Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.
He almost made valedictorian.
He almost made varsity.
He almost got the girl . . .
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.
But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because 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. Beautiful, radiant Kate. 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—and let go—to save the people he loves.
Opposite of Always was a really interesting book. Mostly, I was captivated by the cover – give me all of the YA contemporaries with really bright colored covers and I shall read them all. However, as soon as I learned that it also had a time-travel element, I was even more intrigued.
I adore time travel stories. Movies such as About Time, Time Freak and 13 Going on 30 are some of my favorites. I especially love the different life lessons this trope brings, and that’s why I was so excited to learn what Justin A. Reynolds would come up with for this story.
- The writing style. This book is hilarious and incredibly witty. I realized it as soon as I read the first chapter. There’s something really interesting about the way the author builds conversations between narrator and reader, making you even more engaged in the story. The dialogues were also funny and full of banter, which I admire a lot.
- The friend group is badass. Jack is constantly surrounded by his two best friends, Jillian and Franny, who also happen to be a couple. However, in contrast with others stories I’ve read in which the best-friends are also dating, Jillian and Franny were surprisingly normal and didn’t create an uncomfortable atmosphere around Jack at all. On the contrary, they were incredibly supportive friends and their friendship was one of the most important aspects of the story. I loved the way it showed the care and love they all share for each other and especially Jack and Franny had one of the most amazing bromances, full of non-toxic masculinity I’ve ever read about.
- Jack’s parents. I’ve stated multiple times before my love for great family relationships and Opposite of Always did not lack on those. Being an only child, Jack has all the attention he could want from his parents, and I loved the way the author created a really natural and beautiful relationship between them. It was clear just how much trust they had on each other, making it a really close, but also open in the way i-can-tell-you-anything relationship. There was also the contrast of Franny’s family relationship, that was much more complicated. He was raised by his abuela, since his father was absent most of the time, and throughout the book we can see his struggles, as he finds in Jack’s family the love and attention that he misses, while still wanting to please his dad.
- The representation! The entire cast of Opposite of Always is black, which is truly amazing. But what I loved the most is that this book is not necessarily there to make any deep political or social commentary; it’s just a fluffy YA contemporary about a guy trying to get a girl. Stories like that are just as necessary, because it allows other folks to find a book similar to ones they’ve read before, but this time, they can relate and see themselves into.
- Sometimes, the characters were just infuriating. Look, I loved Jack and I loved Franny and Jillian too, but sometimes they’d just make the worst decisions ever. Especially Kate. Since we’re reading the entire novel from Jack’s perspective, it’s hard not to be mad or upset towards Kate when she makes certain decisions, but even the protagonist himself frustrated me sometimes, by making really selfish decisions and not communicating as he should.
- The ending. I feel like things were just not wrapped up at all. I’m typically okay with open endings, as I feel like it’s unfair to expect that teenagers, with a whole life ahead of them, will be able to close their stories tightly and perfectly. I understand the need of open endings sometimes, but this was not it. It felt like a lazy move of “I don’t know exactly how to end this, so I’m just gonna end it“. Plus, the whole ‘life lesson‘ attached to this story did not feel grand or relatable at all.
This book is definitely one I’d still overall recommend, even if the ending frustrated the heck out of me. As I said before, stories that are diverse but just because everyone deserves to have an adorable love story about them, are important and definitely needed on the YA community.
However, as someone who loves time travel, and expects dramatic life lessons, such as the one on 13 Going on 30 – the person you are now is exactly who you need to be – or About Time – live every moment as if it was your last -, I was very disappointed that this one did not feel relatable at all. But, still, others out there may have better luck with this ending than I did.
If you have read Opposite of Always, what were your thoughts on it? How did you feel about the ending? Let’s discuss in the comments!