Again Again is a YA contemporary story that takes place over summer and follows our main character Adelaide, a high school girl about to begin her senior year at a private school. Heartbroken and somewhat depressed, she’s spending her summer as a dog walker. Her boyfriend has just unexpectedly dumped her and left the country; she’s failed to turn in a major project for one of her classes, which could cause her to be expelled, all while trying to come to terms with her feelings about her brother’s drug addiction. Over the summer, she encounters some new people, some of whom may or may not become a new love interest.
What’s unique about this book is that certain events in this book are played out in several different multiverses, each resulting in a different outcome. In other words, we see Adelaide’s story play out in a variety of different ways. It’s kind of like seeing her story unfold in parallel universes where there are numerous versions of herself. She makes different decisions in each multiverse, falls in love with different people, and has different conversations about the same topics.
This aspect was unusual, in that it allows us to contemplate the “what ifs” in our lives, and look at how changing one decision or saying something differently could change the outcome. Even the smallest of changes can affect how things turn out.
For instance, we see her have several different versions of a conversation with her professor or modified versions of the same text message thread with a boy she likes. In some versions of the storyline, she suffers enormous setbacks and heartbreaks; in others, she finds happiness with someone different. I especially got a kick of Adelaide’s inner dialog with the dogs that she walks.
Again again is an experimental novel in an unusual format, and because of that, it’s not the kind of story that you can simply kick back and settle into. I actually found that the format pulled me out of the story every time we dipped into the multiverses, which I personally found a tad jarring.
It isn’t easy to discuss the plot, given that there are several different versions of it. But what I found to be the heart of this novel is Adelaide’s complicated relationship with her brother Toby, which was heart-wrenching in places and hopeful in others. In every multiverse, she navigates her feelings about her brother’s situation: anger, regret, mistrust, fear, but with love at the root of it all.
All in all, I enjoyed Again Again though truth be told, I’m personally not a fan of experimental fiction, and as such, I am not the ideal reader for this story. Though I did find the multiverse format unique and creative, I also found it a bit difficult to connect with the characters because of it.
But readers who enjoy experimental novels or multiverse storylines should definitely give Again Again a try as it’s a refreshing take on the contemporary novel. It’s also a story with a lot of depth and many layers, and with a variety of themes such as love, loss, regret, siblings, heartbreak, family dynamics, addiction, self-esteem, the interconnectedness of things, and how even the smallest of choices can have huge repercussions.
Thank you to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for providing a free advanced e-copy of the book.