Never, Always, Sometimes
by Adi Alsaid
Published: 13th August 2015
Publisher: Mira Ink
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 clichés so they 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. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine secretly 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 and Julia discover they’ve actually been missing out on high school.
And maybe even on love.
I first heard about this book through Booktube, as it was available at the BookCon in America. As the Booktuber’s hauled this book, I thought the premise sounded cute – and that it’d be a light and easy read. I was sent an e-book ARC of this book and began reading it immediately. Thank you to Netgalley and Mira Ink for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. As I went into this book thinking that the premise for this book was a cute, contemporary read – that is essentially all I had hoped from this book, that it would be a nice, quick, light read. I knew going into it that it wouldn’t be a life changing read, and that I would base my review on that expectation.
The first thing that struck me was the third person perspective. I’ve not read a book from that perspective in a long time, and at first I felt it was a refreshing change but the further I read I actually felt this book would have worked better in a first person perspective. The book is split into three parts: the first is following Dave, the second follows Julia and the third flits back and forth between the two. For me, the first person would have left a better impression for me, and I would have connected more with the characters. I would have liked the characters to tell me their story, and not another narrator telling me how they felt. It really added a distance I was uncomfortable with.
The plot is actually quite clever. The characters have written a list of high-school clichés that they’re going to avoid throughout their time, and then they decide to tackle the list. This means that the author has actually written quite a clichéd storyline but has done it in a tongue-in-cheek way, and it works really well in my opinion. As they tackle the list of clichés, I figured I could predict what would happen but I was thankful to say when I came to finish this book, I was pleasantly surprised by it.
In terms of the characters, they again are complete clichés but they work for this story. I immediately liked Julia’s characters, she’s funny and feisty. I appreciated that she spoke her mind, and she was a free spirit. Dave, on the other hand, I didn’t like straight away. There was something I found dull about him, and it was only towards the end of this section that I saw some character strength. As I said earlier, I think first person perspective would have been beneficial for this character. I would have liked this character a lot sooner had I been able to relate to his inner monologue.
One thing I appreciated in this novel was the pace. It moved on quickly, and I’d read about 40% of this book before I’d realised. It was the quick, light read I was hoping for. There were moments that pulled at me, which meant that the dialogue and situations felt authentic. I particularly loved the banter between the two characters. The author writes in it a John Green-esque style, and so the dialogue is quick witted and quirky. Overall, this book was exactly what I’d expected to be. The author writes in a style that I enjoy and also was quite clever with using the clichéd plot to his advantage.
I’d recommend this book for fans of John Green style, and all looking for a light, cute read.