March 4, 2014

Title: Ask Again Later

Author: Liz Czukas ♥ @lizczukas

Expected Publication:
March 11, 2014

Publisher: HarperTEEN

Pages: 336

Genre(s): Young Adult ♥ Romance ♥ Contemporary

Source: Edelweiss

Summary from Goodreads:  Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.
Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 03/02/2014): 3.88

  • Christina thought this title was fun and funny. It goes on her Top Shelf!

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition. 

Initial Thoughts and Rating:
5 glowing stars!
 This book was everything that I love about young adult contemporaries- wonderfully dynamic, yet realistically portrayed teen characters, engaging plots, and witty dialogue. Czukas’s writing pulled me in with ease from the very first page and kept me laughing and loving this book until the very end.

♥ The Lowdown: Heart LaCoeur is your typical high school student. Even though she’s not the most popular girl in school, she isn’t perched on the bottom rung of the social hierarchy ladder either; rather, finds herself sitting comfortably among her fabulous theater friends. One thing everyone knows about Heart is that she doesn’t date. Like, ever. The thing everyone doesn’t know is that this rule is in place because her mom up and left  her, her dad, and her older brother not long after Heart was born, simply because it wasn’t the life– wife and mom to two kids by the age of 19– she had wanted for herself. Heart doesn’t want that for herself or her future children, so to make sure she doesn’t become her mom, she thinks that avoiding dating all together until she’s much older is the best solution for her. Plus, she likes the simplicity that comes with not having a complicated relationship. Crushing on fictional characters like Jack Sparrow is more her speed.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the real world or fictional,” I insisted. “Crushes are the best part of liking someone, and they are completely safe. You get all the benefits of fantasizing about someone, but none of the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not drama. It’s all the good parts with none of the parts that make you lie awake at night all angsty.”
~quote taken from my eARC of Ask Again Later at 30%

The problem with that, and the catalyst to the plot behind this whole book, comes when Heart gets two separate, surprise invites to go to prom. One is from a theater techy, Ryan, who doesn’t want to go alone and trusts Heart to protect his biggest secret. The other is from her brother’s best friend and fellow football player, Troy, who is heartbroken because he was dumped by his long-time girlfriend days before prom. All she really wants to do is go to the big dance with her No Drama Prom-a crew like she originally planned, but she doesn’t want to leave these two friends in need hanging either. So, a coin toss it is. Heads she’ll go with the jock. Tails she’ll go with the theater geek.

This book shows how even if we make different decisions that put us on separate paths, sometimes we still end up in the same place we were supposed to be all along. Fate usually has the last say after all.

My Thoughts: I simply adored this book. Every single thing about it. I don’t recall laughing out loud, literally, so many times because of a book before. I had extended family in the room (Yes, I’m the rude girl that reads when family is over, but it was my husband’s family and I had book plans, sooo…), and I kept getting weird looks because of the amount of times I snorted or let out a full-belly laugh. By the time I finished, my cheeks were in pain from being held in some form of a smile for hours. Thank goodness it was such a quick read or there might have been permanent damage.

We all know that character-driven books are my favorite reads, and I’m thrilled to report that the characters in this novel were the very best part. Heart and her whole group of friends, particularly Chase and Ryan, were perfect- eccentric and smart without coming across as pretentious jerks. They showed how friendships can build a person up and make life infinitely better. Quite their opposite, Heart’s brother, his jock buddies, and the rest of the popular group, who were given distinct voices as well, showed how popularity and alcohol change people and make them act differently than they normally would. The whole cast was some of the most realistically portrayed teenagers I’ve seen in a while. Czukas really has a way with dialogue, too. It was funny a majority of the time, but turned into heartfelt and real when it needed to be.

I also really enjoyed how the plot was executed. It almost felt like a dual narrative because every chapter alternated between whether Heart’s coin toss landed on heads or tails. We get to see how her night would have went with either boy and how the timeline intersects throughout despite having different dates. While it sounds like it could get a little convoluted, the way Czukas narrates the story and her effortless writing style really made it work seamlessly and easy to follow, which I imagine takes a great deal of skill. I never had any trouble at all keeping the story-lines straight and I absolutely loved how she tied both endings together into one big conclusion. It was believable and fantastically done. A car trunk has never sounded so appealing before.

Swoons? You figure out pretty early on who is going to be the swoon provider, but it takes us a while to get to them. There are moments sprinkled throughout, but once Heart gets thrown into a certain situation, they come at you repeatedly. My heart flutter-thumped quite a few times.

Swoony Teaser:

We stole out into the hall, pleased that no one was there to witness our escape. Schroeder cupped my face in his hands and kissed me softly.

     “What was that for?” I asked.

     “I figure I should probably do that as much as possible before you wise up and change your mind.”
~quote taken from my eARC of Ask Again Later at 96%

♥ Other Noteworthy UnMentionables:

A packet of condoms, girl fights, fake roaches, fictional crushes, dress malfunctions, old school dance moves, and all the shenanigans that will have you laughing for hours.

Rec It? Absolutely and to everyone! Ask Again Later had me feeling all the things; mostly overwhelming giddy happiness, but it also had all the appropriate angsty moments to make it a well-rounded book. It was a light-hearted novel that was made all the more entertaining because of all the ridiculous, yet hilarious situations that Heart found herself in. Furthermore, it was cute, jovial read that was over much too soon.

Not only will I be rereading this any time I need a quick pick-me-up, I’ll also be on the lookout for Czukas’s future novels. Consider me a fan.

A very special thanks to HarperTEEN and Edelweiss for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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