(Never) Again by Theresa Paolo
Published: October 15, 2013 by Berkley Penguin Group
Source: From the publisher (via netgalley)
Just when she had finally moved on…
…He moved back.
When college freshman Liz Wagner hears her ex's voice for the first time since he moved clear across the freaking country, she does what any respectable girl would do: Dive into the girls' bathroom.
Zach Roberts—the Zach Roberts—is back. And he’s everywhere Liz looks—infiltrating her friend group, buddy-buddy with her brother. It’s enough to ruin college altogether. But what choice does she have but to put on a happy face and pretend he didn't leave her vulnerable and alone in a pile of emotional wreckage?
Pretending works, until tragedy strikes and the only person available for comfort is the one person she wants to stay away from. When Zach turns out not to be the jerk she convinced herself he was, but the boy she used to love, Liz needs to decide whether to open her heart again to the boy who tore it out. [goodreads]
What starts out as any other day in college for Liz, quickly becomes a day that brings her past back into her present day life. That past belongs to a boy who once stole her heart, only to crush it into a million pieces. That part of her past goes by the name of Zach. Just as suddenly as Zach had exited her life back in high school, he's quickly walked back into Liz's college life. He's accepted back by their once shared friends, but Liz remains not so welcoming. There's an obvious tension here, but the mystery remains as to what made Zach leave so suddenly before, and why is he back in Liz's life now.
I started out appreciating this New Adult novel because it didn't center around an abusive relationship, or some other traumatic experience, which I see so often in these books. The story focuses on a girl who had her heart broken, which I believe many can relate to. I liked that it was set in college; however, I wanted more scenes that gave it that true college feel. Since Liz lives in an apartment with her best friend, it lacked some of that college appeal that goes along with dorm rooms and being on campus.
There were moments that I felt dragged a bit, particularly when Liz is rehashing her relationship with Zach. It was obvious that he broke her heart, and she was determined to keep her guard up, but there were times when I felt this message kept repeating itself. I did enjoy the moments when Zach was persistent on being in Liz's life now. He wasn't over the top, yet he wasn't aloof either. Zach had a nice balance of wanting to make his wrongs right, yet keeping that mysterious appeal as well. I sensed a softer side to him, that only Liz could bring out.
The voice felt a bit more YA in parts, so I struggled connecting with Liz, but I also think that may have been due to her character, and how inexperienced she was. I think this novel would be a good story for those seeking New Adult titles with a little less angst and issues, and a little more soft and sweet. This story offers a climatic sequence of events that are evenly fleshed out. Overall I liked this book, but I wasn't head over heels in love with it.