August 6, 2015

Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Publication date: Aug. 4, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Summary: Best friends Dave & Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table, dissecting drama & plotting campaigns for prom king & queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never do in high school. Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow. 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. 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 & Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. Maybe even on love. (greads.com)

The good
Never Always Sometimes is about two best friends, Dave and Julia, who make a list of things they should never do so they don’t become the typical high school teenager. They’re now seniors and they’ve more or less stuck by their Never list. Except now, they’re wondering if they should start doing everything they said they wouldn’t. Just for fun. Julia is the one who suggests this and Dave, as usual, is quick to agree with her. As they begin crossing things off their list though, it changes each of them and their relationship in ways they didn’t see foresee.

The list was a fun way to get these two out of the bubble they’ve been living in. For all four years of high school (and even before then), it’s been the two of them against the world. Little things on their list are silly, like never dying their hair certain colors. But the other seemingly dumb things like never be identified by your lunch spot or never attend/throw a party with beer bring about unexpected results. They — well, Dave specifically — starts to see their classmates in a different light. He realizes that not every peer is the dumb jock, popular cheerleader or [insert another stereotype here] they had assumed them be to. It’s a startling revelation for Dave and makes him see just how much they’ve been missing out on. But the biggest “nevers” on their list were to never pine silently for someone and to never date your best friend. This isn’t a surprise but Dave has been doing both for the last four years and the object of his love is none other than Julia.

I really enjoyed Dave’s voice. The chapters alternate between his and Julia’s perspectives before combining them for the final section. Of the three, I enjoyed his chapters best because there was something very natural about his view of the world. He’s a guy who’s seeing everything and everyone differently and he doesn’t know what to make of this half the time. He’s thinks he knows what he wants. And he makes a lot of mistakes. But his flaws are part of what made me like him. Even though I wanted to yell at him, deep down I understood this was a good kid just trying to figure it all out.

(Some) Reservations
My main issue with the book was Julia. Through Dave’s eyes, Julia is beautiful, all sorts of quirky, strongly opinionated, witty and impulsive. I can easily sum her up in one word: manicpixiegirl. To be honest? I hate this trope. It’s never felt quite real to me. And that’s how I basically felt about Julia. For the most part, she felt like a character. It wasn’t until the end when she showed signs of maturity and introspection that she felt like a person. I think if we had the opportunity to understand her better or if the book had been told solely from Dave’s POV, I would’ve enjoyed it more.

Do I recommend?
I enjoyed Adi Alsaid’s writing a lot and I really liked Dave plus the important, secondary characters. I think it’s one of those books you just need to check out (from the library) for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed Never Always Sometimes too, even though I had a few reservations. I still think the story is pretty interesting, particularly how these two challenge their perspectives by trying to tackle all their "nevers". And I also think it ended well!

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