Rummanah Aasi
  Then and Always is a book that a quick read that easily sucks you in with its unique premise and mystery. I didn't have any expectations for the book and had it on my to be read pile for quite sometime but I don't really remember why I had placed it there. I knew I had to suspend some disbelief given the blurb on the back of the book. Overall I was enjoying the story until the abrupt ending that made me wish I could take back the hours I spent on reading the book.

Description: Rachel’s life is perfect. A handsome boyfriend, great friends and the prospect of starting at university in a few weeks means she’s never been happier. But in a single heartbeat her world falls apart forever.

Five years later, Rachel is still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that changed everything. Returning to her hometown for the first time in years, she finds herself consumed by thoughts of the life that could have been. But when a sudden fall lands her in hospital, Rachel awakes to discover that the life she had dreamed about just might be real after all.

Unable to trust her own memories, Rachel begins to be drawn further into this new world where the man she lost is alive and well but where she is engaged to be married to someone else. 

Review:   Then and Always is another book that fits into the "awesome premise but failed in the execution"  category. The story reminded me a bit of the movies P.S. I Love You and The Vow. Rachel, along with her boyfriend and friends, are having one last get together before they all split up to go their own ways at uni. Rachel has been feeling a bit distant towards her boyfriend, who she has some suspicions of his unfaithfulness, and has grown romantic feelings for her best friend Jimmy. Before Rachel could take action in her love life, a car barrels through the restaurant severely injuring her and killing Jimmy instantly. Five years later Rachel still bares the guilt of Jimmy's death and is plagued with "what if" questions circling her mind. She even visits Jimmy's grave to mourn, but then has a nasty fall and hits her head. When Rachel wakes she is taken to an alternative world where Jimmy is alive and is given a second chance in living her life, except Rachel knows that something is wrong and is determined to find out what happened to her.
  I have several issues with Then and Always. The writing is heavily filled with telling rather than showing. We are told how close Rachel and her friends are, but we don't witness their interactions. Similarly, we are told that Jimmy has grown feelings for Rachel, but we never feel it which makes their relationship and our yearning for them to be a couple wane. There is also hardly any character development for any of the characters. What we know of them are either told by their physical descriptions or their stock stereotypes of a rich and aloof boyfriend, a mean girl, and a best friend. As you all know from my blog, I'm a very much character-driven novel reader and this aspect of the book fell very flat to me. I would have overlooked this part if the mystery behind the 'alternative life' would have been strongly constructed.
  In the alternative version of Rachel's life, she is able to her and see things others around her can not. She still remembers details of her 'previous' life like names of her neighbors in the building she lived in or the fact that the security guard's wife at her job is sick with cancer. Atkins doesn't give us any hint as to why these incidents happen or why she lets her heroine have these flashes of the past. And just when we are finally about to get some answers the ends with this huge twist that leaves us asking more questions. This is one of the rare times when I wanted to throw the book across the room because I was so frustrated, felt cheated, and completely let down.    

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and a fade to black sex scene. Recommended for teens and up.

If you like this book try: Watch Over Me by Daniela Sacerdoti, The State We're In by Adele Parks, Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella, and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
4 Responses
  1. It sounds like a good premise, but obviously it lacked something. I would be curious about the altnernate reality, but if the characters are fleshed out, I know I won't connect and so I will have to pass.

  2. The premise actually reminds me of Pivot Point by Kasie West a little bit, which was a cute little book. But the execution in this one doesn't sound impressive at all. I haven't read P.S. I Love You or The Vow nor have I felt any desire to, but I'd sooner read those two titles than this one. I'm sorry you wasted your time.

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Sorry this didn't pan out for you, it does sound like it had promise but was just badly executed. I hope your next read is a better one. :D

  4. Stereotypical characters and an alternate version of the MC's life where things don't make sense? Yeah, I'll be passing on this one. Thanks for the review though, Rummanah!

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