The young adult fiction market is so tremendously big now, so it does mean it can be quite difficult to find a book that stands out from the rest.
Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid is one of these stories which tells the tale of two best friends who adamantly follow their “Never List” of everything they vowed never to do so that they don’t end up becoming like all the other cliche high school kids.
When they decide to break these rules one by one, however, they suddenly start realizing that they may have missed many opportunities of their youth, and maybe even the chance to become more than friends.
If you enjoy the fun and unique take Adi Alsaid puts on the young fiction romance genre in Never Always Sometimes, the good news is many authors have written books with similar themes and writing styles for you to get stuck into, whether they are also popular authors in the genre such as Sandy Hall, or those who lean into other areas of fiction such as Martin Wilson, there’s no shortage of similar gripping stories to choose from.
Themes In Never Always Sometimes
Best friends Dave and Julia created and adamantly followed their Never List in order to avoid becoming like everyone else in their school, and becoming cliches just like them, but as they break these rules, they quickly realize that they actually enjoy doing a lot of these things, despite how niche or weird they might be.
For example, when Dave breaks rule #7, “never dye your hair a color of the rainbow”, and turns his hair bright green, he soon starts to feel comfortable with his new appearance, and as more rules are broken, the two start to understand that being your own person is much more important than trying to seem “normal” or “original”.
Friendship And Romance
While rule #10 states “never date your best friend”, when Julia and Dave start breaking each rule including this one, they find that all this time, their feelings for one another were much stronger than they were originally letting on, with them both realizing how much they mean to each other, giving the reader an insight into how a close-friendship can bloom into something more over time.
Throughout the book, Dave and Julia also tend to look down on other students because they are considered cliche, which is another theme of the book as they come to learn that judging people this way will only limit their social skills, which as we all know, are very important in high school.
While the book is fairly upbeat and humorous, as the story goes on and Dave and Julia begin to look back on the time they may have wasted trying to be different, they also regret how strongly they believed in their rules which not only caused them to miss many fun opportunities, but that also prevented Dave from expressing his true feelings to Julia since he has been in love with her through all of high school.
This theme also makes the book very relatable to all ages, whether you’ve just finished high school, or you’re an adult looking back at your time there and thinking about the opportunities you may have missed.
Books Like Never Always Sometimes
Trying to understand who you are as a teenager is hard, especially with all the pressures of school, parents, jobs, and a potential love life swirling around your head 24/7, and while this idea of discovering what you enjoy doing as a person is very prevalent in Never Always Sometimes.
It is also the main focus in Signs Points To Yes when awkward fangirl Jane, in the hopes to get away from an internship, takes up a babysitting job that just so happens to put her in close proximity to Teo, a similarly awkward but very charming lifeguard with his own personal problems.
As the two grow closer and a romance begins to bloom, we are thrust into a cute and relatable story about moving out of your comfort zone to not only find new friends and a potential partner but also to learn more about yourself and where you want your life to be going in the process in this “adorkable romance”.
- Great balance of humor, romance, and emotionally intense scenes
- Very well-rounded characters are very relatable
- Extremely satisfying character arcs
- Captures the awkwardness of teenage romance perfectly
- The pacing of the story is quite slow and can sometimes seem aimless
Themes: Stress of teenage life, individuality, responsibility, commitment
If you like the themes of teenage romance and individual expression that are so noticeable in Never Always Sometimes, but you wished Adi Alsaid went a little deeper and maybe took a more serious approach to these ideas, you need to read What They Always Tell Us which follows two brothers, James and Alex, who couldn’t be any more different.
While James is the popular high school senior who is a top athlete and is always surrounded by friends, Henry is a little quieter and more reserved, but also a lot more generous and compassionate than his often stubborn older brother.
While both brothers often remain separate and don’t talk to each other much, they eventually both befriend Henry, a 10-year-old who lives across the street which forces the brothers to come together and learn more about themselves by putting their past mistakes behind them, or at least, as much as they are willing to forget.
What They Always Tell Us puts a much more grounded and intense spin on the themes of individual expression and companionship that are focused on in Never Always Sometimes, making for a gripping novel about loneliness, acceptance, individual expression, and living life to the fullest while you’re still young.
- An incredibly emotional coming-of-age story full of plot twists and unexpected turns (If you liked this, check out Books Like Let’s Get Lost)
- Very satisfying ending
- Both brothers have plenty of time to develop
- Fantastic insight into teenage loneliness and anxiety
- The last quarter of this YA book can feel unnecessary and a lot like filler
Themes: Isolation, maturity, family bonds, individuality
Romance plays such an important part in making a young adult story interesting, memorable, and relatable, and if the blooming romance between Dave and Julia in Never Always Sometimes is what glued you to each page, When We Collided is a story that centers around teenage love and all the messiness and complications that come with it.
The main character Vivi is at a time of her life when she is struggling to keep up with school, please her parents, make regular plans to see her friends and control her bipolar disorder which makes her feel like an outcast.
As she meets Jonah, a young and charismatic boy who is just as troubled as Vivi is, the two begin a romantic relationship that Emery Lord manages to portray as exciting and hopeful, but also risky and intimidating.
If you’re after a book that replicates that awkward and uncertain side of teenage romance that drives the story forward, ‘Never Always Sometimes When We Collided’ takes a slightly more serious and in-depth look at how these relationships blossom, and if a person can fall in love when they feel like they’re already falling apart.
- The incredibly compelling, sympathetic, and relatable main character and love interest
- Honest and respectful depiction of mental illness
- Quirky and interesting side characters
- Great comparisons between teenage and adult romantic relationships
- Romance begins very quickly and with not much buildup beforehand
Themes: Mental illness, anxiety, being an outcast, teenage romance
If you loved Adi Alsaid’s unique take on the young adult romance novel in his bestselling book Never Always Sometimes, be sure to also try out a few of these exciting young adult fiction books that all share many similar themes, but that are still unique in their ways whether it’s by taking a more serious and grounded approach to the story and characters, or by honing in on ideas of individual expression or youthful romance, there are plenty of similar books that are just as hard to put down once you start reading.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Never Rarely Sometimes Always?
While many people have mistakenly presumed that this is the highly-anticipated sequel to Never Always Sometimes, despite the similarities in name, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is an entirely different story and is a 2020 drama film written and directed by Eliza Hittman.
Are There Any Plans For A Sequel To Never Always Sometimes?
Adi Alsaid has stated in interviews that he prefers writing standalone stories, and since Never Always Sometimes wrapped up all of its loose ends quite nicely by the final page, a sequel seems very unlikely.
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