These are contemporaries, which happen to have released this month (actually, this week)! They were both good, though I loved one more. Let’s check them out! 
The Resolutions by Mia Garcia
Published by HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books on November 13, 2018
Pages: 416
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
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New Years are for fresh starts, but Jess just wants everything to go back to the way it was.

From hiking trips, to four-person birthday parties, to never-ending group texts, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable—and unstoppable. But now, with senior year on the horizon, they’ve been splintering off and growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan.

Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year’s Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them for each other—dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, show your paintings, learn Spanish, say yes to everything.

But not even the best laid plans can take into account the uncertainties of life. As the year unfolds, Jess, Ryan, Nora, and Lee each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heart breaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.

This was cute. I think that people who are a little more ride-or-die contemporary fans will probably appreciate it even more than I did, so keep that in mind. Still, I liked that it explored the different lives of these four friends as they navigated the highs and lows of high school, family, romance, and of course, their relationships with each other. So let us dive into what I enjoyed versus what I didn’t as much!

The Stuff I Liked:

  • Obviously, the aforementioned relationships. Seeing a bunch of friends who are truly decent people and who want the best for each other is refreshing. No toxicity, no awfulness. They had ups and downs, sure, but there is no question that they all loved each other deeply and would move heaven and earth for each other. That’s rare, and I like it.
  • Everything about Lee’s story. She was really my favorite character, probably because her story gave me so many feels. There was a medical issue, the loss of a parent, a really complex relationship with her dad, and my favorite romance in the book.
  • Loads of realistically portrayed diversity.  This was really awesome- I loved how the characters were all grappling a bit with their identities as Latinx young adults. And not just their own thoughts on their identities, but also their families’ expectations. There was also gay and bisexual rep, and I loved how damn healthy Nora and Beth’s relationship was. It may be one of the healthiest romances I have ever read about in a YA book, honestly.
  • Great mental health portrayal. I liked that Jess was such a perfectionist, so adamant about dismissing her issues at first, because it seemed very honest. Truly, I feel like a lot of young people (or old people, tbh) can relate to this- a feeling of “failing” because they have actual human limits and needs. I think the author handled it very well, too.

The Stuff I Didn’t:

  • It felt a little longer than it needed to be. Some of the stories, especially in the beginning-middle, dragged a bit. I even considered putting the book down. I am glad I didn’t, though. It was worth it in the end, but I don’t know if readers who are more likely to DNF would make it to those parts? I actually ended up rounding my rating up, because I did end up liking so much of the story in the end. But it took me a hot second to really care about the characters (other than Lee) and you know, actually feel stuff, though I definitely did by the end.  So even though it is my only gripe, it’s sort of an important one.

Bottom Line: Lots of great stuff, though a draggy start. Absolutely worth it in the end, and I think huge contemporary fans will gobble this one up.

Four Three Two One by Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperTeen on November 13, 2018
Pages: 400
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
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In this contemporary YA novel, a girl reunites with the three other survivors of a bus bombing that killed nineteen people, and together they face the secrets, struggles, and emotional warfare that each has been enduring.

Golden “Go” Jennings wasn’t supposed to be on Bus 21 the day it blew up in New York City. Neither was her boyfriend, Chandler. But they were. And so was Rudy, a cute stranger whom Go shared a connection with the night before. And Caroline, a girl whose silence ended up costing nineteen people their lives.

Though it’s been a year since the bombing, Go isn’t any closer to getting over what happened. Since Chan shuts down every time Go brings that day up, she decides to reach out to Rudy. Just like that, the two fall right back into their easy, deep connection. Facing the past head-on with Rudy has opened up a small window of healing Go never thought was possible. So she makes an impulsive decision: Round up the rest of the survivors and head to New York City. There they will board an art installation made of the charred remnants of Bus 21.

But things are never easy when it comes to rehashing the past. Uniting the four stirs up conflicting feelings of anger and forgiveness and shows them that, although they all survived, they may still need saving.

I haven’t been so enamored with a book in quite some time. This was such a freaking amazing book, and one I hadn’t expected to hit me as hard as it did. And truth be told, I don’t think that anything I can say will fully do it justice. Have you ever read a book and it just exuded a certain feeling? Drew you in, made you fall in love with the whole damn thing? Well, that’s where we are here. So I am going to tell you a bunch of junk I liked about the book, while trying to explain that it is even more than the sum of these positives. Okay, here we go!

