Review: What If by Rebecca Donovan

May 29, 2015 Review 14 ★★★

Review: What If by Rebecca Donovan
What If by Rebecca Donovan
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Release Date: 12th February 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Love & Romance, New Adult
three-starsthree-starsthree-stars
What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time?

Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago.

Except this girl isn't Nicole.

She looks exactly like Cal's shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she's hiding, the less he wants to know.

When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.
This book may be unsuitable for younger readers due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence. Note that this review itself does not contain any inappropriate material.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

bec (2)

I’ve been staring at my computer for an hour now trying to figure out how to start this review. All I can come up with is “hey, WHAT IF is the first NA I’ve read while being at uni.” But that’s not exactly helpful, is it. Well I guess maybe in the fact that NA is a genre I read only occasionally, and usually on holidays when I devour it in a day or two because I’m in a romance mood.

The lack of thoughts does not stem from the fact that WHAT IF was a meh or bad book. It was actually quite decent, I enjoyed reading it and it delivered more than I expected it to. I just can’t  think of what I want to say or how to say it.

Just like the other NA I’ve read, WHAT IF has a big focus on romance. Not “let’s have sex all the time and ignore all our classes” romance, but fairly slow burn romance. Although it’s slow burn, the main character, Cal, (OMG a NA narrated by a male!) does spend a lot of time thinking about Nyelle who strangely resembles his childhood friend and crush Nicole. Too much time thinking about her if you ask me, it was starting to get a little creepy. Fortunately not stalkery or my opinion about this book may be very different. Still it would have been nice to know a little more about people who weren’t Nyelle/Nicole, or maybe his classes or something. (Granted, the novel does centre on the whole mystery surrounding Nyelle and whether she is or isn’t Nicole)

Some of things that wasn’t romance I really enjoyed were the childhood flashbacks between chapters and how the mystery surrounding Nyelle was constructed. The flashbacks themselves were cute and I loved seeing what the characters were like. They also made you wonder more and more what happened to make Nicole change so much, if Nyelle really is the same person? What happened? Clues to the whole mystery are dropped excruciatingly slowly as you read and it was so hard to wait patiently for answers. I just needed to know. The answer to the mystery had surprisingly more feels attached than expected (though not so much that I cried) and not the truth I guessed would be included when I first started reading.

WHAT IF was a pretty enjoyable read all round. There is a pretty heavy focus on the romance, but there’s also an interesting mystery that’s well woven with an answer I didn’t guess right from the start. WHAT IF is a novel I’d recommend to people looking for a New Adult romance with interesting characters and not excessive/explicit adult content (if that type of thing turns you off books).

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Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Romance
Overall: 3.1

14 Responses to “Review: What If by Rebecca Donovan”

  1. Veronika

    I’m kind of intrigued by the synopsis but I’m hesitant to pick any book by Rebecca Donovan up after reading Reason to Breath. Let’s just say, I wasn’t as much in love with it as everyone else was. Usually, I’m able to try out other books by authors whose previous works I didn’t like but based on your review I’m not sure I’d be able to enjoy this novel. I never really liked when Mystery was mixed with NA Romance, so I think I’d rather skip this.
    Anyways, fabulous review. :)
    Veronika recently posted…Grim by Various Authors

    • Bec

      I haven’t had the chance to read her other series but I’ve seen it around. This was my first time experiencing mystery entwined and I thought it worked relatively well for this story anyway.

      Yeah, picking up authors you’ve found to be meh before can be hard. Occasionally they surprise you, but other times you remember why you didn’t like their writing the first time round.

    • Bec

      Having too much of a focus on romance can annoy me so I really appreciated the subplots in this :)

  2. Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind

    All of the NA books I have read have a heavy focus on romance or sex. It gets kind of ridiculous sometimes with the “let’s have sex all the time” that you and I have experienced. So it’s kind of nice that What If focuses on something else. Yet, your rating makes me think What If wasn’t an overwhelmingly wonderful read so I’ll probably pass. If you read any NA books with less emphasis on romance I would love to know what you think Bec.
    Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind recently posted…#FitReaders: May 29th 2015 Check-In

    • Bec

      It wasn’t amazing but it was a nice read overall. Most of the NA I’d classify as NA is contemporary and so does focus a lot on romance, but I think that’s become entwined in the genre. There’s some fantasy novels and such I’d classify as upper YA that could probably cross over into NA which aren’t overrun by romance. I’ll be sure to review them if I ever stumble across more!

  3. Meredith

    You are not alone about staring at your screen. There have been several books that I have read, and get ready to write the review but struggle to find the right words to use. Like you said, they weren’t bad books at all. Great review :)
    Meredith recently posted…Feature and Follow (#1)

  4. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    I know what you mean^^ sometimes when a book is averagely good, you finish it not really knowing what to say about it. Those kinds of stories don’t tend to leave big impressions so you feel like: well I read it, it was ok/good….and…that’s it. I’m intrigued about the mystery of this one so I’m tempted to check it out, even though the romance and infatuation of the mc might turn me off. I’d never heard of this one so thanks for putting it on my radar in any case. :)
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Fandom Mashups #4

    • Bec

      These reviews are the hardest to write. You don’t have anything to say which makes you write a dispassionate review which can be taken as the book is bad when it’s really not!

      Glad I could introduce you to something new :)

  5. Kirsty-Marie

    Okay, it has a big focus on romance, but glad it’s a slow burn one (although the does sound a bit, uhm, creey.) But the mystery sounds interesting (and I always love flashbacks for some reason) and sounds like that the answers were worth the wait though!
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: An Ember in the Ashes

    • Bec

      The romance was borderline creepy. A little strange to read for a while haha.

      The answers were really intriguing!

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