Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Title: Opposite of Always
Author: Justin A. Reynolds
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Length: 457 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
Death, Shooting, Racism, Illegal Gambling
Black, Puerto Rican

Wow.

So honestly… I don’t know what I feel about this book, and I’m going to apologize right now if nothing I write here makes sense. To be fair, I’m writing this at like 10pm after I just crammed a bunch of reading in before I had to sleep, and I’m trying to write this before I pass out and have a long ass day at work tomorrow. So, here we go, shall we?

Also a huge thank you so much to Bookin It With Ahtiya for being so patient with me and doing this buddy read with me. I think we both finished it today after putting it off for a couple weeks, so yay us!

Jack Ellison King – named for Jackie Robinson and Ralph Ellison – has a lot to live up to, but seems to be the King of Almost. He’s pretty average to say the least, but is smart and has a sharp tongue. He just barely doesn’t make it to where he wants to be, but that doesn’t mean that he’s doing bad in life at all.

Kate Edwards: our resident love interest. Well the main one anyway. The one that starts this whole time travel thing without either of them realizing it. It’s not her fault she keeps dying though. She’s quirky, smart, witty, loveable. She doesn’t want anyone’s pity, and just wants to live her life.

Jillian & Franny, Jack’s best friends for life. Jillian was actually his first love, but he never ended up telling her by the time Franny made his move. But these two work so well together, that it really doesn’t matter to Jack. They all love each other and are best friends, and they work well. For the most part.

It’s like if Chelsea & Eddie got together, and if Raven was a dude, I guess.

Bad analogy, but I think you may get it.

Boy meets girl.

Boy falls in love with girl.

Girl dies.

Over, and over, and over again.

Boy somehow gets stuck in a time loop and he does everything that he can to save her, but doesn’t realize that every single choice that he makes has consequences.

Boy does it anyway.

LOL.

I honestly don’t know what I liked about this book. Not saying that overall I didn’t like the book, because I did. But I feel like, after all of it, I just don’t know what I actually truly liked about it.

Maybe the friendship between Jack, Jillian and Franny and how it kind of stood the test of time? Maybe when things were really good between them, and they actually acted as a unit, they were a kind of friendship that I strive to have one day?

Maybe the love between Jack’s parents, and how even though they are about to hit their 30th anniversary, they show so much love to one another and it’s not cheesy at all but really awe inspiring?

Maybe Kate’s resilience to what’s wrong with her and how she doesn’t let that stop her from living her life? Not wanting to take pity from anyone?

Maybe those things. I’m not sure.

I hate Jack’s actions throughout the majority of the book. Why? Because I never knew how selfish someone could be, to the point that they would hurt the people that have been there for them for years, through everything, for something else. Yes, that something else was love, but to sacrifice the love of your family and friends for a girl that’s going to die? It just seemed really irresponsible of him, and it made me question whether or not their relationship during the majority of the book was actually toxic. Or was it only toxic on Jack’s side because it was like he became addicted to Kate, wanting to do whatever it took to save her?

I hated the hurt that Franny and Jillian went through because of Jack.

I hated that Franny was hurt so many times by his father.

I hated that Kate had to die.

I hated how I could see parts of me in Jack, and I get why people can be frustrated with me. But that’s a personal matter.

I don’t know. I have a lot of unresolved feelings about this book, I guess.

There were so many memorable quotes in here that I didn’t end up writing any of them down. This book was full of passages and one liners that made you go “wow, that’s some sound but cliche advice” and I was kind of okay with it. But then I would question whether a high school senior would really have those kind of thoughts and revelations when it seemed to take him losing almost everything to figure it out. Maybe that is when we finally understand, when we have nothing else to lose.

Yeah, there were a lot of quotes in here that I liked but I was too engrossed in the novel that I didn’t make a not of any of them.

I guess this was a waste of a section, but you know. Late night thoughts. Gotta come out somehow.

Shitty parent and child relationships. Having a dad get out of prison and then not even being there for you for the important parts of your life are just… heartbreaking. It reminds me of my own. It’s not something that I would put on anyone. And then having a friend with parents that treat you like their own without any strings, without having to even force it is just amazing and special and wow. I loved that.

Seeing parts of you in a main character that you don’t end up liking very much is kind of humbling. Seeing them make a good decision after making a series of terrible ones gives you hope that maybe one day you can grow up and do something right for once.

Not getting second, third, fourth chances makes you understand that you have to always take into consideration what your actions do to affect everything around you, not just yourself. Because you won’t always have a chance to correct your mistakes, and sometimes that will be your biggest regret.

Also do you see the look on Medusa’s face? Just leave her alone already. Let her live in peace.

Sorry that was random. I just never realized the emotions on Medusa’s face during this entire scene before. How they make her out to be a monster when people are the ones that keep bothering her. She put herself in solitude for a reason, my gentle friends.

I feel like I’m still in some sort of shock with this book. I didn’t hate it. I don’t know if I loved it. I know I liked it, but I just felt a lot of emotion reading this, even if you couldn’t tell by looking at me. I think I’ve developed a good reading poker face from before.

What would you do if you had to live in a time loop, trying to change the one thing that seems to be set in stone? What kind of decisions would you make? Who would you hurt in the process? Would you do it intentionally? Would you not care because somehow you believe you’re going to get another chance? What would be the true end goal for you? Would you even want to get out of the time loop if it meant seeing the one person you loved more than life itself be alive?

Still so many questions.

Still no answers.

12 thoughts on “Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

    1. I feel like I went through some existential crisis or something by the time I was done with it! It was just a weird experience but either way, I think it would be good to read at least once. Maybe when you have a clear mind, it would be best to read it. I did get frustrated though, and I feel like you would too.

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  1. Oh this is a such a good and honest review. It’s such a weird feeling when you finish a book and you can’t decide exactly how you feel about it. I think you conveyed that feeling so articulately though. I hate the idea of someone dying over and over again – time loops are not my thing either. I do actually own this book – I had no clue what it was about. It was at a thrift store in perfect shape, so I grabbed it lol Even though the themes aren’t something I love – it still kind of intrigues me and I do really like the author. Decisions, decisions lol

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  2. Even though you’re kind of unsure of how you feel about it altogether, this review made me want to read this even more! It’s been saved on my Scribd app for a while but TBH that’s just because of the pretty cover. I had zero idea what the book was about 😅 I can get a little frustrated with movies that have time loops but I’ve never tried it out in a book before so maybe I’ll like it. As always, great review! ♥

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  3. LEELYNN. “Seeing parts of you in a main character that you don’t end up liking very much is kind of humbling. Seeing them make a good decision after making a series of terrible ones gives you hope that maybe one day you can grow up and do something right for once.”
    Oof. That got me so hard. It’s actually something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently with the books I’ve been reading and finding myself hating on some characters but then not feeling like I can say I hate them because I see quite a bit of myself in them, so what does that say about me? I’M RAMBLING but I think you get it. Wow.
    This was a fantastic and honest review. I always find it frustrating when I think I like a book but then I don’t know what to say about it. Is that good or bad? Lol this book turns out to be a lot different to what I expected (didn’t realize time travel was involved) but it still sounds interesting. Will be sure to keep an eye out for it!

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  4. Yeah I agree with some of your thoughts here. It was definitely frustrating at times to read about Jack’s actions, especially when they hurt his friends and family. In general I am not too fond of “love above everything else” especially when he’s only briefly known Kate although his family and friends have been with him for most of his life!!

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