Expected publication: May 6th 2014
When Eros (aka Cupid) is expelled from Olympus for defying Zeus after falling in love with Orion, she is banished to what she believes to be hell. We call it New Jersey. If she ever wants to go back to the comforts of her old life, she will have to find love for three couples—without using her powers.
Eros, now calling herself True, immediately identifies her first project in Charlie and believes finding him love will be a piece of cake. Charlie is new at school and eager to break out of his old image of band geek, so it’s lucky for him when he falls in with the right crowd on his first day. But music is still his passion. That is, until he meets Katrina…
Katrina is floundering after the death of her father and takes refuge with a boy who, while not entirely supportive, will be there when she needs him, unlike her mother. Too bad True thinks any girl Charlie talks to is perfect for him. Can she get out of her own way and help Charlie and Katrina connect, or will she be stuck in New Jersey forever?
Kieran Scott is one of my Jedi Masters of YA – she’s been writing YA since before we really called it that (and since *I* was a YA…yikes, I’m old), she edited Sweet Valley books, and no one does YA contemporary romance quite like her (Some of you may know her as Kate Brian – this woman is a writing machine!). So it’s no surprise that when I saw she had this new YA contemp coming out, I jumped at the chance to review it.
Ok, truth? I jumped at it more for Kieran than for the premise, which seemed a little silly to me – I mean, come on, a Greek goddess descends down to earth to be matchmaker so she can save her own true love? It sounded a little out there to me. But I’m the first to admit it when I’m wrong – and I was pretty wrong about Only Everything. This is book is full-on Kieran Scott, combining sweet, stomach-fluttering moments with darker themes of abuse and neglect, punctuated with zany cluelessness and learning-one’s-lesson.
Most of the learning comes from True, one of the three narrators of the book, and our resident goddess, also known as Eros or Cupid. No, she’s not a fat baby cherub, she’s a teenage girl who lives on Olympus, a lower goddess whose mother is Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. True’s job is finding people to match together using her soul-reading skills, and shooting them with arrows. Except that she’s fallen for a mortal, and her dad, God of War Ares, and their king, the mighty Zeus, are not pleased with her. To punish her, Zeus sends True to earth – to New Jersey – and gives her a limited amount of time to match three couples. The kicker? She has no powers – she’s just a human now who has to use her brains to match the couples.
The hilarity and learning comes from the fact that True has always had it super easy – she’s never really had to work for anything, so to be a human, in a fallible human body (what the heck is a hangover? Oops…) is really hard for her. She starts off quite entitled and as the book goes on, really learns a lot about how strong she is and what she can do. Scott did a decent job balancing True’s whininess with humour and glimpses of how kind she can be. I think I could have hated True a lot more had it not been for her honest, sincere belief in love and its curative powers.
Speaking of love, True starts out by attempting to match up another “new kid” in school, Charlie, who is our second narrator. Charlie’s a sweet guy who loves drumming and has always been teased or beaten up at school. Now, coming to New Jersey, he accidentally falls in with the “cool” crowd and ends up doing a lot of stuff that he maybe doesn’t really care about to impress people, including his jock father. It’s a predictable storyline, but it’s well done. Again, I think in the wrong author’s hands, Charlie could have been totally one-note, but Scott’s delicate balance of characters and moments made him adorable.
Katrina, the third narrator, had the darkest story, and it’s the one that got me the most. Kat has recently lost her father in the car accident, and it’s turned her life upside down. She’s tanked her sophomore year, has burnout friends, and is dating a guy who totally doesn’t appreciate her. The latter relationship is the worst, and it touches on some of the classic signs of abuse. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think a lot of girls will relate to Kat and her relationship. It’s a bit of a journey to the end with her, and it’s a good one.
Even though Only Everything was very enjoyable and I liked the characters, there were a few things that brought it down for me. The first was the introduction of a deux ex machina type character who helped some of the others find their way – it was kind of an obvious ploy, and it made the rest of the book a little too predictable. I liked the character a lot (definitely my favourite), but I wished he hadn’t been SO much the reason why certain characters got their act together. It cheapened the triumph at the end a little.
In the same vein, the ending of the book felt a little rushed to me, and everything was resolved a little too quickly. I wanted more of an arc for the characters, and I was a bit disappointed that a lot of it was resolved without a lot of hard work.
Thirdly, because I liked Katrina and Charlie a lot better than I liked True, I found True’s flashbacks to her past life a bit dry. I found myself wishing that I could get back to Katrina’s head, which seemed like a way more interesting place than True’s woe-is-me arc. It’s a testament to Scott’s writing that I didn’t put the book down because of that.
Speaking of writing, Scott is, as I said, a YA master. Everything felt easy, fun, and effortless – she writes with a clear voice for each narrator, and there was never a moment where I was pulled out of the story because of her writing. Because of that, Only Everything is a fast, fun read, one you can devour quickly, and then look forward to the sequels (but not die waiting!).
Magical Foreshadowing: There are definitely a few threads that were left to tie up in the next books, and one of them has to do with True’s abilities – again, don’t want to give anything away, but that was one of the coolest parts of the book for me, and it will definitely keep me reading.
Greek Mythology: There’s a cast of characters in the Greek god/goddess world for any aficionado – I’ve never been super into Greek mythology, but Scott made the gods and goddesses easy to follow and a fun part of the story.
The Final Word:
Only Everything was a fun read, but it left me wanting a little bit. I thought we could have gotten deeper into Katrina and Charlie’s stories, but it ended up feeling a bit fluffy instead. Still, I liked the characters, and the concept, along with the trio of narrators, made it a unique read. Definitely a beach read, but one with a lot of heart.
ONLY EVERYTHING comes out May 6th! Will you be picking it up? Is this your kind of summer read? Do you like books with Greek mythology? Are you a contemps girl like me, or do you need even more of the weird and wonderful in your life? Let me know in the comments!