Books, YA Fiction

In a World Just Right, by Jen Brooks


Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Blurb: Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.

But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan … and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

This is actually a pretty good book. I went into it expecting to constantly roll my eyes at hormone-filled teenage romance, and while there definitely was some eye-rolling involved, I still liked it overall.

In In a World Just Right, Brooks takes on an old concept-alternate dimensions- and gives it an interesting twist. Now we have Jonathan, who can create these alternate dimensions and practically lives in them. I found this topic intriguing, as parallel universes are always fun to read about.

Jonathan, I found, was a very likable character, and has quite the tragic backstory: his entire family was killed in a plane crash when he was eight, and now he has a giant scar across his face, lives with his uncle, and is an outcast. I loved reading about his grief for his family and need for acceptance among his peers, but his one big character flaw was his obsession over Kylie. While there are some good snippets of his struggles in this book, Jonathan is mostly just concerned with Kylie, his girlfriend/not girlfriend. Way too much of this book is Jonathan’s internal monologues about Kylie, how much he loves Kylie, how the real Kylie doesn’t notice him, Kylie, Kylie, Kylie. It’s quite irritating to see him drop everything for this girl, even when it’s clear that there are currently things in his life that should take a much higher priority.

What really ticked me off was when Jonathan’s dead sister is somehow miraculously alive and comes back, yet all he cares about is Kylie. He doesn’t spare a second thinking about how his sister might be alive, and goes right back to monologuing about his undying love for Kylie. The mystery of how his sister’s alive was kept a secret so that the ending could be more impactful, but the fact that Jonathan doesn’t question her existence made me so irritated with him, that the ending lost impact anyway.

Kylie, I don’t feel like commenting on all that much. She was the typical “perfect” girl, her actions dictated by the plot.

Throughout most of the book, we are left in the dark on why Jonathan has this unique ability to create worlds. In fact, I thought this book would end up like David Leviathan’s Every Day, where we don’t get answers on the whys of the main character’s condition, but we do in In a World Just Right. And I am so very upset that we do.

The end of this book bombards you with information, a major contrast from the rest of the novel, but this, I have no complaints about. The plot twist is quite interesting, and I did like that aspect, but where I have problems are with the explanation we get for Jonathan’s powers. It’s very science-based, and normally I wouldn’t be upset with that, if it stayed consistent with the rest of the book. The scientific explanation sounds terribly half-hearted and incomplete, especially since the book had more of a contemporary/paranormal feel to most of it. Also, since Brooks had to wait for most of the book before giving us this explanation, it felt like new concepts were introduced too quickly and never elaborated on, leaving all these loose ends.

Overall, In a World Just Right was a pretty good book with quite a few issues. However, I do believe that it’s worth reading, if you’re looking for a cute, but not so deep contemporary romance.