It’s a brand new year, and I really wanted the first book I read in 2024 to set a high bar. Never Ever Forever is the new novel from the author of Duck a l’Orange For Breakfast, kindly sent to me for review by the wonderful team at Macmillan, and it seemed like a strong contender.
The story is initially set between Sydney (my home city) and Mudgee (a regional town that I visited recently and loved). It follows Rosie, a twenty-something at a bit of a cross-roads in her life, starting a new career in breakfast radio and trying to shake the last vestiges of feeling for her high-school sweetheart by swiping Tinder.
Unfortunately, Never Ever Forever quickly runs off the rails. The opening chapters are crushed under the weight of exposition. The dialogue is unrealistic, sometimes with hilarious results (I snorted when a character unironically used the phrase ‘stud muffin’). It really reads like a book about twenty-somethings written for 50+ year olds (i.e., bears little resemblance to anything a twenty-something would recognise in their own lives).
I loved the Mudgee setting, and the adorable cat named Squash, so I struggled valiantly to keep an open mind… but, honestly, Never Ever Forever had lost me long before the characters made it to “vibrant, chaotic India”. The pacing is uneven, the character motivations are flimsy, and Rosie gives off a lot of “not like other girls” vibes. Then, there’s a “twist” that I suspected 100 pages in but mentally wrote off as too ridiculous – when it actually played out on the page, I had to put the book down for a minute to catch my breath.
I also must give a trigger warning for the use of the term “he-vage” to describe a man’s chest. (Rhymes with cleavage. Just… ugh.)
Never Ever Forever might be a great read for an older audience, or readers who aren’t sticklers for dialogue that sounds like something a human would actually say – unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.
Buy Never Ever Forever on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)