Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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Rating: 4 stars
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.
“Human beings are more or less formulas. Pun intended. We are not any one thing that is mathematically probable. We are more or less than we are anything.”
Before starting high school, best friends Dave and Julia made a list of “Nevers” consisting of 10 typical high school clichés they refused to do in order to have an original high school experience. Fast forward to almost the end of their senior year, with college acceptances in and senioritis at it’s peak, Dave and Julia decide to complete all of the Nevers and allow themselves to have a more complete high school experience.
Never Always Sometimes is written in third person, but the story is written in three parts with the points of view changing during each (Dave, Julia, and Dave/Julia). Based on the amount of pages allotted to each part, you’re able to get a good amount of insight into Dave. He’s a very complex and fun character to read about. The first 30 pages or so, he wasn’t much of a favourite, but after that, I really enjoyed his chapters. Everything he said or did always had me wanting to keep reading.
Julia, however, seemed a little one dimensional to me. Where as I feel like Dave developed a lot over the course of the story, Julia seemed the same for 90% of the story and changed a bit towards the end. Then again, Dave seemed more put together in general than Julia had.
The other characters in the book were enjoyable to read about. Most times they appeared, they had something to offer to the story. Nothing is worse than a book where the secondary characters are there just because there needs to be a few, and in turn they are pointless to everything going on. Gretchen, Vince, and Brett all made their appearances and left their mark. Especially Gretchen. Every time she was there, it made the chapter I was reading so much better. She seemed like such a sweetheart and I kind of wish we got to know more about her because she was that great.
“That’s not enough. To be sorry you hurt me is not enough for me to forgive you.”
Adi Alsaid knows how to write a good YA novel. He had the right tone for a contemporary and nailed it with writing high school students. They weren’t these annoying little kids, but also didn’t seem like they were too ahead of themselves at 18. He also knows how to transport you into the setting of the book. Most times it felt like I could visualize this Californian high school vibe perfectly.
The plot of the book was good. At times a little unrealistic, but I guess that’s like most books in a high school setting. There’s always one or two plot points where you think “ok, there is absolutely no way on earth this is happening in real life. And if it did, it wouldn’t be happening that seamlessly.” The concept of the “Nevers” was intriguing and was one of the reasons I had thought to pick up Never Always Sometimes in the first place. Also, the story did not play out how I thought it was going to based on the synopsis/first little bit of the book. But oh my, am I ever happy with how it ended. The story ended up being much more than I expected, which was a very pleasant surprise.
The pacing was great. There was never any point in which I thought things were either progressing to slow or too quick. Everything moved along at a natural and realistic pace.
Overall, Never Always Sometimes was a really good contemporary YA read. Once I got past those first 30 pages, I didn’t want to put it down. Personally, novels in a high school setting are either a hit or a miss. This one was absolutely a hit. It was fun and charming and cute and all the other things a contemporary novel should be.