Monday, August 3, 2015

Double ARC Review: Never Always Sometimes - Adi Alsaid

Never Always Sometimes
Adi Alsaid
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Thanks to Harlequin Teen for the ARCs we received at BookExpo America!

!!! This was the first book I read after coming home from BEA, because meeting the author was fabulous and Adi Alsaid is an awesome person, and also because the book just had an undeniable appeal for me. It has a great title, the blurb made it sound super interesting, and it's a YA romance so needless to say, you didn't have to ask me twice.

The book is about best friends Dave and Julia, who, before high school, make a list of 10 cliches they never want to be apart of in high school (they are too cool and quirky for the actually fun lameness of high school). The list includes such gems as "Never hook up with a teacher," and "Never date your best friend."

I know what you're thinking: that escalated quickly. So of course, senior year, what do Dave and Julia decide to do? Complete the list of nevers. I know what you're thinking again: so if they do all the cliches listed, like hooking up with a teacher or dying their hair, wouldn't they by default also have to date each other and secretly pine after one another? You are correct yet again. While this would normally annoy me that this was kind of glazed over, I think with the way these characters were constructed, it was really believable.

Julia has this crazy energy about her, and is quirky in a way that reminded me of John Green's characters. She is insanely caring and just her voice is really interesting to read about/from the perspective of. Dave is honestly kinda bland and neither here nor there on the interesting character front, but he does make some rather unpredictable choices so I was into that.

More interesting than the actual characters was the relationship between the two of them. It seemed everything happened so quickly too so I think the characters had to be this quirky and weird to make the plot work. Everything separately (the characters, the plot, little plot holes) would not work at all, but they are so cohesive and work so well all together, especially with Alsaid's writing.

I don't want to give any of the actual plot away because there are a lot of cliches in there but it's written really well and also, you have to expect the cliches because you signed up for it when you picked up a book about cliches. I enjoyed the dialogue for the most part too. Here's the deal, I don't think you could pick up a cutesy YA romance and ask for much more than this. The characters are interesting, there's a love triangle out of nowhere, there are some unexpected turns taken, and overall the writing is compelling and fun and most of all, warm.

- Amrutha

Kiersten's Never Always Sometimes Review
Rating: 4 stars

I apologize in advance for how often a form of "cliché" is used in my review.

When I started reading Never Always Sometimes, I thought I knew how I wanted it to end - it seemed so clear to me what I would be rooting for that I never gave it a second thought. Even as plot lines that could get in the way of what I expected started popping up, I still thought I knew what I wanted to happen and what would inevitably happen. After finishing Never Always Sometimes, all my expectations and thoughts about what I wanted to happen have been thrown out the window. Never Always Sometimes was not what I expected, but I really liked it all the same.

The concept of Never Always Sometimes was super cute - two best friends make a list of clichés to never do so they can have an original high school experience. Of course, choosing not to participate in clichés simply because they are cliché is kind of unoriginal, which Dave and Julia sort of figure out along their end of high school adventure of completing the Nevers list. I really liked what Adi Alsaid did with this concept - rather than simply saying high school clichés exist because they're the best way to have fun in high school, Alsaid explores what it meant for these characters to avoid certain experiences just to be contrary and what happened to them once they decided to throw caution to the wind and just live. While playing up all the high school contemporary romance clichés out there, Never Always Sometimes shows that choosing to do sometime or not do something because it's clichéd isn't a good way to live your life - you should do what you want to do, create the experience you want to have.

Dave and Julia are certainly not extraordinary characters, which is kind of the point. Despite having avoided all those clichés, they're still impeccably average. While their humor might be slightly sharper than most people, their general ordinariness is part of what makes them so relatable to readers. Neither of them is going through any crazy, life changing thing like just losing a parent, having cancer, etc. - they're just regular kids living out the rest of high school. I loved seeing the way their friendship was built, with Dave being the more insecure counterpart to Julia's seemingly effortless confidence, and all that they experienced together throughout the book.

I'm going to keep this review short for fear of sort of spoiling something. Never Always Sometimes was somehow everything I expected while being nothing like what I expected. Adi Alsaid builds a wonderful story out of complete ordinariness, showing how even if you are ordinary or cliché, it doesn't matter as long as you're happy. I highly recommend Never Always Sometimes to fans of cutesy contemporary romance!

- Kiersten

What are some high school clichés you took part in?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I really enjoyed this one and am so glad you both did as well! It’s very compelling, like you guys said, and was both everything and nothing like I’d expected (also like what you said). Can’t wait to read more from this author–the writing is really well done. Great reviews!! :D

  2. I have this book sitting on my Nook collecting dust. I have only heard great things about it and have no idea why I'm letting it sitting around! Great reviews, guys :D

    Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger