Jim Bernheimer's Reviews > Never Eighteen

Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic
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Mar 22, 2012

really liked it
Read in February, 2012

Megan Bostic's debut novel, Never Eighteen - a slim 204 page book targeting the upper end of the Young Adult audience. I selected this as one of my Amazon Vines picks because I've known Megan online since we met during one of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contests a few years back. A long ways back she was kind enough to review my first novel and I was eager to return the favor.

Okay, let's talk about Never Eighteen. It's the story of Austin Parker's moment of truth told in the first person. He faces his terminal disease with dignity and stoicism and wants to leave no stone unturned in his relationships with the people in his life and reminds me of the Michael Keaton movie from the early 90's called My Life. I'm going to give this four and ½ stars.

The positives greatly outweigh the negatives. One of the things that struck me with Megan's style was how concise and compact her writing can be. That's how you can tell three hundred pages of story in only two hundred. The ability to convey a story quickly and give the readers a few paragraphs of backstory about the person that Austin is speaking with and allow their minds to fill in the blanks makes for a much richer story than the page count implies. There's some language, substance abuse, and so forth, I wouldn't recommend it for the younger teen set.

Austin's characterization is solid. His experiences and the challenges he faces will generate empathy from the reader. A slight knock here would be to say he's a little too perfect and I didn't see enough of his flaws show through. Kaylee is entertaining and well portrayed. Seen through Austin's she is also pretty much flawless. The same can't be said for the rest of the cast.

The plot essentially crams a TV season of a high school drama into a weekend. It clips along at a rapid pace covering all the things you should expect from substance abuse, lifestyle choices, mistakes, loss and the inability to deal with those losses. The author walks a fine line and manages to keep the tone lighthearted despite the underlying depressive nature of the story.

In conclusion, the author has given us a tightly written narrative with main characters that keep the reader's interest. The secondary characters are a bit thin, but all in all it's a very entertaining Young Adult offering with not a single vampire, demon or werewolf in sight.
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