Published by Penguin Australia on January 22, 2015
Genres: Romance, New Adult, Mystery
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What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time? Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago.
Except this girl isn't Nicole.
She looks exactly like Cal's shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated and falling hard.
But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she's hiding, the less he wants to know.
When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.
So, if you’re thinking that What If is a book filled with plot twists and holy-shit-did-that-really-happen moments at the end of every chapter, I’m sorry to say that you’ll be disappointed. This is not that kind of book. Sure, there was a big obvious mystery to be solved throughout the book, but the focal plot of the story at the end of the day was a good ol’ love story.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my romance but nothing about it really clicked with me, emotionally or otherwise. What If is narrated by Cal: a guy who attends college and one day runs into a girl called Nyelle Preston. The problem? She bears an uncanny resemblance to his childhood friend, Nicole Bentley.
“As my eyes slide shut, I’m thinking about second chances, knowing that the one I wished for tonight is lying next to me.“
But – enter obligatory suspenseful music – is it really her?
And here, folks, lies the mystery Cal will spend the next three hundred pages agonizing over in the most excruciatingly vague manner ever known to humankind.
What If is marketed as a New Adult book but I’m not gonna lie, I was surprised by the lack of sex in it. I know it sounds as if I’m generalising, but a lot of NA books I’ve read so far tend to be on the raunchy side of things where a couple will wake up sporting more often than not, a ridiculous amount of sex hair. What If, on the other hand, was much more focused on the slow burn side of things.
And boy, what a slow burn it was.
“This isn’t where she belongs. I know that. But then…where does she belong? As much as I want that answer to be ‘with me’, I know it’s not the reality.”
I didn’t dislike this book, per se, since the mystery over whether Nyelle was really Nicole and if it was, what led her to changing her entire identity kept me flipping the pages, but a lot of things bothered me. Like how Cal had magically gotten so good looking since high school because he exchanged his glasses for contacts, and how it wasn’t until two thirds into the book until he was willing to ask Nyelle whether she was really Nicole or if he was just having an extreme case of mistaken identity he could’ve solved several chapters earlier.
I admit that the final reveal of who Nyelle was and whether or not she was Nicole had a twist I didn’t see coming, but the fact that it was unveiled and tied into a neat little bow so quickly was incredibly frustrating. I wish the plot moved quicker and Cal spent a little less time pining and more time trying to solve the mystery that was Nyelle Preston. It really would’ve saved us a lot of chapters. But I guess that’s just senseless wishing from me.
What if, you know?
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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[…] dream girl and geeky obsessive guy in Paper Towns. Kristy wasn’t the biggest fan of the NA What If by Rebecca Donovan I wanted to hear more about the Chosen Ones in my review of The Rest of Us Just Live Here My latest […]
I might be the only person on the planet but I really didn't get the hype around Reason to Breath so I wasn't sure I wanted to pick up What If. After your review I'm completely sure I won't. I feel like this is one of those cases where the synopsis makes the book sound different/more than it really is.
Great review. 🙂
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I’ve never read Reason to Breathe but What If was a pretty sub par introductory book to Rebecca Donovan for me. I’ve heard a lot of hype around the author though so hopefully it’s just a one off haha. Thank you!
Ha! Sounds like an intriguing concept – the idea behind it really makes me want to read it. But it's sad that the book didn't live up to it's interesting premise. Sounds like it just plain got a little dull.
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The premise was definitely what drew me in as well, I wish it was just executed better because it really dragged near the end.
There's nothing worse than a rushed ending. *grumbles* Oy…this book was on my radar but now, I will remain on the fence. But as always…fantastic review! 😉
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Rushed endings are the absolute pits especially when they have so much potential. Thanks, Cristina! 😀
Too neat endings to books tend to frustrate me, too, Kristy. And while I love a slow burning romance, Cal sounds like he's a little bit on the winy side – am I right?
Not sure if this is for me or not, but I have to say the premise sounds very interesting 🙂
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Glad to know that I’m not the only one and haha, you’re right he was a little whiny in that lovestruck puppy sort of way. I’d say to give it chance since it is interesting just to figure out the ending lol
yeah, I want to get a good work out when it comes to mysteries. Like let me sweat a bit, won't you? Also, it's great that this wasn't sexy, at least it went against the grain like that.
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EXACTLY. If anything, I prefer a little bit of thrill with my mystery, more action, more pizzaz- sadly What If didn’t live up to my expectations of a mystery novel. Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by how tame this novel was, the NA genre has so much potential and there are so many good NA books out there, it’s a shame so many authors are using it to create a meh niche of what it means to be a 20 something-year-old falling in love.
I've had this on my shelf for quite a while, but have yet to get to the book. I bought it on a whim and didn't really know what to expect. I don't think it's a book I am going to rush to read.
It’s was very meh for me but I managed it to finish it pretty quickly. Hope you have a better experience with the book when you get around to it though!
I felt very similarly about this book as well. The romance was good but that big twist really wasn't much of a twist. I did like the lack of sex too. It worked for this book in my opinion.
I'm glad you enjoyed parts of it at least!
Great review, Kristy!
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My sentiments, exactly! Thanks, Nick!
Nowadays, I barely have any time for sluggish plots. So I don't know if I'll ever have the patience for this book. And I would have to agree with your expectations of gratuitous sex in NA. I've always said that if I wanted sex, I'll read Erotica. Lol.
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So many books, so little time. Gotta make the most of it, right? I try to read the best books I can instead of getting through ones I have no interest in and sluggish plots are definitely not for me either.
Great review Kristy 🙂 I find the topic of the mystery a bit odd, if you ran into someone and they looked like someone you knew…wouldn't you just ask? Or drop that in a conversation 'you look so much like…' ? or is that too easy?
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EXACTLY. If I was Cal I would literally just ask within three seconds of meeting Nyelle. It would’ve saved like, 200+ pages of roundabout pondering haha. I guess Cal likes the mystery too much.
Sounds like a book that would leave me feeling a bit blah too… Too much build up for what ends up being…
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It is, I was quite disappointed with the ending which is such a shame.
I read this a while ago but I remember having similar feelings to you – although I think I did enjoy it a touch more. Great review!
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Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed it a bit more than me. Thanks, Grace!