seemed pretty bland to me so I had a hard time connecting to them at all. womp.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,766 reviews650 followers
May 17, 2020
I wanted to read this book because of the demisexual rep, but I had no idea the format is text messages only. This seemed like a very fun and refreshing format, so I was extra excited to read this book once I found out about this. And it was so well done! I had a lot of fun reading this, and I loved how it showed that online messaging can have a lot of depth. As someone who values internet friendships, this was lovely to see represented in a book: even if the characters technically already knew each other in real life, they truly got to know each other through texting.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into the story. Because there's dialogue only, and you're sort of thrown into the story, which makes it kind of hard to figure out the setting at first. It didn't help that the initial text conversations felt a bit forced. But after 50 pages or so, the messages became more personal and gained more depth, and I started to really love this.

I especially loved the questioning demisexual rep, as well as the anxiety rep. There was so much depth and growth here, which I think it quite impressive for a book that's essentially dialogue only.

Rep: questioning demisexual MC with anxiety, bisexual love interest
Profile Image for Kosoko Jackson.
Author 13 books473 followers
September 18, 2018
Technically, You Started It is a magical, beautiful, fluffy tale that you're going to be heart eyes over and you need to pre-order as soon as you can. I'm not even joking.
Profile Image for Sam Chase.
687 reviews115 followers
November 26, 2019
Rating: 3 stars

I had a really fun time reading this book! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a book made up entirely of text messages goes by in such a flash. The format was definitely the most unique part of this book, and it kind of makes or breaks the story. Honestly, I wish they'd had Haley's and/or Martin's text conversations with other characters as well, just to get a little break from the same old relationship. I think would have broken up the story and made it even more enjoyable. I also thought the ending was kind of awkward, and done super quickly. Once Haley figures out the answer, there's like ten pages and the book is over. Couldn't we get more of a lead-in? Or her reactions? I don't know, it just seemed rushed to me.

What I DID love about the story, however, was how much fun it was. The banter was hilarious, I loved getting to know these characters, and they both talked about really personal details that made the book more realistic. This was the perfect easy read when you have a lot going on, and you just want some fluff in the background.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,696 followers
November 26, 2019
A nice, quick, and charming read! This book is told entirely in text messages (and it kind of worked?!), this is a light and fun read.

- Follows Haley, a demisexual teen, and Martin, a bisexual teen, whose texts about a class project evolves into an electric conversation and relationship. Almost like You've Got Mail, but teens and text messaging.
- There's explicit discussions about sexuality (especially demisexuality, which we don't see often!), and the way that it was done was really authentic and... sweet? I liked that a lot.
- I was wary that this book was told in text messages, but I think the format worked very well for what the story was trying to say and for its emphasis and focus on the characters and their relationship.
- Reading this made me feel nostalgic about the times when I was a teen and had to abruptly say goodbye to my friends, even when the conversations were getting good. 'Got to go, eating dinner!' heck. MOOD.
- I listened to this as an audiobook, so missed out on the MCs' personalities conveyed by the way they typed. Still, I have to hand it to the narrators who had to verbalise '???' which sounded a lot like 'hngh????'.
- Though I enjoyed listening to this, I don't feel like this story is particularly memorable or impactful. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and I'll thank the book for a good 2ish hours.
Profile Image for Sabi.
750 reviews183 followers
December 21, 2021
Might've liked it in the past. But, I'm just... maybe, too grown up now for this.

The book is all in text messages and it was nice for a while but then, it became boring for me. Could've edited 100 pages or so and it definitely would have been a 3-3.5 star read.
Profile Image for Diana .
54 reviews54 followers
January 19, 2022
Technically, I am deceived by a book cover once again.

Reading this book felt like invading someone's inbox; however, the conversation wasn't all that intriguing so what's even the point of committing a cybercrime? Or maybe I'm just not a big fan of stories in a text message format.

Even if I did like getting a tad bit smarter about acetaminophen's soothing effects to existential dread and different types of sand, Haley and Martin just sound so bland and too alike that it's hard to believe that they're two different people texting.

Also, I have guessed II was M all along because it was too obvious. I'm surprised that considering how smart Haley is supposed to come off, she didn't even notice.

Anyway, I still slightly enjoyed this read. It wasn't all bad but also not that good.
Profile Image for • fio •.
76 reviews32 followers
December 7, 2021
Me gustó, fue divertido, los temas que trató (problemas de los personajes) creo que fueron profundos y pertinentes para la edad de los mismos, es algo que no se suele ver en el género (que traten bien ciertos temas y que no se los tomen a la ligera).
Siento que le faltó un cierre, es muy difícil resumir las interacciones cara a cara en mensajes, siento que se omitieron muchas cosas. Los problemas de los personajes se plantearon bien pero no se ofreció ninguna solución (sobre cómo ellos podrían lidiar con esos problemas, no resolverlos), al menos con la mayoría.
En general me gustó y pase un buen rato, es un libro muy adictivo pero un texto dd este tipo no podría jamás merecerse 4 estrellas.
Lo recomiendo para afrontar un bloqueo lector.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
Author 3 books123 followers
August 1, 2018
Full disclosure, I read this book as a critique partner.

