Title: Like Never and Always
Author: Ann Aguirre
Released: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Kindle eBook
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 (of 64 ratings)
On a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.
Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s.
Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Tor/Forge and Netgalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. The copy I am reviewing is an Uncorrected Digital Galley.
If you follow my reviews, you’ll know I’m not big on romance. Do I hate love? No. But I find that too many YA books (which I adore and read almost exclusively) rush couples to the point that readers end up with insta-love, cliché meet cutes, and the corniest break-up/makeup moments. My eyes are basically rolling all over the floor. Obviously this isn’t the end of the world; it’s YA, and sooooo many young adults (no shame to it!) adore the fluff. My lovely co-blogger Mandy loves the fluff!! But I’m just like, “Ew. No. What is this? Stop.” What I’m saying is: Give me a solid relationship or GIVE ME DEATH.
You can imagine my curiosity going into a book that pitched not one but two romances (ya know, a love triangle, sure to be rife with drama). Will I abhor? Or will I adore? To put you out of your misery now, I’ll tell you: I was on the edge my seat, wide-eyed, drooling, because the love interest (like, the one the main character chooses at the end) is SWOON WORTHY. THE MAN OF MY DREAMS PEOPLE. I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY. (In as vague of a way as I can because dang I can’t spoil the love triangle for you!) He is respectful, kind, aware of the main character’s needs WITHOUT TELLING HER what she wants (think Twilight, where Edward is like, Yes, Bella, you are cold now, go put on a sweater), hard-working, and selfless. I’m sobbing just thinking about it. GET ME A MAN LIKE THIS.
As for the other love interest, was he terrible? Um, no. I totally got why he was a valid options for the main character, and then I understood why she didn’t choose him. It wasn’t a simple case of “Option A is better” but also “Option B doesn’t need me/isn’t good with me.” Other love interest is fully developed, a viable option, and um, they totes had chemistry too — but Ann Aguirre did not exploit that chemistry and throw in a bunch of “will they/won’t they” for shits and giggles. Aguirre made clear from pretty early in the book who our MC, Liv, would be choosing. (Ugh, I can’t stand when the MC just wobbles back and forth between guys. Like, if you seriously can’t choose, then maybe the answer is neither? And it’s all just lust? But that’s a problem for another day, because NONE of that hot mess was here!)
Clearly romance was a strong aspect of the book, but Like Never and Always included aspects of mystery and thriller (and some maybe paranormal). I did snoop some reviews on Goodreads, which I actually generally refuse to do before my own reviews. This is so you get 100% my own thoughts untainted by what others think. BUT I saw on Goodreads some reviewers disliked the book because they felt the genre was too unclear. IMHO: This is first a romance, second a mystery, and the softest hint of paranormal. Aguirre is VERY clear on what direction she wants to take with her book, so not once are you like, “Wait, what happened to the romance aspect? Why are we suddenly focusing on paranormal?” I only include paranormal because … duh, Liv wakes up and she’s in Morgan’s body. That’s some out of this world business. But Liv does her best to explain this (and other creepy events) away with science (as she is a massive science lover), so paranormal stuff? Not very strong in this book. It felt very grounded and realistic, despite a body swap kicking things off.
Okay. Mystery element. This gave the book its plot. I loved how some of the mystery turned out to be a complete red herring, and some parts Liv needs to accept will never truly be solved/she has to keep “her little secret.” Honestly, this book had me up until 3 AM on a WORK DAY because I needed to know everything as soon as possible. Now I need everything Ann Aguirre ASAP.
One little disclaimer/spoiler/warning for readers who are sensitive to sex scenes in books, there is a little something that happens between Liv and one of the love interests near the end of the book (no page numbers and I’m afraid I don’t pay attention to the Kindle percentage count!) It’s faaar from explicit but still there, so if you’re like, NOT FOR ME, then well, now you know. It actually surprised me, since I did not see the book going there, but like I said, if you are not aware of these things from experience/learning, then you might not even know what just happened, it’s that subtly described.
I could ramble about love for this book forever. The characters were so well-developed. Everyone was aware of their flaws, their strengths and weaknesses. People could develop throughout the book. I feel blessed to have read this, not even kidding. Please excuse me while I read it again now?
Five crowns because I want to read it again immediately and this never happens with me. Also Aguirre NAILED it with a respectful and caring boyfriend which we need more of in books (like, please, stop with giving MCs BFs/GFs who disrespect them and then readers are all SWOON. NO SWOON!) I also want to buy an actual copy to own and hold and lovingly embrace.
Who is your book crush and what makes him/her an ideal boyfriend/girlfriend? What do you look for in the ideal book ship? Am I too intense about this book? Let’s discuss!