Published by Harlequin Teen
on August 4th 2015
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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 die 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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The thing I love most about Adi Alsaid’s books is the passion he has for them. The first time I met him he was doing press for his debut book Let’s Get Lost. When he talked about the book you could tell he genuinely loved his book and what he does. Because of this (and because I enjoyed his debut) I was really excited for Never Always Sometimes. And truth be told, I really enjoyed this one too. Did I think it had some flaws? Sure. But when it came down to it I thought the story and emotions were strong.
Never Always Sometimes is about Dave and Julia. They have been friends for a long time and refuse to turn into a cliché when they enter high school. So they make a list of things they will never do, a list that they have managed to stay away from for 3 full years. But as the navigate Senior year and life begins to feel too mundane Julia suggests they do all the nevers. Suddenly feeling like they are in a rut Julia decides it to time they do all the nevers. But as the rules they had abided by for 3 years start to disappear boundaries open and things change. Dave and Julia find themselves in uncharted territory and have no clue if they will make it out intact on the other side.
I’m a sucker for list stories. Anything that has a list and I’m in. I like the structure of it. I like how you can see things be crossed off and have a feeling of accomplishment. The plot of Never Always Sometimes is based solely on a list and that list changes the path of the main characters. In all honesty that was my favorite part of the book. I loved seeing how each item changed things between the main characters. Even something as simple as dying hair sent them on a path that was unexpected and that was fantastic.
This story took place in a lot of different settings. It almost felt like a road trip where the reader was never in one place for two long. We were in high school and in a tree house and on a beach and at the water front. I felt like the backdrop was constantly moving but not at a way that was overwhelming. It actually fit the story in a perfect kind of way.
I guess this is where the struggle came in and it happened for 2 reasons. 1) Never Always Sometimes suffered from a dual POV. The book was really strong in the beginning when it was just told from Dave’s side. I liked him as a character, I liked him as best friends with Julia, I liked him as a person. He was a good narrator/story teller and I found it refreshing to see the inside of his head and what he was thinking. But then after about half the book was done we were given a dual POV of Julia and Dave. This didn’t work for me. It didn’t see natural or organic. I really just wanted to know what Dave was thinking and feeling more than Julia. Which brings us to reason 2; Julia. She wasn’t as developed as Dave. I didn’t like her as much because I didn’t know her as much. I didn’t understand why she did some of the things she did. I had no idea why she wanted to work on the Nevers list. And I sure as hell didn’t understand her attachment to a certain family member. By having me listen to her POV without knowing her it kind of took away from what I loved about the book.
All in all I did enjoy Never Always Sometimes. It used a familiar troupe (I won’t say what it was) but did something a little different with it, something I hadn’t read in other books. Even not liking some aspects I enjoyed it for what it was and enjoyed Dave as a character. Are there things I would have changed? Definitely. But I think it is one giving a shot. You never know, what bugged me you may love. A solid second book.