I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 4, 2015
Source: the publisher
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Never date your best friend.
Always be original.
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
A message from Meredith: Hey everyone! Today, I have Amber here with a guest review for Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid.
You can find Amber on Book Stacks Amber and on Twitter!
Without further adieu, here’s Amber’s review! Enjoy!
Never, Always, Sometimes is the story of Dave and Julia. Before starting high school, they create a list of “Nevers,” things to never do in order to avoid become clichés. Flash forward three years to the start of senior year, when one of them rediscovers the list and Julia decides it’s time to tackle all of their “nevers.” The book revolves around this list, and that was my favorite aspect of the story.
Their story is told in third-person omniscient, which isn’t something I’ve seen very often in YA. It’s broken up into three parts:
Part One: Dave
Part Two: Julia
Part Three: Dave and Julia
Dave was my favorite character so I enjoyed his chapters the most. I thought the narrative style and the way the book was broken up into parts really worked well for this story.
Because the book revolves around Julia and Dave checking cliché experiences off their list, the story itself is full of clichés, which I thought was really interesting but I think some people who typically avoid YA contemporary for that reason wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. For example, one of the items on their never list is to never fall in love with your best friend. You can probably imagine where the story went. There is a love triangle but I thought it was handled really well. One of the things I really liked about this book is that the characters weren’t over the top and annoying. Sometimes I feel like teen characters in YA and written to be super dramatic people who overreact about everything. I felt like, for the most part, Dave and Julia were mature and had realistic reactions to the events that took place. There were times when I thought Dave could have spoken up more when Julia was enacting crazy schemes in order to check something off the list, but then maybe the story wouldn’t have been as entertaining.
The adults in the book didn’t have big roles, but I loved all of them and wish they’d had a bigger part in the story. Julia’s dads were both great, and it can be so hard to find healthy, supportive parent-child relationships in YA. Julia’s bio-mom is mentioned throughout the book, but didn’t lend much of anything to the story except to further explain/excuse Julia’s weird manic pixie dream girl persona and appeared and disappeared throughout the book. Julia tries to seduce one of her teachers for the sake of crossing an item off the Never list, and although I was cringing extra hard during those parts, and I wish we’d gotten to hear more from her teacher. Julia is SO MEAN to him, and although she later apologizes and they repair their relationship, I never got the closure I wanted from them.
I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but things took a turn that I was not expecting and it left me disappointed in everything that happened after. The POV the book was written in was interesting, but it always left me wanting to know more about what in the world the characters were thinking when they did something unexpected and out of the blue. Dave and Julia were the best of friends, so it was surprising that after a few terrible moments, suddenly they were completely unable to connect and understand each other. That wasn’t realistic to me and seemed out of character for them both.
Overall, I did enjoy the story but the second half dragged for me, and the ending didn’t give me the closure that I wanted. I think 20 more pages would have been enough to wrap up Julia and Dave’s story more completely.