Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds: A Review

by Anna Fattizzo


Opposite of Always is the perfect novel for any teen who is a sucker for romance. The novel follows the delightful journey of highschool senior Jack King and his relationship with chance encounter college students Kate. Upon meeting Jack and Kate are instantaneously compatible and for once in his life average teen, Jack feels extraordinary. Unfortunately, Kate suddenly dies just as the relationship is picking up steam. Unable to face reality Jack finds himself in a never-ending time travel loop in which he attempts to halt her untimely death. However when Jack arouses suspicion and more is put at risk then just Kate’s life he faces an ethical dilemma: How much are you willing to lose to change the past?


One of the most attractive features of the novel is the likable characters. Jack’s relationship with his best friends Jillian and Franny provides the right amount of comedy and heart without being too corny. From the very moment, Kate yells at Jack for blocking the stairs the reader falls in love with her. The zany cereal obsession and undeniable chemistry cause you to root for Jack and Kate in each timeline despite the inevitable reality of her death. One of the reasons the novel is so successful is because of Jack providing a sensible character core. Many readers might find his nerves surrounding his first dating experience relatable and feel for the inability to control the uncontrollable things in life. 


The novel also had strong subtle details that made the story work as a whole. One of the most well-done subtleties that the author included was about Kate’s struggle with sickle cell anemia. That detail was a clever way to raise a nugget of awareness that the disease disproportionately affects the black community. Another thing worth noting about the novel was how the time travel didn’t feel overly redundant. Typically whenever reading a time travel book or seeing a movie it is predictable and easy to discern that an overall point will be made about how time travel messes with unintended things. While this novel did address that feature, it didn’t seem as cliche considering the concept of the book focused on teenagers. The cliche was utilized to make a good point about how teenagers feel that everything is perpetually heightened and it attempts to teach that just some things including tragedy are out of our control. 


Overall the novel was an enjoyable romance read. The novel did a commendable job capturing the teenage experience. The novel cleverly pinpointed how centralized teens feel they are in relation to the world. Opposite of Always is a great recommendation for anyone who simply loves a good romance or whats to disappear to perfect reality.  


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