Sweet, swoony, sassy, snarky, and Shakespearian; ALWAYS NEVER YOURS has all of the elements that encompass the perfect summer contemporary!
Megan Harper has never gotten the happily ever after that she’s always wanted as her exes find their real true love after they break up. Having to take on a required acting role before graduation, she hopes to get cast in a small part, but when she’s cast as Juliet in the infamous Shakespeare play, she quickly becomes overwhelmed. Then she meets Owen, a hopeful playwright who will help Megan snag a new man if she helps him write his script. But soon Megan finds herself falling for this new boy who’s unlike any of her past loves and embarking on a new adventure of romance and finding herself.
The thing about Megan Harper is that she isn’t scared to take risks. She’s the girl everyone hates in YA romances, who gets called a “slut” because she dates way too many people. And boy, wasn’t it refreshing to read her story. Her personality was so vivacious and her internal struggles with love and her issues with her family developed her character to no end. I loved how flirty she was and wasn’t scared of others’ opinions about her dating life. I deeply connected to her and was rooting endlessly for happiness throughout the entire novel.
The family dynamics were super complex, as Megan’s family is incredibly torn apart. Always Never Yours takes an overused trope and turns it around flawlessly to create this amazing relationship. Interestingly, it’s not amazing in a loving way; Megan is struggling greatly with the fact that her parents are divorced and might just be leaving her behind with their newfound families. It is amazing because it is raw and real in ways I couldn’t be able to explain properly, and really shows Megan’s emotions about everything going on with her mom and dad.
If you’re not into slow-burn romance, consider anything and everything before picking this up. If I went on and on about how I felt while reading Megan and Owen’s romance, it would consist of a LOT of incoherent blabbering. I swooned, laughed, chuckled, giggled, rolled my eyes, and cried. It was one hell of a rollercoaster ride I wouldn’t mind getting on time and time again. I’m still speechless over how cute they were.
I couldn’t possibly tell you if this is plot-driven or character-driven. I wholeheartedly believe this novel is both. As minimal as some of the friendships were sometimes, they all had a purpose and everyone had a meaningful presence. The little page/screen time they got really makes you get to know their bright and unique personalities. I’m not into Shakespeare, I’ve never been into Shakespeare, and probably never will be. But as someone who hasn’t even read any of his plays, you can notice the heavy influences his work provides and it works greatly. The plot is heavily inspired by Romeo and Juliet, which paths the way for one of the most thrilling plotlines a YA contemporary has ever offered.
Always Never Yours is a co-authored book, so I had my doubts about whether the writing was going to be good and smooth. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. If I hadn’t known this book was by a duo beforehand, I probably would’ve never known. Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka‘s voices mesh so well together, I’m telling you, it left me dumbfounded. They wove their voices so nicely together, it became one, and I can safely say I’m in love.
One of the most pleasant surprises i got form this book was the diversity. The love interest, Owen, is Japanese-American. Anthony, Megan’s best friend, is biracial, having black and Mexican parents, and he’s gay. And there are several other Asian side characters thrown around. It is not diversity I can personally speak for, but some I really appreciate.
With sex-positive characters, heart-aching family dynamics, tons of Shakespeare references, a pizzeria legitimately based on Verona, and a romance to die for, Always Never Yours is a solid debut novel I can’t wait for other people to read. It definitely became one of my favorite books of the year, and quite possibly, of all time.
RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.
But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script.
Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?