  • Female friendship that is just… everything I want in a girl bond. The relationship that Go had with Becky was just authentic as hell. Sure, it was messy sometimes, and complicated, but Becky was going to be there for Go no matter what. Go learned so much about herself and others from her relationship with Becky, and it was just healthy and a great representation of what friendships are really all about.
  • Loads of family stuff. Go’s relationship with her parents was complicated at best. But also really realistic feeling, and full of love. But the best, the best relationship was the one Go had with her grandma. Gran reminded me of a combination of both of my grandmothers, who I love and adore more than just about anyone, so seeing her have this incredible relationship with hers was so freaking heartwarming.
  • Trials and tribulations of the aftermath of a trauma, but also of just life and growing up. So this is twofold, because each of these things on its own is awesome, but also when you add them together it’s incredibly profound. Obviously, the ramifications of the bombing are numerous. You have survivor’s guilt, regular guilt, trying to move on after, and so on. The story develops a lot as the friends travel on, and you get a lot of insight into the baggage that everyone is carrying. But, it’s also about growing up in its own right. Growing apart from people you love, finding new people to love, and figuring out who and what you want to be. Obviously, navigating these two dynamics together makes for some powerful storytelling.
  • The writing is simply lovely. I highlighted just a ton of passages. Some were beautiful, some were poignant, some were light-hearted and fun, but overall I found the writing to be such a huge plus in this book.
  • I cared for every single character. Even the more minor ones, everyone in the story truly served a purpose.

Bottom Line: Like I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness. It’s just a story that you feel so deeply, one that I wholeheartedly recommend.

So, are you a huge contemporary fan? What is the last contemporary book that made you fall in love?

Posted November 16, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Dual, Review / 15 Comments

15 responses to “Dual Review: November Contemporaries

  1. Lovely reviews, Shannon! <3 I am a huge contemporary fan, so these two are right down my alley for sure! I already had The Resolutions on my TBR, it sounds like such a great read and I'm happy to hear it had great mental health rep, too, I'm always looking for that so that's great!
    I hadn't heard about that second book but I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much, need to keep that one in mind! 🙂

  2. Both of these were huge hits for me. Becky was my sunshine in that story, and thought she was really important, because she was outside of the trauma, who could be more objective. Stevens is becoming a fast favorite of mine. She really knows how to write fantastic friendships. I think I felt a little more invested in each character’s life with the Resolutions, so the book didn’t drag for me at all. And OMG, Lee! I may have some tears in my eyes just thinking about her right now. <– why I need an epilogue or a followup or a novella or something

  3. You know me, I love my contemporaries. Unfortunately I DNF’d one last night (This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story). I’m not sure about The Resolutions but I love the sound of Four Three Two One. It’s rare when *every character* makes an impact and you truly care for them all. Love when that happens.

  4. Beth W

    I hadn’t heard of Four Three Two One but it sounds phenomenal, and now it’s on my library list. Yay! The Resolutions I’ll read because there’s a character with me name. Yes, I am that shallow. 😀

  5. The Resolutions looks cute, and yay for non- toxic relationships! Four Three Two One is a book I would pass by due to the survivor of a bombing thing- I tend to avoid contemps that seem too close to reality, or at least stuff like that- but it sounds really rewarding! So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  6. Hi! Hope you been well! I’m logging onto my blog after a year lol, we used to keep in touch on each others blogs, and I use instagram as my blog now. I’d love for us to keep in touch on there! The link is below.

    x Benish @ IG@BumbleBeeHolic

  7. I absolutely love contemporaries! These both sound really good, especially Four Three Two One. It sounds like a really emotional read, but I really want to read it!

  8. I feel as though it’s been ages since I’ve read a really engaging contemporary. They all seem to be about love curing all or triangles or miscommunication. Four, Three, Two, One sounds brilliant. I love messy, complicated friendships because life isn’t easy and fiction should reflect how intricate we all are. Definitely adding that one to my summer reading list Shannon, brilliant review! ♡♡♡

  9. I’m not a big contemporary reader, but I’m curious about The Resolutions. I hate when a book feels like it could have been cut by 50 pages or so. That’s a bit how I felt about The Hate U Give. I loved the book, it just felt long.

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  10. The second one definitely sounds more like a book I’d like. A few contemporaries I’ve liked recently are A Thousand Perfect Notes, What If It’s Us, and We Regret to Inform You. It’s neither my favorite nor least favorite genre, though I’ve read a lot more lately because that’s what my students tend to like.

  11. OOh that second one has intrigued me SO much and I hadn’t heard of it at all until now!! (Which reminds me how bad Iv’e been at reading books unless they’re hugely talked about this year. Gah, fail, cait.) And all the friendships and close bonds have my little heart flailing. That’s what I love reading about!

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