Quick review for a quick read. Honestly, it wasn’t as if I disliked “(Never) Again” for its intentions or writing. Theresa Paolo knew how to move through the narrative’s story and knew how to get into Liz’s mindset as she toggles between her present life and the past as a former lover comes back into the picture after leaving her in a world of hurt.
But, and this is a big but, much of this story came across on a very surface level. A lot of the conflict really felt unexplored for emotion and while the events should’ve been jarring and connected with me, they didn’t. Liz came across with a shallow perspective and while I could understand that’s part of personality and lending to her circumstances, I think that prevented me, alongside the delivery of events in this novel, from completely connecting with it.
Liz thought she’d gotten over Zach when he was her first love and disappeared without so much as a goodbye. But now he’s back and Liz is furious and wants nothing to do with him. She has a boyfriend (Joe), she has a new plan for her life (didn’t get into her dream university, settled for another), she has new hobbies (quit baking, which was a passion of hers, but she left it by the wayside when Zach left). But Josh starts connecting with her friends, and somehow trying to make himself a part of her life, and Liz is having none of it.
Except that she is. She learns the real reason why he left, and neither one of them have gotten over the other. I feel like there were too many “convenient” circumstances in this novel to make Liz and Zach’s relationship work (Joe’s growing distance, Liz and Zach bonding over a tragedy that befalls Liz’s brother, everyone pretty much telling Liz that Joe is bad for her, etc.) That’s the reason why I didn’t connect, something about it just didn’t feel natural to me, and I couldn’t believe in it beyond what was essentially a formulaic story.
It was a quick read, and I’ll say that I saw where the narrative was going and it’s a bit better structured than some novels I’ve come across in this genre, but in the end, it needed far, far more to carry it.
Overall score: 1.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Intermix.