I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
Series: Off the Map, #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on 2014-08-05
Length: 384 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found
Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.
Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.
Upside Down by Lia Riley is the first in a new adult contemporary series about a girl trying to make a new life for herself and a boy running from his past. It’s sweet, laugh out loud funny, and yes even brought tears to my eyes. If you’re looking for a light, easy read this is it!
I loved Talia, although I didn’t think I would at first. She’s this good girl from SoCal who has really lost her way. Her sister is dead, her dad has checked out, her mom is drinking her life away on the beaches in Hawaii, and she’s flunking college. Basically her life sucks, add to that an OCD diagnosis and you have our Talia. She’s high strung, super smart, and one step away from snapping and losing her mind. But can you really blame her?! Her life in the last two years has literally crumbled around her so like any sensible person she gets the heck out of there. In her own words she heads for “Tomorrowland” aka Australia.
Then there’s Bran ❤️ I adore Bran but he also had to grow on me. He’s rude, crass, and just in general an all-around jerk to Talia when she first enters his life. But our Bran has a crappy past as well one that I will not spoil. You must read and experience it first hand as I did. Trust me you’ll love him!!
The relationship between Bran and Talia is volatile to say the least simply because neither of them want to admit feelings for the other and risk getting their hearts broken. To say the book is full of irony and angst would be an understatement. Riley does an amazing job of writing the characters in such a way that you really can’t pick a side. I saw both their points and empathized with them throughout the book.
I was a little disappointed in the character development though. Don’t get me wrong. Bran and Talia are fully developed and I expect to meet them one day in the future 😉 it’s the other minor characters that got to me. There’s a lot of minor characters who enter Talia and Bran’s day-to-day life but they are just mentioned in passing or only seen at face value. I would’ve liked to see more than just the two main characters developed. Hence the reason for four stars instead of five.
Overall as the first book in this series goes it is fantastic! I’ve already bought the next two and can’t wait to devour them.
Final Conclusion: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“A few meters more, you’re almost there.”
It’s like we’re at the end of some old-school adventure tale, one where the heroes are stoic even as the blizzard rages, avalanches fall, and death hovers like a benevolent ghost.
Well, Bran is the hero.
I’m like one of the minor sidekicks who goes down during some important turning point. My death might even inspire the hero on his journey or teach him a valuable lesson. But at this point in the flick, the minor sidekick should be well and truly dead. Not white-knuckling a column of dolerite rock, thighs gripping the stone like it’s the world’s best lover.
“That’s it, Talia,” Bran’s voice is encouraging. “You’re holding tight, that’s great. Now, I’m going to need you to release your left hand and reach up a few inches to grab the next hold.”
I grit my teeth. The way he talks, you’d think I’m scaling Everest. Or at least Kilimanjaro. Instead—
“’Scuse, us, we’ll be by in a tic. That’s the way, Andy, right around the lady.”
I’m the lady. Andy is a kid who doesn’t look a day over seven who scrambles past me in a flurry of Spider-Man shoes and gap-toothed smiles. His parents bring up the rear, smiling up at their wild monkey child with obvious pride.
And they aren’t the first group to pass me.
Five Swedish women, a couple, and a guy who looked to be in his mid-seventies have also shot past me during the course of the last quarter hour.
The top is so close I can taste it. Bran is being nothing but encouraging, but below me is a twenty-foot drop. Not enough to kill me, unless I fall with some sort of suicidal intent, but enough to make me feel incredibly uneasy about the boulder field.
Bran eases toward me. “Talia, take my hand.”
“Can’t let go.”
“No.” This is it; this is the reason. Bran isn’t going to admit it here, while I’m bordering on a panic attack on a trail being conquered by elementary school children and senior citizens, but there’s no doubt this is A REASON to lose interest in me. I’m giving him a big capital-lettered reason, but I can’t stop. I physically can’t let go.
“Talia. Take a deep breath.”
“Give me your hand, no bullshit. I want your fingers in mine. You’ll be safe. I’m going to keep you safe. I need you to trust me.”
Somehow I do it. I give him my fingers. He assists me up. We’re doing this together. My head clears the boulder and I can see the steel marker that identifies the summit ahead. Holy shit, he’s right. I’m going to reach the top.
A few more steps, easy now, and we’re there. The kid in the Spider-Man shoes munches a Vegemite sandwich. I want to scoop him up in a smooshy squeeze. Except his parents would likely object, so I switch gears to give Bran a long and passionate kiss.
“I knew you’d get here,” he says.
He turns me to see the view, his hands tight around my waist. “Your place is here, Captain, in the sun,” he whispers in my ear. “Don’t ever forget that.”
The publisher has a giveaway going on right now in honor or the print-release of Upside Down.
- one grand prize of $10 Amazon GC, signed copy of the book, and other Off the Map goodies
- 10 prize packs with a copy of the book and other Off the Map goodies
Click below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway