Book Review: Opposite of Always

Title: Opposite of Always

Author: Justin A. Reynolds

Genres:  Contemporary/SciFi

Pages: 450

Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

Review Copy: Purchased

Availability: Available now

Summary: 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 Fruit 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. 

Review: When I read the summary for Justin Reynold’s debut, I knew I had to get this book. What I didn’t know was that I would absolutely fall in love with it. If my schedule would have allowed it, this is one of those novels I would have stayed up late to finish, so invested in Jack & Kate’s story. There were many times I laughed out loud, shook my head at some of Jack’s decisions, had my heart break for him, but most of all, just loved the wonderful human being he was.

At it’s heart, Opposite of Always is a romantic comedy with a slice of science fiction-ness mixed in. And I loved it for it. Jack is just an average geeky teenager in the last few months of his senior year when he meets Kate, who is just as geeky, during a college visit. They immediately connect and the journey their relationship goes on (at least the first time) is filled with such sweetness that you fall in love with both of them. I loved that both of them were kind of awkward, were a bit nerdy, and had a fun sense of humor. I related a lot to Jack and Kate because of that. Their relationship was sweet and very real because Jack was so open, both to her and the reader, about what he felt and it was so refreshing.

So, I fell in love with both Jack and Kate’s budding relationship, then Kate dies. I won’t reveal what she dies of, but it hit me in my heart as I’ve taught students who experience what Kate does. I was so impressed with Reynolds for including Kate’s condition in this book because it’s one that I haven’t seen before and feel like kids who have the same condition will see themselves in this book.

Lastly, despite Kate dying repeatedly, and Jack getting more and more frantic with each trip back, Opposite of Always is a deeply touching novel. Aside from Jack and Kate’s story, it focuses on family with Jack having a wonderful relationship with his parents (whose romance is also very cute), and explores friendships that are on the cusp of change.  This novel has so many layers to it that will have the reader think, but also let the reader release a chuckle now and then.

Clearly other’s think this book is awesome too, which is why it is being adapted into a movie. I, for one, can’t wait to spend my money to see Jack & Kate on the big screen. But don’t wait for the movie, read the book and fall in love like I did.

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