Title: Shuffle, Repeat
Author: Jen Klein
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Shelves: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance
Format: eBook (336 pages)
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3 stars
June wants high school to end and real life to begin. Oliver is soaking up senior year’s glory days. They could have coasted through high school, knowing about—but not really knowing—each other.
Except that their moms have arranged for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Single. Day.
Suddenly these two opposites are fighting about music, life . . . pretty much everything. But love is unpredictable. When promises—and hearts—get broken, Oliver and June must figure out what really matters. And then fight for it.
Due to a super long book hangover, this is actually the first standalone novel that I’ve read since late-May. I chose this novel after a rummage through Goodreads for new fiction to read, and I chose a book I knew would be fun and cute and easy to read. This novel came out quite recently, and its Goodreads description recommends this novel to fans of Stephanie Perkins, Huntley Fitzpatrick, and Jenny Han – whose novels I have read and really enjoyed. So around midnight a couple nights ago, I decided to download it and just dive right in (I’m currently unemployed and have no sleep schedule – yay me).
This book is a pretty standard YA contemporary romance novel. We have June – cynical and sarcastic, desperate to graduate from high school so she can finally start living in the ‘real’ world, and Oliver – popular, good-looking, star-player of the school’s football team, revelling in what he believes will be the best years of his life. Recently moving into a new farmhouse inherited to her mother, Hannah, June is forced to get taken to school by Oliver, who just so happens to be the son of her mother’s best friend. Disagreeing with each other’s music choices and outlooks on life, Oliver devises a game that, when they can prove that their life philosophy is the ‘correct’ one, they get to choose a song to add to their ‘Sunrise Songs’ playlist. This game results in a growing relationship with these lifelong acquaintances, as they force each other to step outside their worldviews, and see their high school lives through each other’s eyes.
Opening the novel and seeing the contents, it was a nice surprise to see that the layout is not only in standard chapters, but also categorised into the four seasons. This layout reminds me a lot of Pete Hautman’s The Big Crunch, and what I like about it is that it makes you feel more included in the main character’s life, as each season can serve as a representation of the MC’s development, and their relationship with the love interest, as so:
Fall – New school year, meet the MC’s love interest and their friends/family
Winter – Relationship between the MC and the love interest grows
Spring – This relationship continues to grow, but then there is a bump in the road, relationship sours and ends
Summer – MC learns new life lessons, relationship is usually resolved, happy ending!
While I enjoy this layout, the first chapter of this novel made me wary, and this is due to the characterisation of June. She’s pretty judgemental, and for a second I even considered giving up on this novel, as I thought that she would be a really annoying character throughout. This example is from the second page of the novel:
“I know you have amassed a certain amount of nice-guy cred, but you don’t really have to pick me up. It’s egregious. It’s excessive.” Belatedly, I remember that Oliver might not follow my advanced vocabulary, and I dial it back so he’ll understand.”
The SECOND page.
So I read this and roll my eyes and decide to just endure this type of assholery believing that it’ll taper out overtime as the character development kicks in. And looking back, I don’t think that she gets more annoying than she is here. If you can endure the first chapter then I think you can get through this book. And of course June becomes less judgemental over the course of the novel due to her friendship with Oliver. He’s a nice character: Sweet, fun, caring. I think this novel would have benefited with a dual POV so we could see and understand Oliver and his actions some more. I’m struggling to come up with something to say about Oliver other than “He was nice.” (Maybe I’m just rusty at writing book reviews).
Normally in contemporary novels like this I actually love the secondary characters and this was no exception. The funniest parts of the novel for me came from June’s liberal mother, Hannah, as she embarked on a romantic relationship with her contractor, Cash (who I liked a lot, but we don’t see much of him). June also has a small group of school friends who definitely made the novel more entertaining with their attempts at finding love. Again, I just wish we saw more of them.
This book is a cute read, one which I found pretty enjoyable (it got me out of my massive book-slump!) but I’m sure a couple months from now, I won’t be able to remember much about this novel. Nothing about this novel really stands out for me. But perhaps that is due to me reading so many YA books similar to this one.
(P.S. – So glad to be back! Apologies for my month-long absence, it’s been a weird one.)
Would I read this novel again? A cute book, but most likely not.
Who would I recommend this novel to? Fans of contemporary romance novels set in high school, people looking for a light read for the summer, people stuck in a reading slump (like me).