ARC Book Review: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Posted July 6, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne YoungJust Like Fate by Cat Patrick, Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse on August 27th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Parallel Universes, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...

2 Stars

In the first half of this year I discovered a sub-genre I’m totally in love with: stories involving alternate/parallel universes. I adore Pivot Point to pieces and Parallel was surprisingly endearing and good. Then I made it my goal to read all the books in this sub-genre coming out this year, and Just Like Fate popped up on my radar. I was excited, and I wanted to love it, but it brought nothing new to the table (except maybe eye rolls).

Within 50 pages, warning bells went off for me. It was something I should have realized when I first read the synopsis, but the set up for the alternate timelines definitely didn’t work for me. Basically, Caroline’s grandmother (who she lives with and takes care of her) has terminal cancer and is dying. She’s in the hospice, basically waiting to die, and on the fourth night Caroline is faced with a choice: to stay by her side for the night or to go, on her best friend’s insistence, to a party. Thus the two timelines are created but… hold up! In one timeline, she really leaves her grandmother on her death bed and goes to a party?

Admittedly, there’s extra justification in that, well, what are the odds that she’d die on that night (spoiler alert: she does), her sister’s being a total bitch to her and she can’t stand being in the same room as her for a second longer, and after three whole nights of staying by her grandmother’s side she deserves a break. … Ummm…

Yes, I should have realized this from the outset, by reading the synopsis. But honestly, the set up could have been more acceptable if she’d just… you know, been there every night for two weeks, and there still wasn’t a sign of an end to come. Just simply changing it by that much would have made the whole “Go” storyline more plausible. Because now, the result is, I’m already rolling my eyes at this contrived plot, thinking it was the “easy way out” in terms of set up, which diminishes my interest to keep reading in the first place, and even when I do push on, I find myself scoffing at the Caroline in the “Go” storyline because I already hate her selfish behavior.

My dislike for Caroline as a main character also spilled over into the “Stay” storyline. I don’t know. Possibly due to the bad set up for the timelines, I found it very hard to find a connection with her. Her personality lacked a spark, and I was just bored reading about her. She was so much a typical teenager in terms of jealous behavior, overreactions, parental detachment… I was gleefully happy when she felt guilty about leaving her grandmother and not getting to say goodbye to her because I felt that was righteous justice. Erm, yeah, and when you start thinking that way about the main character, it’s pretty much a done deal.

Though there are separate timelines, this is not sci-fi at all, and totally contemporary fiction, with a focus on relationships, be they platonic, familial, or romantic. I do like that focus, and I ended up really liking the development of the relationship between Caroline and her sister, Natalie. In the “Go” storyline, Caroline ends up moving in with her estranged father to have a fresh start, and I really liked that too, as I related to that quite a bit on a personal level. Father-daughter relationships are just very dear to my heart, and I liked how this one was ultimately presented, including the addition of a surprisingly sweet stepmother into the equation.

The romance was… all right, but I barely felt the chemistry. In each timeline, Caroline is met with the interest of a different guy. While Chris, in the “Go” storyline, was definitely more charming and very lovable, I was torn since I was sworn to hate that storyline in the first place. Besides, he was charming as a character, but I didn’t really feel the romantic chemistry. Joel, in the “Stay” storyline, was, quite simply, a prat and he angered me. Lots.

At certain points, Just Like Fate was such a walking, talking cliché that I was overwhelmed with eyerolling. From the mean girl who literally says, “I don’t need a reason to dislike you,” and beats up the main character, to the sister who, at the beginning at least, constantly looks down on everything Caroline does, to Caroline herself being the most juvenile, jealous girlfriend in the world… It was exhausting to read.

All things said and done though, at the end of the book, the message definitely came across. Much like the themes of Pivot Point and Parallel, certain points in life are fixed, but you do have some self-control over the choices you make, and it’s the journey towards your “fate” that makes all the difference. I like that message, overall, I do… But since I’ve already read two books that struck that chord and did it better, I couldn’t help but grow annoyed that I sat through 300 pages to get to that point. The journey to that message here? It was just plain boring.

Summing Up:

Annoyance and boredom are the two prevailing emotions I had while reading this book. Though I did like certain aspects (the relationships between the characters and the eventual message of the book), when I look back on this book, the first thing I’ll remember is how ridiculous and frustrating the set up of the timelines was. If you are interested in fate-related stories or alternate timelines, let this be your first foray into the sub-genre. If you’ve read others, like I have, this brings nothing new to the table.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Those very interested in the concept of fate.

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12 responses to “ARC Book Review: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

  1. I think I am still going to give this a shot because I have not yet read Pivot Point OR Parallel so I think that I won't have any expectations or whatever. Also hahaha sometimes I don't mind selfish characters, but who knows. At least I know going in what to kind of expect. 🙂

  2. litlushes

    Bummer!! I can agree, Caroline was very typical teenager and I got really annoyed with her at times, but I ended up liking the book overall. Sorry you didn't get into this one! I can definitely understand that. Especially after reading things like Pivot Point (I do still need to read Parallel) and there are a bunch more books coming out like this. BUT now I need to go read Parallel haha
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  3. I think you'll probably like it tons more than I did. The comparisons to Pivot Point and Parallel really kept me from enjoying this. I'll be very curious for your review! 🙂

  4. Exactly, I'm all for the parallel universe idea, but for this? Especially when little of the two paths really showcased different forms of character development. What I liked in Pivot Point was that Addie was different in each of the two paths because of the choices she made, and that was just kind of lacking here.

    I just read A Midsummer's Nightmare and it was AWESOME so I'm all better now 🙂

  5. OOoh I hope you will read Parallel because I just LOVE that book 🙂 Just Like Fate, compared to it and Pivot Point was just kind of bland… but I think if readers haven't read them then they'd probably like this. I don't really know why it didn't work for me at all, but I just found it boring. Glad you did like it though! I looked on Goodreads and all the other ratings so far seem to be 4-5 stars, so I'm obviously the black sheep so far.

  6. readerswonderland

    Ah, too bad. (Hey I loved Pivot Point too! c: ) Fantastic review, and love the gifs! Sounds like this one is fun of cliches and tropes. I wouldn't believe she left her poor grandmother either xD I think I would always hold that against the main character.

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

  7. Aww, thank you 🙂 Haha, I think, if a character leaving their grandmother to die sounds like a huge no to you, you should avoid this book. But others have enjoyed it – almost all the ratings so far on Goodreads are 4 or 5 stars. I don't really get it but… maybe this is just me.

  8. achoquet

    I keep thinking that I should read a alternate/parallel universe story. I keep seeing them pop up around the blogosphere and am intrigued by the idea, even though I've never personally tried reading one. And now I know that if I'm finally going to pick one up, it shouldn't be this one! Yikes! I totally agree with the poor grandmother decision. If it were a couple weeks instead of days, that would make a huge difference. But no way would I have left either of my grandmother's side in the hospital after three days, especially to go to a PARTY! What the hell?! And honestly? The fact that it's more of contemporary than sci-fi also turns me off. So pass for me! I'm thinking if I do get around to picking one up, it'll be Pivot Point. Everyone seems to be pretty much agree on that one.
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  9. Yes, yes yes! Go for Pivot Point. That is one of my favorite books ever and asdfjkl; nothing measures up. I hope you like it! And I dunno, I still haven't seen many reviews for this one, so I don't know if I'm the only one who has such issues with the plot set up. *sigh* We'll see.

  10. Yeah, I think it was extremely daring to attempt that kind of plot, but in a different way, they could have made it work. Sadly… no. If you do read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts.