Opposite of Always (ARC) by Justin A Reynolds

Released on March 5, 2019, Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds promised to be a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving.

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. But then 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. 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 to save the people he loves.

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I was really quite intrigued by this story, and actually quite excited to read what promised to be a heartwarming and genuine story. And while Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds was a heartwarming and genuine story, it was also downright boring. Seriously, this book will make for an excellent movie one day, and I honestly wasn’t surprised to hear it would be turned into a movie shortly after the book was released. But as a novel, the concept was dull, repetitive, and bland, despite the emotions behind this story.

“The thing is, you don’t forfeit your whole world to prove your feelings to someone. You bring your worlds together. You get more world, not less.” Justin A Reynolds, Opposite of Always

Why do I feel that Opposite of Always would be more successful as a movie? Well, perhaps that concept, outlined in the synopsis should give it away, but if it hasn’t, let me explain. The story goes like this: Jack meets Kate at a party, they instantly hit it off and their relationship begins. Then Kate unexpectedly dies, and Jack time travels back to meeting Kate for the first time over, and over, and over again with the opportunity to change something and help save her life, only every time something else in his life goes awry, resulting in Kate’s inevitable death. The premise would likely be engaging as movie, but as a book it quickly gets a tad bit repetitive.

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Despite this, Opposite of Always is a powerful character driven story, and Reynolds does not disappoint when it comes to the characters in his novel. Opposite of Always has such amazing characters who are almost all POC – in fact, the two main characters Jack and Kate are both black. Each time Jack gets a redo with Kate, the reader gets the opportunity to see how one tiny action on Jack’s part could mean life or death for Kate – and could also potentially ruin his longtime friendship with Jillian and Franny, or with his family. It’s all very introspective, and Jack’s own reflection on his actions will leave the reader reflecting upon their own life and own actions.

“Nothing good in life comes easy, but it’s about deciding each day that you will stick with it. You choose to stay, to work heard, to love, and you keep choosing.” – Justin A Reynolds, Opposite of Always

Overall, I just couldn’t bring myself to love – or even really like – Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds. While the characters are well-written and intriguing, this simply couldn’t outshine the shadow cast by the sheer repetitiveness and blandness of the looping plot (2/5).

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