What If It’s Us was one of my most anticipated releases this year. The collaboration between two of the greatest YA authors today and the plot raised my expectations sky high. Unfortunately though, I was quite disappointed.
It wasn’t that it wasn’t good. It was. It was very cute, fast-paced read, with a lot of enjoyable New York scenery and pop culture and Broadway references, in a story about two teenage boys meeting at the post office in NYC and their efforts of finding each other again because maybe “life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is?”. It was just that it could have been so much better! Especially the characters.
The story was told from different POV:s, alternating between Ben and Arthur. Normally, I like this set-up, but here I found a bit unnecessary, and unfortunately I didn’t fully connect with the characters. Arthur was a bit over the top and Ben was always talking himself and Arthur down and reflecting on how Arthur was too short and not being chill, which after a while got a bit annoying. I also missed a bit of chemistry between them too; it wasn’t Broadway magic between them, which I had hoped for.
On the other hand, I really adored some of the side-characters. Especially Ben’s friend Dylan and his hilarious, awkward “future-wife”-way of jumping way ahead in a relationship. Jessie seemed to be a really good friend, and Samantha was an adorable character with a big heart.
I also really liked that the story was a bit softer and sweeter, more quiet somehow, than most YA books. It was about Ben and Arthur and their little part of the world, which was enough. And the representation was great, the main characters are a gay Puerto Rican and a gay Jewish with ADHD who is obsessed with the musical Hamilton, yay to that! And even though I would have liked some more swoon-worthy magic between Ben and Arthur, the authors did a great job in describing the insecurity you feel about doing things for the first time (first date, first kiss etc.) in such a realistic and adorable way that it made your heart ache.
“I am actually dead. There’s no other way to explain it. I’m sitting in fucking Herald Square, holding hands with the cutest boy I’ve ever met, and I’m dead.”
I really, really enjoyed the descriptions of the dates all over New York and the pop culture and fanfiction references.
But, besides my problems with the main characters, I also have to say that I found the ending thoroughly dissatisfying. I just really, really wanted to love this so much more than I did. But that’s got more to do with my extremely high expectations than the book, and if I hadn’t read anything by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera before, I’m sure I would have thought that it was a really cute and sweet YA story.
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They Both Die at the End is a beautiful, gripping, sad and at the same time hopeful, book. This is a heartbreaking story in the best possible way. It’s one of those books that will stay with you and make you think about your own choices and the way you live your own life.
I was immediately intrigued by the title the first time I heard about this book. Was the title a spoiler by the author or would there be an unexpected twist? Obviously I won’t tell you as it would be a spoiler on my behalf, but don’t let the title and whatever happened in the book fool you. This is not a book about death, but about life; about living your life to the fullest, because it could be over any second.
It’s also a beautiful story about two strangers who meet and fall in love under the strangest circumstances and about becoming the person you want to be without fear and the opinion of others holding you back.
I loved the two main characters, Mateo and Rufus, so much! When we meet them, they are both about to receive a call from a company called Death-Cast, who can predict when people will die and calls them up on their last day letting them know that they have less than 24 hours to live. Via an app called Last Friend they find each other and end up spending the day together.
Despite their differences - Mateo is quiet, introverted and very anxious, and Rufus has a bad boy appearance, living in foster care, with a criminal history, but also as will soon be evident, with a heart of gold - they soon take to each other. Instead of a sad, miserable day, they find love and the courage to change. Mateo has more or less stayed hiding at home due to his anxiety, but with Rufus he gains confidence to conquer his fears and take on the world. Rufus on the other hand has lived life almost too much, acting out as a way of trying to silence the guilt, grief and loss from previous happenings in his life.
Even though the story is very sad and I often had tears in my eyes, this book also gave me so much hope and feelings of love and gratefulness. It was such a beautiful thing that even on the worst day of your life, you can meet the one person that will change you and give you the courage to accept who you are.
I also loved the way the boys’ relationships with their families and friends are described. Especially Rufus, you can really feel how much his friends meant to him and how he would sacrifice his life for them if he could.
In the middle the book dragged a little. Even though the story is only about one day, the book is more of a slow read than a fast forward one, with perhaps a little too much descriptions of the things the boys did without any real purpose, like walking around town, eating food and singing karaoke. There are also this random chapters introducing new characters, which at first annoyed me slightly, but then really liked. It worked very well as a way of emphasizing that no person and no life lived is without importance. In total, there are around ten additional persons to Mateo and Rufus that gets a chapter each, or more, telling their story of living or dying on that same day. This gives the story extra depth and in the end, it was also clear that they more or less were connected to the larger part of the story.
Overall, I really loved this book and would recommend it to absolutely everyone, regardless if you like contemporary, YA or sad readings or not! This is truly a book that anyone will be affected by and start to rethink one’s own life after reading.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez