|Art by Stephanie Singleton|
Design by Erin Fitzsimmons
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds (457 pages)
Possible TW: Brief scene involving one of the characters getting shot.
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Overview: Jack meets Kate at a college party. They fall in love. The world falls apart. Kate dies. Jack's back at the party. Over and over and over again. She dies every time though. He can't get her the sickle cell cure in time. But he'll have to relive the same four months until he gets her the injection that will allow them to have a future together. Luckily, he seems to have an infinite number of chances to make it work. Overall: 4
Characters: 5 The characters make the book. Jack is sweet and insecure. He wants to help everyone, even if it hurts him. He's well meaning, goofy, cute, and a great lead. His friends are also very interesting. Jillian's pretty quiet but supportive. Franny is dating Jillian and is Jack's best friend. He wrestles with his dad getting released from prison and possibly rejoining his life.
Jack's parents are also wonderful. They're a lot like him and are a winning pair of parents that you'll totally find adorable. I also love how supportive and involved they are with Jack and his friends. They're the group's parents instead of just Jack's.
Kate is a grounded manic pixie dream girl. She's the object of Jack's infatuation, and only seeing her in the same 3 or 4 scenes makes it hard for her to feel fully fleshed out, but her story about dealing with sickle cell is interesting, and I'm happy to see the genetic disease represented. I wish we'd gotten to see her in a more diverse set of situations. Because he has a background with the other characters, we get to see more ranges of their personalities.
Plot: 3 I really liked it the first time around, but reading the same story four-ish times gets tiring. After 200 pages, I started skimming. I did get all the way through the book and the ending got a little better, but it was kind of a drag.
I do want to say that I don't think this is Reynold's fault. To do a Groundhog Day story, you have to repeat the same events over and over, but I just don't find this plays well in books. For movies, there can be quick montages that let you skip to the interesting/different parts. In books you really have to live every single minute again.
Writing: 4 On a line by line basis, I love Reynold's writing. It's so witty, and I love how he turns common phrases inside out and dissects them in a way that gets you thinking. He's great at building characters, and, the plot the first time around had me. I can't wait to see what he writes next.
Cover Corner: I've thought this cover was stunning from the first time I saw it on Edelweiss. The color palette is so inviting, and I love sketches of the characters. This is definitely a case where the cover drew me in and kept me coming back to the book until I finally bought it! The art is by Stephanie Singleton and the design is by Erin Fitzsimons.
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