Title: WHAT IF
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
A new novel by the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Breathing Series . . .
What if you had a second chance to meet someone for the first time?
Cal Logan is shocked to see Nicole Bentley sitting across from him at a coffee shop thousands of miles from their hometown. After all, no one has seen or heard from her since they graduated over a year ago.
Except this girl isn't Nicole.
She looks exactly like Cal's shy childhood crush, but her name is Nyelle Preston and she has no idea who he is. This girl is impulsive and daring, her passion for life infectious. The complete opposite of Nicole. Cal finds himself utterly fascinated-and falling hard. But Nyelle is also extremely secretive. And the closer he comes to finding out what she's hiding, the less he wants to know.
When the secrets from the past and present collide, one thing becomes clear: Nothing is what it seems.
This is actually the first book that I’ve ever read coming from Rebecca Donovan, so I really don’t know what to expect towards her writing style and just on how she tackles things as an author. I stumbled upon What If through that amazing promotional video that they did with lots of authors telling us their “What Ifs” in life. That video definitely caught my attention. I was like, “What’s happening in here? What’s the fuss all about?” and later on learning that it’s actually for a book’s promo. I immediately looked up What If over Goodreads, read its synopsis *Hmmm, intriguing* and added it up on my TBR list.
The main plot of the story goes like this. After years of not communicating with each other and nobody seeing her since graduation, Cal Logan is shocked to see his childhood crush, Nicole Bentley, sitting across him at a coffee shop. He swears that this girl is Nicole. Everything about her screams Nicole. So how come that this girl showed no sign of recognition of him? But that thing got answered immediately when “Nicole” introduced herself as Nyelle Preston. What?
Cal’s sure that something’s shady about this girl and he plans to unravel this mysterious cloak that covers up Nyelle. As he spent more time with Nyelle’s company, he noticed that the girl he’s with is completely the opposite of how he’s childhood crush is. What happened and where is the “real” Nicole? Could Nyelle Preston possibly be the Nicole Bentley from his childhood years? Is he right of thinking that kind of thing? But if she’s now this Nyelle Preston, what drove her into changing herself to the complete opposite of her old self? If ever, is he ready to know everything behind this huge change?
What If is written from Cal’s POV and being narrated in the present time. But before every chapter begins there are inserts which were told from different POVs and are snippets from the past. That was a clever move, though. In the story, we see the characters go through their “what ifs”, “What if they did this instead of that? What if they didn’t?”. There were definitely regrets, especially on Cal’s end, because they could’ve avoided loads of things if he was just a little bit more sensitive towards the people that surrounds him and really minded of the things going on.
Oh my goodness! This book made me go crazy! My mind was working overtime figuring things out and I formed a lot of theories in my head. I love when books make me come up with silly theories and just make me think about the possibilities. I love it when I get unsure of myself and I don’t get to see what’s about to happen way way before the climax of the story. And oh the inserts will try to mess up with your theories and you’ll probably be thinking about weird stuff, like with what I came up with: “Maybe she had a surgery or whatever?” Such a ridiculous one but once you read this book, it feels like everything is a possibility. The inserts leaves a trail of clues and will certainly make sense the further you read into the chapters of the book.
Heh. Though, I have this teeny tiny bit issue with the climax and revelation part of the book. I just got a little bit disappointed that “that” particular scene didn’t come across as powerful as I’ve imagined it would be. I would’ve loved it if there’s this added punch to it. Yes, there’s a shock value for the revelation but it feels a bit rushed.
The characters in this book were flawed ones. Cal tends to be very passive. He let things happen when they’re supposed to happen instead of taking chances and risking something. Some parts I agree with him for taking everything slowly or easing Nyelle in but there were times that it just dragged for too long. But, I liked Cal’s character for being really concerned with Nyelle’s welfare. He takes everything into account and he has the best intentions towards her. He accepted Nyelle into his life and his heart openly.
Nyelle Preston’s character, oh what a weird and fun one! She’s spontaneous and adventurous, I love her for that. She also followed her heart and opted to show people who she really wanted to be. Not the version that her parents wanted her to be. It took some guts to do that. But there’s a part wherein I got really worried about her because of her “reason” and the actions that she took. The combining thing? I was like, wait wow. She’s really troubled. Good thing it got dealt with in the last pages of the book.
Thank goodness for Rae’s character! I love her for constantly hounding Cal with the progress of his “finding out” mission. I don’t know if we’ll have progress, if Rae’s character wasn’t present in this story. There are other characters in this story: Richelle, Eric, Tess and the parents. Every single one of them affects the entire story and the characters in a different way. You’ll definitely have to look forward to that.
What If is a book that highlights the power of friendship and love, that it has the power to change you. It’s also a story that’ll make you realize that you can be more than who you are right now and that you’ll just have to find that courage to break free from those confinements that people put around us. They may react to be disappointed towards these changes, if there are, but then we always need to think of ourselves. Of our happiness. If that’s what makes us happy, then we should go for it. Lastly, this book makes us realize about the What Ifs in our lives and that every action and decision we make in our lives affects everything in it, even the simplest actions and words that comes out of our mouth. Our actions not only just create an impact towards ourselves but towards the people we love/care about.