“It’s not the right time to be together, I agree. But if we meet again, under any circumstances, any time in the future, we’re making this work, Rory. Feck spouses. Feck boyfriends and girlfriends. Feck the world. If kismet happens, we are letting it happen, no matter what, you hear?”
I’d seen a lot of buzz about this book when it came out and decided to give it a shot. Aside from a short novella, this was my first time reading a book from L.J. Shen. The blurb caught my attention and things started off really great. I very much enjoyed the beginning where Rory and Mal first meet. Mal was fun, free-spirited, and magnetic – it was easy to see why Rory was attracted to him, especially given the sad circumstances that caused her to cross paths with him. It was hinted that he knew more than he let on about her which was a little nugget that I filed away, intrigued to learn what it was. They had their whirlwind romance in the short time they were together and when it came time for them to part they made their seemingly silly contract on a pub napkin that if they ever met again they would drop everything (including spouses/partners) and be together. It was fun and spontaneous and seemed like a promising start to the rest of the story.
Fast forward eight years and their paths do in fact cross again but the Mal we met briefly in the first chapter was a very different Mal than the one we see now – and at this point, we had no context for the personality transplant. Everything is eventually revealed but the road to the truth was a bumpy one for me. Miscommunication – or complete lack of – was a HUGE factor here and was a tad frustrating at times. The way Mal acted and the way he treated Rory almost makes you forget what a good guy he seemed at the start. He sort of redeems himself as the story goes but never enough to allow me to fully connect with him. I had a hard time connecting with Rory too. I understand that the profession they were in sometimes lends itself to loose morals but there was so much questionable behavior from pretty much every party that it made it hard for me to really like any of them. There were these little “notes” from other characters (and in some cases, objects) at the end of several chapters, which were sometimes cute, but most often they seemed to only serve to vilify the side characters so that the actions of the main characters didn’t seem as bad by comparison when the truth was – they were all basically a bunch of liars and cheaters.
I may have had some issues with the story as a whole but there were parts I liked (namely the beginning) and I found myself continuing to flip pages – much like someone would stare at a train wreck – just to see how everything was going to come together. I imagine that there are plenty of people who love angst and aren’t really bothered by questionable morals who would love this book. For me, it was a mixed bag, I didn’t absolutely love it, but I didn’t hate it either and I’d still be interested in checking out some of this author’s other work!