Monday, August 05, 2013

Review: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young

Title: Just Like Fate
Authors: Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: August 27th 2013
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult
Source: BEA - I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest reivew. Thanks!
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending..
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Just Like Fate started out not working for me as well as I'd hoped. It starts with the big decision of whether Caroline should stay or go; the decision that will split her fate for the rest of this novel. But, to be honest, I found that "crossroads" kind of ridiculous. In the description, it says that her grandmother is "sick, maybe dying," but that wasn't the impression I got; to me, it seemed obvious that she didn't have more than a day left to live, and the family was worried about whether or not she would even wake up one more time and give them the chance to say goodbye. That, to me, made it obvious that Caroline should stay, especially because the "pressure" and wanting to "escape" is never really explored. Therefore, I found the whole starting point for the two realities, the whole premise of the novel, kind of weak and contrived.

Once we get to read about Caroline's two lives, though, I started enjoying the novel more. I liked seeing how her life plays out differently in the two 'fates'. I especially liked seeing the parallels between the two universes, or whatever these are, like whenever something happens in one universe, and the opposite happens in the other one, or the same thing happens but at a different time and under different circumstances. It's hard to explain; I just really enjoyed seeing people's paths cross and relationships develop in different ways, if that makes sense.

Still, the novel isn't exactly deep, and for the most part, we just barely scratch the surface. Take the romance, for example: it's cute, but it's also entirely predictable. It's the classic love triangle with the good guy and the guy who seems nice but turns out to be a douchebag. The only thing that saves the romance from being that annoying love triangle is the fact that it's not really a love triangle, since the two love interests are in different universes or paths of Caroline's life or whatever this is supposed to be, meaning that two different Carolines have these experiences and there's no actual choosing between Joel and Chris, at least not in the typical way. Still, some more depth to their characters couldn't have hurt. The same goes for the family storyline - I enjoyed reading about the development of Caroline's relationships with various family members, but the stories aren't exactly explored in any new way.

I really liked the premise of Just Like Fate - seeing Caroline's life play out in two different ways was really interesting, and I liked exploring how small choices can affect so much. Nevertheless, all of the storylines are predictable and not explored in any original way. But even if the smaller things aren't all that new or meaningful, Just Like Fate is an entertaining read for the unique premise and set-up of the story.


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