Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Title: Opposite of Always
Authors: Justin A. Reynolds
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 464 Pages
Published March 2019

Summary: When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over. But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves. 

When I first heard about this book, I immediately found myself invested in it. I'm sure that we've all experienced a moment or two within our lives where we wished we could've gone back and done things over again, so the idea of that happening in this story really made me curious. Is it possible to make decisions in the past that totally change the future? Especially when it involves medical things that aren't necessarily in a person's control? I was fascinated with the story, so I decided to check it out -- and I'm so glad that I did!

As the summary explains, Jack stumbles into Kate at a party, and he immediately finds himself infatuated with her, believing that she is the greatest love of his life. Before long, they really hit it off, and things are going really well -- that is, until Kate dies. Jack finds himself so devastated that he doesn't know what to do, and then suddenly he finds himself thrown back in time, to the night he and Kate first met. And then it all suddenly makes sense -- he's been thrown back in time to try to fix what happened to Kate, and to try and save her before it's too late. Only he keeps messing up again, and again, and again. So will he ever find a way to redo the past in a way that keeps Kate alive, or are some things just truly out of our control? How far would you go for someone that you love?

I really enjoyed reading this book. For starters, the concept was just really intriguing. The plot line reminded me of Groundhog Day but with a lot more emotion and definitely a lot funnier, LOL! But for real, this story really struck me and tugged at my heartstrings. It was clear from the very beginning how much Jack loved Kate and just wanted the best for her, and it became increasingly evident throughout all of the things he did to try and save her. It's a romance story that is right up my alley, with a somewhat supernatural element of time travel thrown in the mix, too. But for the most part, this book felt almost completely like a contemporary novel to me, which I really appreciated because that's the genre I love the most. At first I was worried that this book was going to be really sci-fi heavy because of the time travel, but it really isn't at all, so if you're apprehensive about that, I assure you that you have nothing to worry about! I read this over 450-paged book in two days because I just couldn't put it down and I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Even though it's a thick book, the story moves on very quickly and you'll find yourself struggling to put it down! There was definitely a lot of "one more chapter" syndrome with this one.

Another thing that I really liked about this book had to do with Reynolds's writing -- he is so funny, and this book kept me laughing out loud from start to finish! Jack's narrative voice is just so dang hilarious, and he's so hopelessly awkward in that dorky, adorable way that just makes you love him even more. Even though he didn't always make the best or smartest decisions every single time he was thrown back into the past, it was clear that he was doing it all out of love, and it made you feel bad for him while also loving him at the same time.

The only thing I wasn't super crazy about with this book was the fact that there were so many "do-overs". Not because they weren't important to the story -- because, believe me, they absolutely were -- but from a reading standpoint, it got a bit tiresome to read that same opening scene at the party over and over again, even if things were done differently each time. I definitely understand that some things are going to have to repeat themselves since Jack is going back in time and having to repeat events that already occurred, so it makes sense logistically. But from a reader standpoint, I found myself getting a little bit tired out toward the end. However, that's the only thing about this book that I wasn't super keen on.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Opposite of Always, and I'm so excited that it's been optioned for film, because this definitely strikes me as the type of story that would do well on the big screen. If you're looking for a gripping story to tug at your heartstrings while also making you laugh so hard that your stomach hurts, I definitely recommend picking this one up. It's safe to say that I'll be eagerly awaiting more of Justin's work in the future!

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