Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson (2019) Review

 Soap Opera in thriller form

Why I picked up the book:

Joshilyn Jackson introduces to this quiet and friendly neighbourhood where mummies get together for playdates and a book club run by Charlotte. Amy is at a great place in her life – she is happily married, has recently given birth to a beautiful son, and simply adores her stepdaughter.

The peace is over when Angelica Roux moves into the neighbourhood and decides it will be fun to turn everyone’s life upside down by attending the book club meeting with the intention to get the women drunk and stir the pot with a game of never have I ever.

The game is not done that night, though; Roux is determined to make Amy, her actual target, play the game with dangerous consequences.
Roux didn’t expect to find a worthy rival in Amy, and the way they go at each other is amazingly clever and absolutely witty and funny! A fast read for sure!

The book through my criteria lens:

I was thoroughly entertained. Never Have I Ever is thrilling and addicting. It honestly felt like I was reading a soap opera set in suburbia. I loved the tension between the main characters, and my guilty pleasure-ometer stayed on high throughout the whole book. Some of the situations were a bit extra, but this added to my entertainment. It was tough to put down this book.

I felt that one of the plot twists came out of nowhere, though, and it wasn’t my favourite thing to read. (spoilers in the last session). I can’t help but think that the book would have been better without it. Overall, it is a solid debut into thrillers…

My personal feelings:

I typically love a game of cat and mouse in a book. You know what’s even better? A game of cat and cat. I love how Jackson spun one of my favourite tropes into something even better! The tension between Amy and Roux leaped through the page as entertainment in its purest form.

Funnily this book reminded me of a phase I went through as a teen. Hope you don’t think I am crazy, but here it goes: during one summer in my late teens, I couldn’t sleep until at least one person in my house had woken up – why you ask? Well… I have always read many mysteries, most of them Golden Age, and at the time, I was upset at how gruesome real-life murders were and how stupid people were as they always got caught.

So I went on a mental tangent of picturing the perfect murder. I like to think I have a good moral compass and honestly can’t hurt a fly. Obviously, I didn’t have the urge to act on it. Let’s make it clear, but one beautiful day a horrifying thought popped in my mind – WHAT IF someone had the same ideas I had, but no regard for life and rules? My room was the first in the house, so I didn’t want to be the first to die. If people were up, I felt my best chance of escape was to count on them to save me. It was months before I stopped being afraid.

You are probably asking yourself what the heck my personal story has to do with my reading experience. The best way I can explain it is that it felt that Amy and Roux were two sides of the same coin. The same personality, but one chose the moral path, and the other didn’t. It’s like Roux would be that person I was afraid of but never met. Hope it makes sense.

They were both fantastic characters and likable. I really, really wanted to hate Roux, but I couldn’t. Her magnetism was undeniable. At the same time, I was cheering for Amy to push it as far as she could, even if it meant making some questionable choices!

**Minor/Major Spoilers below** (hover mouse to read)

**Major Spoilers below** (click on the arrow)
    This book has some trigger warnings for eating disorders and child sexual abuse. These are the only problems I had with Never Have I Ever. I don’t enjoy trigger subjects being used as plot devices for shock value, and that’s how it read. In my opinion, the novel would have been better without these triggers.

This was a fast-paced, page-turner! It was a bit campy, but it read as the author went for this vibe. Hope I am not wrong, but to me, Never Have I Ever read like a witty and funny over-the-top thriller. I can’t wait to read more books by Joshilyn Jackson. Hope they are all this batshit crazy!

Enjoyability     10

Characters       8

Ambience        8

Fairness          8

Plot                  8

Execution        8

My total rating: 4.16

BOOK SNAPSHOT:

Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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