Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Opposite of Always made me nostalgic for my teen years.
I’m the kind of person who re-reads books over and over again. Opposite of Always reminds me of a book that I read until the pages nearly fell out, Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. Both books deal with a character reliving a death… although in this case it is the death of Jack’s love Kate that is trying to be avoided.
Jack meets Kate on a college visit and falls head over heels in love. And then she dies.
When he wakes up before they ever met he has the chance to put things right. Save her. This novel shows his attempts to be the hero and find a way back to the young woman he met on the stairs at a party.
This novel had a lot of positives. Jack is a funny and likeable character, with a supporting cast of great friends. His friend Franny’s dad, The Coupon, is in prison. I really appreciated reading a novel where the characters surrounding the main character are more than just Back-Up 1 and Back-Up 2.
The way Jack interacts with the central premise is also really fun. He doesn’t just presume that the only path available to him is to stay in a relationship with Kate. It might be possible to save her in another way…
The diversity rep in Opposite of Always was also really impressive, both in terms of the representation of people of colour and the discussion of health conditions. I learnt about sickle cell anaemia in this novel, a condition which I didn’t really understand about before.
There were a few aspects that I found frustrating though. The relationship between Jake and Kate is explained much better in some of the later iterations. I have a better sense for why they care so much for each other, whereas in the first go around I do question a little what made Kate seem a better choice than Jillian – the girl Jake has known for years. I also felt that some parts of the book dragged a little and wonder if it would have been a little snappier if it had been shorter.
How did I feel about the ending? That’s a trickier question! I am curious to see how other readers find the conclusion to Jack and Kate’s story.
My overall rating, 4.5/5, reflects the fact that I know that teenage me would have jumped up and down in joy for this book. Figuratively, at least! It gives me the same feeling that the books I used to love back then did, allowing me to escape my worries and fears for a little bit.
Jack and Kate: a teen romance for the post-millennial generation.
Thank you to NetGalley, Pan Macmillan and Justin A. Reynolds for the opportunity to read in exchange for my honest review.