contemporary like it never happened review romance young adult
Like It Never Happened Review9:43 PM
Author: Emily Adrian Publishing Date: June 2nd, 2015 Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult Stereotypes, sexuality, and dest...
Publishing Date: June 2nd, 2015
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.
Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.
(there's some swearing in this review)
Readers be warned: I was expecting this to be a fun contemporary read about romance and acting, but it turned out to be a constant string of "no no no no no no" and anxiety. This story will attack your emotions, and not necessarily in a good way. Half of the emotions I got from this book were from screaming at the characters to use their brains and not do the stupid things.
Now, on to god things. The first few lines of the book were these, "It wasn't like he begged me to sit shotgun in his ancient station wagon. Mr. McFadden only offered me a ride home because I happened to be backstage looking for a taxidermied puffin." A beginning like that gave me hopes for this book. I thought it was delightfully odd at first, and I couldn't wait to dive in! The author would drop hints throughout the first few chapters of an estranged sister, a simmering romance, and future repercussions. I was excited for this story.
Very quickly, one of my favorite characters was established. Liane. If I was in Rebecca's place, I would hate Liane for most of the book. Liane and Charlie aren't dating, but it's like they are. Charlie belongs to Liane, not because she is possessive, but because she is such a big part of his life since childhood. They have history. They are best friends. But Liane is more than Charlie's best friend. She doesn't take shit from anyone, and she can discern right from wrong. I was so happy with where the author took Liane. Also, she's like six feet tall and awesome.
And then the whole story with Tess! The author keeps this Pre-Essential-Five friendship between Tess and Rebecca a secret for most of the book. Something happened between them the summer before they became a theater click. Something awful. There's all this buildup, and then when the true story comes out, it isn't at all what I was expecting, and I loved it.
My absolute favorite part of the story was Mary. She was just intriguing. I wanted to know more of her story. I want a book about her past all the way to now. She is Rebecca's older sister by ten years, and is just so wild, and the word "crazy" is tossed around her. She's the troubled child who runs away from home and causes her parents such grief. Then she comes back looking like Classic Barbie and she's a good girl with a cigarette. I want to read about her transition. Her troubles. Her and her friend Nadine. PLEASE GIVE ME THAT! Another thing that interested me in Mary is that she's the older sister by a lot of years. I am 12 years older than my baby sister, and reading about Mary and Rebecca made me wonder about me and my baby sister. How will she remember me? When I'm moved out and living my own life, when she's a teenager, what will she think about me?
Extra Awesome Stuff (quotes and more):
-"You have to lift your butt up."
-"nobody performs an earnest version of Happy Birthday without feeling like an idiot."
-On donuts: "Glazed means marry me, but powdered is more join my cult."
-"I've always depended on the kindness of strangers"
-Magic: The Gathering is briefly mentioned in the book and I'm so incredibly nerdtastically happy that I understood what the game was. I made friends with a lot of geeks in college and they tried to turn me. Still can't play the game. Still don't get why certain cards are more exciting than others. BUT I KNOW WHAT IT'S CALLED! I get points, okay?
-Rebecca's parents are involved in her life. It's annoying and I can't stand her mom, but I'm very happy they were included and important for the plot.
While some of the relationships between characters, and backstory were interesting, I found most of the book frustrating. Especially Rebecca's interest in Charlie, Charlie in general, and the obsession with Mr. McFadden. Not to mention there were some fundamental problems with the book too. Rebecca felt underdeveloped, just a narrator and not a person telling her own story. I couldn't connect to her. And then there was about 100 pages of backstory and an unnecessary whole summer camp thing, with sex obsessed 12 year olds, that could have been cut entirely and gotten the same intentions across in two paragraphs max. Charlie randomly suggests they all have a pact to not date each other. The timing of it all felt to forced and misplaced. Rebecca's mom is ridiculous, and not in a cute way. She practically throws her daughter at Charlie. Tim has like 5 minutes of screen time. He was just a name and sadly unnecessary. I expected more out of this book, and I feel like rioting!
Mr. McFadden. Okay this guy is just confusing. When I first read about him, I imagined a middle aged man. Then I read he was actually 27. So my misconception about his image was my bad. I reevaluated who I saw him as, and came up with James McAvoy. So I pictured McAvoy as their teacher, that is until he started acting strange, awkward, stand offish, and not looking Rebecca in the eye. And some times he'd be grumpy. And then he'd avoid students. It was creepy. I got serious pedo vibes from McFadden. Even though he was 27 and described as passably attractive, I kept reverting by to my original image of him. He is described as a cute young thespian teacher, but acted like a sweaty middle aged slightly balding man like this guy-
I have a lot of thoughts on Charlie Lamb as well. It's hard to not spoil the book. He is so tied into the plot, and I don't want to ruin it for you, so I'll keep my opinion on Charlie brief. Charlie's first line is "Fuck yes". He is described as attractive and outgoing and this good guy who works hard, who is academically responsible and outstanding, and just a huge super attractive superstar. Which he IS. Your first impression of him might be to drool and be geared up to add him to your book boyfriend list. But let me tell you what folks! As you will soon discover, he is Charlie "Fuck NO" Lamb. I didn't like him. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't find it in myself to even be mildly attracted to him. Sure he was handsome, but he was such a egotistical self centered piece of poo poo. It wasn't hard to see. Why was Rebecca so into him??
Because a book has a 2 star rating, doesn't mean you shouldn't give it your time. I will read more from this author, and I encourage others to read her books too. At the very heart of it all, this was a fine read, just don't go into it with big expectations.