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Book Review: For Never and Always, by Ana J. Phoenix

For Never and Always - Ana J. Phoenix

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Seth finds himself alone at an abandoned train station, with no idea what happened, or how he got there. He boards a train, only to discover it’s a special express transporting the recently deceased to their final destination. The conductor tells him he’s having a near-death experience. Seth wonders if it has something to do with his violent boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the hell off the train before he actually dies. But when he spots his best friend and secret crush among the traveling dead, the urge to leave fades…

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Book – For Never and Always

Author – Ana J. Phoenix

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 170

Movie Potential – ★★★★ – P.S. This would make a kick-ass movie

Ease of reading – very easy to read and get lost in.

Would I read it again – YES! YES! YES!

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

WARNING: Whatever you do, do NOT and I repeat, do not read this book! Ever. Not ever. Not without a mountain of tissues, the privacy to ugly cry and a certainly not before bed, when you’re going to be up all night thinking about this horrible, cruel story that I will never forget!

TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, domestic abuse, suicide, cancer, death.

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This is my first story by Ana and I was warned beforehand that it was a tearjerker. That’s kind of why I chose to review it. I’m a sucker for a weepy and this was that ten times over.

I’m going to apologise now if nothing I say makes sense or if I ramble a little. It’s not my fault. Really it’s not. I literally just finished binge-reading this book and all 170 pages were fantastic. Utter perfection. There wasn’t one moment where I stopped to think that the plot was going the wrong direction or that I couldn’t read anymore.

It was hard. Really hard. The author tackled some pretty heavy topics that weren’t easy to read – rape, domestic abuse, gang-rape, domestic rape, cancer and suicide. They weren’t just skimmed over either. Thankfully, though one of the rape scenes was on page, it was mercifully treated, so that we didn’t really register the brutality over the mental torture. It was hard to read, but all the issues were treated with great respect.

Right off the bat, the story had a strong start. I was intrigued by this original concept and curious as to how it might progress. A train with compartments – cabins, baggage and a library – that transported people through various stations and gave them time to come to terms with their death was brilliant. Not just the idea, but the execution. The library in particular, of letters both sent and unsent, including e-mails, texts and scribbled notes, absolutely broke my heart. It genuinely made me think of those typed but never posted Facebook status’ that we all write to vent our feelings, but never post because we think it would sound silly or be taken the wrong way. Even now, the very thought makes me kind of speechless. It’s something we all do, but I’ve never stopped to wonder what they might say if I had a book of my own to read.

When Carter and Seth met so quickly, within the first 5% of the book, I was surprised. But it worked in the long term; it made for a journey, both in their relationship, friendship and within their overall train journey. Both characters were incredible – Carter, the skeptic and Seth, the believer – yet they complimented each other in how different they were. Both had sad stories, but their friendship from childhood never faltered, even through all the fights, the misunderstandings and all the secrets they reveal to each other on the train.

In terms of the plot, I’m going to be brutal and just do bullet points, because I can hardly think straight after the emotional rollercoaster I’ve just been on.

Good things – a dual POV, so that we see Carter and Seth’s lives. The overall plot and execution, as well as the attention to detail and the side characters, that helped each main character grow or learn.

Bad things – there are quite a few backwards quotation marks, a few repeat/missing words, commas outside of quotation marks. The formatting was a little wobbly, with scenes/POV’s separated at first with the age old scene dividers *** then later separated by a single line space and the first line of the paragraph in all caps. It’s a little inconsistent.

Personally, not one of these ‘bad things’ mattered. Not when you have a story this fulfilling. I can’t even tell you the best parts about this book, because that would be unfair. It’s not a book you pick up lightly and read a few chapters of, in between doing other things.

This is an experience. And it broke my heart.

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FAVOURITE QUOTES

““You know, I’m glad I’m not leaving anyone behind.”

What about me? Seth shoved the thought aside before he could voice it.”

““It’s like sometimes I want him to get mad. Like, really mad.” Because once Tony had flown off the handle, things were better for a while. Like doing a system reset. Forcing a reboot. Hoping that it would last this time.”

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