Author: Adi Alsaid
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen and Edelweiss for this ARC!
This was an odd book for me. I had a lot of trouble getting into it and even at the midway point this book was only a 2-3 star book. But then towards the end it got much better and I ended up giving it four stars because the ending didn’t go as I had expected it and I gave it major points for that.
This is a story about two best friends and their quest to not conform. These days it’s so hard to not fit into some type of mold though. Julia and Dave are both aloof, cool, and walk down a different path than most of the kids at their school. They think high school is a cliche and that 99% of the kids at their school are cliches. I feel like a lot of this comes from Julia’s and her issues with her mother. Julia’s mother is a “free spirit”, she roams the world, hopping from country to country, doing whatever she wants. She sadly doesn’t spend that much time with her daughter, having left her in the care of her father and his partner, but Julia idolizes her mother’s alternative lifestyle. And I think that a lot of the reason why Julia thinks the way she does is because of that.
Dave is Julia’s best friend, but he is also in love with her. They spend all of their time together and before starting high school they make a list of ‘Nevers’; basically things they consider to be high school cliches that they will never do. Then at the end of their senior year they are bored out of their minds and find the list. Julia thinks it’s a great idea to actually do the Never list as a way to keep themselves amused until graduation.
So as they start to do the Nevers, go to parties, run for homecoming court, host a kegger, they start to realize that maybe there’s more to their classmates than meets the eye. Julia takes much longer to see it, but Dave discovers that he’s actually a pretty fun guy and that people like him. He starts to fall for a cute girl and when he finally starts to pull away from Julia shit hits the fan.
I really liked the dynamics between Dave and everyone. I understood his friendship and relationship with Julia because I was there myself in high school. I also enjoyed watching him get to know other people and realize that he’d put blinders on himself. I also enjoyed how Julia struggled with her own realizations about others, herself, and her mother. There were a lot of great moments between Dave and Julia but also between Julia and Dave’s brother, and Dave and basically anyone else he interacted with.
The writing in this is pretty solid, if not a little dry at times, but then there are a TON of hilarious lines and I found myself chuckling and smiling at times. As I said, I struggled to get into this, but as it went on it really grew on me and by the end I was smiling.