Whenever I even try to think about this book, my mind goes in about a million different directions; it would take a person greater than I to pull everything together and write a decent review. However, I'm am right now attempting to put into words my crazy thoughts about this crazy book, so bear with me. I thought about putting this into bulleted points to make it more intelligible, but this time I'm going to just let myself rant with the flow.
I wasn't in a YA Contemporary Romance mood when I started reading this and after reading several negative comments about the novel, I didn't want anything to do with it. I was supremely annoyed by a large portion of this book, not least because the two main characters wouldn't stop getting on my nerves. Then there was the slightly messed up storyline and drama and unnecessary pining and ultimately, this book was a hot mess. I'm surprised I ended up liking it more than Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca - both these books had some very melodramatic characters and a tone that's slightly depressing but slightly not (if that makes sense).
Since we're talking about characters, let me take the moment to run on about how ridiculous these sad, pining characters were. I realized when I was going into the story that the idea of a Nevers list and best friends longing for each other was a cliché idea, but never did it occur to me that in this case, cliché could be a bad thing. Unfortunately, the cliché went even beyond the characters. For one, Dave was pining over Julia from the very beginning. He was weirdly obsessed with his best friend, and sometimes it felt like he didn't know anyone but Julia. He went along with every crazy thing she did, went along with her ideas, and secluded himself with her in his own private, little world. And then of course there was Julia, who dated other people and in my opinion, took Dave for granted. What's worse? Once Dave started seeing Gretchen and finally found love that wasn't unrequited, boom, Julia realizes that's she's in love with her friend, and has been forever. That right about killed me, and I was pretty close to DNFing the book. I'm glad I didn't though because the ending turned out to be not what I had expected, but what I had wished for.
The end did this book credit, and I would have disliked it so much more if it had happened any other way. The entire time I was reading this book I was worried that people I didn't want to end up together would end up together (Dave had happily situated himself in a love triangle and his only stress was having to choose a girl). I felt bad for Dave at the beginning but eventually I started to be become really irritated - he was in love with both Gretchen and Julia at the same time. When he was with one, he thought of the other, and it wasn't cool. And then there was Julia throwing herself at Dave even though he had a girlfriend and just...no. Like I said, if this book had ended any other way I would have felt nothing but hatred. Yes, hatred.
As interesting of an experience as this book was for me, I can't really see myself recommending this to anyone. The abundance of teenage drama, aggravating characters, and poor decision-making skills mean this book will always be a dark memory. In terms of writing and character development, the book was great. I mean, it takes skill to write characters that vexing. It's too bad that the storyline represented everything I've been finding wrong with teen romance novels lately. I'm just sad that my first Adi Alsaid book was such a letdown, especially considering I've heard so many good things about his last book.
Book Synopsis: Never date your best friend
Always be original
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
Source: A copy was received from the publisher for review.