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It Wasn't Always Like This

Review

It Wasn't Always Like This

Joy Preble is a writer known for her young adult novels. She has written multiple books with components of fantasy, mystery, historical fiction and more. Preble has written a standalone contemporary novel titled FINDING PARIS, published in 2015. She has completed a fantasy trilogy, Dreaming Anastasia, with the final installment published in 2012. She has also completed a duology titled Sweet Dead Life, the second book published in 2014, which has elements of a fantasy, the paranormal, mystery and more. Preble’s newest novel, IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, originally published May 2016, has many similar elements to her Sweet Dead Life series. This book is a young adult fantasy, historical novel, romance and mystery novel all in one.

"IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS was a fun, unique story with an exquisitely beautiful writing style that I loved."

The story follows a 17-year-old girl named Emma. She is young, in love and happy. Perfect, right? Not exactly. Emma is immortal and does not age, along with her family and her boyfriend Charlie’s family. They became immortal after drinking a tea they believed would make them immune to polio, not immortal! This wreaks havoc on their lives and changes everything. An evil man named Glen Walters has noticed that Emma, Charlie and their families do not age. He thinks it is his duty to root the evil out of the world and he thinks that being immortal is unnatural and wrong, so he kills both of their families. Luckily, Emma and Charlie are not in the building when Glen Walters burns it down, killing everyone inside. Therefore, Emma and Charlie must go on the run, and they do so for over a century. They get separated at the beginning of their journey and Emma is now alone and must begin searching for Charlie. She never stays in one place too long for the fear of people noticing that she always looks the same. However, she knows that Glen Walter’s followers and descendants are still after her.

The story alternates between the present and past, telling both a historical story and a contemporary one. In the present, Emma is a private investigator investigating murders of girls who look strikingly similar to herself. The story alternates between telling both Emma’s and Charlie’s story.

I really enjoyed this book. I always found it gripping and interesting. I am a sucker for a mystery and historical fiction, so naturally I was excited about this book. Preble did a great job portraying the immortality and showing how it has affected her characters and she made it seem very real. Emma and Charlie seemed believable and it was really cool to see their character development and how they changed over the course of a century. I also enjoyed their cute love story and the family dynamics at the beginning of the story.

IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS had multiple moments that literally caused my jaw to drop. I loved all of the little surprises this book packed in and how it always kept me on my toes. I also enjoyed the short chapters, so the story never got too boring or seemed to drag on. The alternating between the past and present, and Emma’s and Charlie's stories, also helped to keep the story fast-paced and fresh.

In my opinion, IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS was a fun, unique story with an exquisitely beautiful writing style that I loved. As much as I enjoyed the book, I didn't feel a strong or emotional connection to the characters as much as I loved them, which is why I gave this book four stars as opposed to five. Overall, I did really enjoy it though and do recommend it. I was satisfied with the ending and overall plot.

I think this story is best for teenagers who love fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, and/or romance novels. There is some strong language and brief sexual references, so that is something to keep in mind. This story is one that is always very exciting and will keep the reader wanting more. It is so unique to have a novel that can be categorized as so many different genres, so anyone who would love a fresh and unique novel, is sure to love IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS.

Reviewed by Shannon C., Teen Board Member on May 1, 2017

It Wasn't Always Like This
by Joy Preble