Title: Opposite of Always
Author: Justin A. Reynolds
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (UK)
Publication date: 4th April 2019
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, he knows he’s falling – hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.
But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.
Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.
Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.Taken from Opposite of Always
I’ll be honest with you. I don’t read a lot of YA and I definitely don’t read a lot of love stories – if any. If the blurb has the word ‘love’ or ‘romance’ in it, you’ve got a 99.9% chance of losing me without a backwards glance.
There was something about Opposite of Always that enticed me in and once I started reading, I was totally engrossed. Yes, it’s about love. And there’s some lust. Romance. But it’s about more than that – it’s about what it means to be alive and to live.
Reynolds is a master at developing characters. From Jack to his best friends Jillian and Franny, you get an in-depth look at their psychology. However, that’s not to say I liked them. I had really strong feelings towards Jillian and Franny, and I felt like they took from Jack more than they gave. In fact, I’m not sure they gave anything. Jillian particularly irks me as she is like a child with a toy she doesn’t want to play with, but when someone else wants the toy, it’s all she wants too.
The only character I didn’t feel like I got to know well enough was Kate. I didn’t fully understand what made her tick. I would’ve liked to have had a better understanding of her perspective of having lived with a chronic disease.
My out and out favourite characters are Jack’s parents. Married for 30 years, they show why it is important to always be working at relationships and prioritise each other.
The story itself is carefully constructed and it takes real talent to write a book about a character reliving the same day with minor variations. Opposite of Always does not get boring – the only thing I felt was frustration because I could see where Jack was going wrong and desperately wanted to guide him. But this isn’t meant negatively, it just goes to show how emotionally involved you can become in this book. At one point I actually said aloud: “Jack, what are you doing?!”. I don’t think anyone heard me…!
Aside from the story and the characters, the best bit about this book is the format. The chapters are pretty short, which I love. Some are shorter than others, but I felt like it helped keep the momentum going. I’m also one of those people who has to finish a chapter before they put the book down, so long chapters do not sit well with me.
Overall, this is an impressive debut by Reynolds, I’m interested to see where he goes with his work in the future.
Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books (UK) for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
justin a. reynolds was most recently a registered nurse, specializing in hematology and oncology, before trading his stethoscope for a pencil, but likes to think both instruments reveal the heart. He lives in northeast Ohio, home to snow, Lake Erie, and the Cavaliers. OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS is his debut novel.
© justin a. reynolds
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Have you read Opposite of Always? Planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments below!