Monday, August 10, 2015

ARC Review: Never Always Sometimes

Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source: Harlequin Teen
Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

My Review


Meet Dave and Julia. They made a list of rules to follow the day before they started high school. Now they're seniors, and everything is about to change.

The first thing you should know about this book is that it's narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator. It's also divided into three parts:
Part One: Dave
Part Two: Julia
Part Three: Dave and Julia
The three parts embody different feelings, but one theme that is constant throughout all three is longing. Other than that, there is a lot to be said about Adi Alsaid's sophomore novel. I enjoyed the section about Dave the most. It's hilarious! I found myself laughing out loud as I quickly read about Dave and all of his thoughts on high school and what he thinks it's like to do everything he and Julia once said they never would do. Towards the end of his section, Alsaid lets on that there's going to be a shift, and then the reader finds himself/herself reading all about Julia, but the time progression keeps going. (You don't go back or forward in time.) Julia's section read a bit slower to me, and I didn't like it as much. It picked up again in the Dave and Julia section, but the last two-thirds of the novel, while entertaining and though-provoking, didn't appeal to me as much as the first section.

Onto the characters... To be honest, this is the first contemporary YA book I've read in a while that didn't drive me crazy because I liked all of the characters. Don't get me wrong... there are definitely a few cringe-worthy moments, but that's YA. Characters are supposed to mess up and learn from it. The two main characters have had their fair share of horrible life events, and I really think that these two will appeal to a different group of readers. Dare I say the unwilling-to-read high school crowd?

Dave just seems like the most chill and down-to-earth kid on the planet. I would love to have him as a best friend, and I can unquestionably see what Julia sees in him. He's just the perfect pal. Then there's Julia. She's the one who I thought I would dislike, and she has her moments, but all in all, I liked her. I just wish Alsaid would have explored her past a little more because it would make helping understand her anger and frustrations a little better. And then there's Gretchen. She's more of a minor character because we don't see her views, but she's just such a sweet character. You'll feel for her when you read this book.

I don't want to spoil anyone, but there are a lot of common tropes in Never Always Sometimes that I know a lot of YA readers don't like. So I'm just warning you that if you aren't a fan of some of the many common things we readers find in YA romances, you might want to stay away from this book. Alsaid handles the situations well and realistically, and I respect him for that, and to be honest, the situations didn't really bother me. I don't know if that's because it's a piece of fiction or if it's just because Adi makes these things seem like they could happen to you or one of your friends.

So... what's the final decision on this book? Never Always Sometimes is a good book. It had the potential to be a great book, but fell just a wee bit flat towards the middle. I am questioning those last few lines, though, Mr. Alsaid... Could we possibly see more of these two? I'd be down for it!

Would I recommend it? Yes, because it represents a different sort of high school experience, but one that will make readers laugh and cry. It's definitely a book that you should read before school goes back in a few weeks.

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