I loved, loved, loved Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda to pieces and had such high expectations when starting to read this book. It seemed like a dream team with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera co-writing it and the plot seemed to be right up my ally; two teenage boys meet-cute 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?”. Unfortunately, What If It’s Us didn’t quite meet my high expectations, but still, it was a very cute, fast-paced read, with a lot of enjoyable New York scenery and pop culture and Broadway references.
The story is told from different POV:s, alternating between Ben and Arthur. Normally, I like this set-up, but here I found a bit unnecessary. I think the main reason why this book was a 4 star and not a 5+ star read for me was that 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. 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 loved it without objections. Because, besides these objections, this really is a lovely book.
What If It’s Us is a bit softer and sweeter, more quiet somehow, than most YA books, which I liked. It was about Ben and Arthur and their little part of the world, which was enough. I really, really enjoyed the descriptions of the dates all over New York and the pop culture and fanfiction references. And the representation is 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 also adored the side characters, especially Ben’s friend Dylan and his hilarious, awkward “future-wife”-way of jumping way ahead in a relationship. I think Dylan was my favorite character in the book.
Overall, this was a cute and sweet book that is definitely recommend, even if it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for.
Find out more about the book and the authors here: What If It’s Us
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 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.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Adam Silvera