I am a Lana Wood Johnson super fan. Technically, You Started It is an absolute gem. The characters are charming and quick-witted. There is something about the quiet way these characters knot themselves together through a series of text messages that will make you fall in love just as much as I did. Even many months later, I am still thinking about this book and its characters.

Profile Image for Bookishvette.
461 reviews13 followers
February 5, 2020
Well it was an enjoyable read 💕
If you want something cute you should really read this one...i really liked the whole texting format of the book .. made it interesting 🧡
Profile Image for Belly (Aspiringliterati).
220 reviews31 followers
December 20, 2019
THIS!!! BOOK!!! IS!!! SO!!!! ADORABLE!!!!

Do you ever get the feeling that you'll love a book right from the 1st sentence or chapter ? Well that's what happened to me with this one. From the 1st text, I know I'd enjoy the hell out of it and I DID SO MUCH.

Hayley and Martin's blooming friendship moves smoothly into the "and more" territory, through a string of texts, where both characters find themselves getting more than what they expected from this relationship. It was so heartwarming seeing them both reveal aspects of themselves to each other that they'd never shown to anyone else. With a hell lot of snarky comments, teasing and quirky traits thrown in between. It was just perfect!

Bonus points: Mental Health talks that felt so real it hurt, bisexual MC AND demisexual MC !!
Profile Image for chloe ♡.
394 reviews264 followers
Want to read
July 29, 2019
i'm sad,, there's something wrong with my ebook copy the formatting's all weird :(
Profile Image for Duck.
127 reviews434 followers
April 6, 2020
*On-page demisexual and bisexual rep!!! Also on-page for GAD*

I picked up this book at midnight thinking I’d read the first few pages and I read the WHOLE THING, feat. accidentally saying “fuck” way too loud considering my parents were asleep a few doors down, dropping the book in panic bc the moment was just Too Good™️, and getting progressively more and more invested.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,175 reviews251 followers
May 20, 2020
This was a wonderfully quick audiobook that worked well with the all text message format, and I don't feel like I lost anything by not seeing it visually. But there was a kinda weird choice the narrator for Martin dig that bugged be to start with, but I got used to it. Haley and Martin have great chemistry and I really enjoyed seeing them get closer together over the course of the story. Both characters identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum (Martin as bisexual and Haley as demi sexual) which was a pleasant surprise. It's definitely not a large part of the story, but they do talk about their identities with each other. And while the plot hinges on miscommunication, it never really frustrated me like a lot of other miscommunication plots. A quick fun read that's great for summer.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,436 reviews234 followers
July 22, 2019
The chances of meeting one Martin Nathaniel Munroe II were slim to none, but Haley happened to know of TWO Martin Nathaniel Munroe II, because their parents wanted to name them both after their grandfather. Not very original, and also, very confusing, but the situation created the perfect storm for a fun mistaken identity type romance.

I had heard this book was amusing, but it was laugh out loud funny for me. These two shared some epic banter, and both were witty and possessed a sense of humor I appreciated. Once I started reading, I honestly had to keep going. I was so captivated by their exchanges, which ranged from the most banal to the most bizarre and included some really personal and touching things too.

I was a little leery of a book comprised of only text messages, but Johnson really impressed me with everything she was able to accomplish with the format. First and foremost, I must commend her on how well written both characters were. Their voices were truly distinct. I am not one to trash the formatting of an eARC, but this one had ZERO formatting, and yet, I could tell, with ease, when Haley or Martin were speaking. That right there says a lot for how well these characters are crafted.

I also liked the way the more serious discussions evolved. They never seemed forced or oddly out of place, but rather, each fit well with events that had arisen outside of the texts.

In this day and age, many people begin their relationships online, and that's sort of exactly what happened here. With no face to face communication, Haley was able to get to know THIS Martin free from all her prior misconceptions about him. I think that allowed her to really speak freely and interact with him without any bias, and what an opportunity she would have otherwise missed.

Overall: This was a wonderfully amusing, fun, and touching story, which delighted this character-driven reader.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,297 reviews2,289 followers
September 24, 2019
The most annoying, irritating read of the year. It's not the sms format of the book that ruined it. I am always ready for new writing style and all but this was plain annoying and the characters were like too annoying. I should have DNFED this one. Nope. It doesn't get better.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,158 reviews

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