Saturday, 16 August 2014
Review: Upside Down by Lia Riley
Released: August 5th, 2014
Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying goodbye to painful memories-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll pretend to be a carefree exchange student. Everything is going to plan until she meets a surly surfer with hypnotic green eyes, and the troubling ability to see straight through her act. Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he slunk back to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. A single semester abroad won't cover something this serious. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.
I've read a lot of NA books now and I'll admit they don't always stand out - they can be quite formulaic and predictable. I'm not saying Upside Down doesn't follow any of the usual patterns, because it does, but I enjoyed it more than some other titles I've read. In fact, I read it in just a few hours which can be unusual for me these days, so I think that says something!
Talia, like many other characters in this genre of book, is going through a family tragedy - the loss of her sister. She meets Bran one night, a twenty-three year old with enough of his own problems, and they instantly hit it off. Their relationship builds fairly slowly, which is how I like it, rather than rushing into everything and it all taking less than a week. They're both apprehensive when it comes to taking things to the next level, and for that reason they get to know each other more.
Bran can be difficult to figure out at times, and he makes some questionable decisions that just seem stupid. He's stubborn and has his pride, but once he realises he's wrong he does the right thing. Talia is perhaps too trusting, but when you put these two together they cancel each other out and actually form a somewhat healthy relationship that is full of chemistry and a deeper understanding of what each is going through. They go together well.
Upside Down is mostly set in Australia, with quick stops in California and Tasmania. I enjoy books set in Australia, especially when they describe the place well - I'll never go there so it's good to get an accurate picture of what it's like. I think this could have been utilised more in this book, but there isn't much time for a geography lesson for those of us who don't like travelling. I'd like more books to be set in Australia - it's a great place to read about, with lots of opportunities for surfing and run-ins with scary wildlife.
Upside Down is the first book in the Off the Map series, which is published as eBook only for now. Look out for the paperback coming in 2015, especially if you're an avid reader of the NA genre. You'll want to add this one to your shelves and meet Talia and Bran as soon as possible. After the ending of Upside Down I can't wait to see what happens in Sideswiped. I hope it's as compelling and addictive as this!
Please note: not suitable for younger readers.