book review: opposite of always, by justin a. reynolds

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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!

18 comentários sobre “book review: opposite of always, by justin a. reynolds

  1. i feel the SAME way about ya contemporaries with bright coloured covers lol

    i’m glad to hear you enjoyed it and the positive aspects you mentioned make it sound SO AMAZING, like humour, and friend group, and parents in ya??? im already a fan
    sorry it wasn’t a new favourite though, i hope your next read it 5 star worthy!!

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    • contemporary book: *has a bright pretty cover*
      me, without even reading the synopsis: you look good i want it
      they truly were amazing parts of the book and i hope more people get to read this story, because it served characters like i hadn’t seen in a long time in ya!
      thank you so much for stopping by, may! 💛

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  2. I’m obsessed with the cover of this book!!! I got this book from the library a few months back but I had to turn it back it before I was able to finish it, haha.
    And by what I read, I totally agree with your ‘likes’ about this book!! The friend group in it was to adore. I should really pick it back up again 👀 👀

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    • SAME! This cover is soooo adorable!
      The friend group was a surprise for me, because I thought the book was going to focus more in the romance than in the friendship, but it offered a good balance of both, which I’m super happy for!
      I really hope you get around to it again soon and enjoy the ending more than I did! 💞

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  3. Ahhh Lais I’m so happy you read and mostly enjoyed that one, yay! I found the concept of the story SO good and I also loved the author’s writing, it made this such a fun read. I also adored how central the friendships were and the parents, too <3 But I agree with you about the ending… somehow I felt like something was really missing for things to wrap-up a little more, I felt like there should have been more pages or something to really… well, end things a little more neatly than that, it felt so abrupt! :)
    Lovely review! :)

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    • The concept was the story was indeed really great and captivating. I’ll definitely consider picking up whatever else the author releases in the future, because his dialogues were really funny and witty.
      And, yes, I totally feel like just a few more pages would have done it and helped make this a much more well-rounded story :(
      Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Marie! 💛

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  4. Lais *such* an excellent review!! Reading it was so helpful to me as I did buy a physical copy of this book primarily because of the cover 😂😂 ohhh noo, I’ll definitely keep your complaints in mind. I actually haven’t read enough books that have to do with time travel, so we’ll see how I like this!

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    • thank you soooo much, caitlin! i know, this cover is gorgeous; i’d really like to have a physical copy of it in my shelves as well. i think if you’re not as attached to the time travel theme as i am, i’m sure you’ll have a much better time; i think my feelings were just clouded by my expectations, having already read & loved a lot of stories with a similar theme.
      thank you so much for stopping by! 😊

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  5. I’ve been waiting to read this post because now I’ve finally finished (the) opposite of always!
    I agree! I loved the humour and the conversations between all the characters, definitely a highlight of the book. But in the last go some of it was so infuriatingly wrapped up, like all Jack had to do was ask Franny about talking to the coupon & that was it! And I know that it’s saying how you should be honest with people blah blah blah but it just makes you HATE JACK FOR NOT DOING IT SOONER! And then the ending – omg, like, what even happened? It was the weirdest ending I think I’ve ever read 😂

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    • EXACTLY!!)#)!(!)!! i was just like omg if i knew it was going to be that easy for franny to accept the coupon-jack thing… he definitely should’ve done that a lot sooner!
      the ending was really weird. i was expecting jack to save her or not and at least get a really mind-blowing life lesson from it, but the author went for a completely different route instead? it was surprising, but not in a good way, hahah.
      thanks for sharing your thoughts, el! i was waiting to hear on them!

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  6. Hey Lais! I found you through El and I didn’t have time to say hi yesterday, so… hi!!! I really fell in love with your blogging style and the way you write your reviews- you convinced me to read this book (or at least add it to my endless TBR). I definitely hope we can stay in touch and I will absolutely be binging all of your posts!

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