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Upside Down

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Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But when he realizes adding the label ‘asexual’ might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.

Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.

A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.

258 pages, Paperback

First published March 21, 2019

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About the author

N.R. Walker

116 books4,469 followers
Author also writes as A. Voyeur

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn't have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things...but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since...


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 834 reviews
Profile Image for Renée.
1,058 reviews331 followers
March 26, 2019
I so wanted to love this book. But.....

Well, let's start with what I really liked - the way the ace spectrum was represented. I learned more details of the ace community and how much they often internalize all of society's "normal behavior" than any other book I've read. And I really, really enjoyed that. One of my GR friends was posting updates about how much this book resonated with her, and how she seemed to finally find a book "about her". I love that! I was giddy for her!

This book needed to be written.

Just maybe not like this story, though. For me. And it all came down to the MC, Jordan.

He was so annoying and immature. He was a random blurter. His blurtings would go on and on. And on. And on. And none of them were funny. Or clever. Just annoying. If I met someone like him IRL, I'd run screaming.

Well, maybe walk briskly. But still. I can't take personalities like that. Not IRL, and not in my romance books.

On top of my intense dislike for Jordan's personality, Walker did something in this book that is so god-awful. She gave us THE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING.


I just can't with that.

It pains me, because I love this author. She's an autobuy for me.

But this book? Nuh uh.

High five on the ace information though. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,503 reviews251 followers
June 13, 2023
Original review:
"Because it can be life-affirming and scary as hell, all at the same time."

When I first realized I was asexual I was 24 years old and had never been in a relationship with another person (I still haven't) and for years I thought I was broken. I thought there was something wrong with me that I didn't want what my friends wanted, and even when I did think I had a crush, I still don't know if I actually felt that way or if I was just performing the way society told me I should. I am grateful for the fact that I never felt pressured into a relationship or encounter I didn't want as many asexuals do. I first came out as bi, because I thought that since I didn't really like guys that much I must like girls. But while that felt moderately better, it still wasn't right. I first heard the word aromantic and when I really started to research asexuality the more that term made sense to me. It was life-affirming and scary as hell. I was absolutely terrified about what that meant for me and my future. But at the same time I found a place that I fit, that I truly felt connected to and seen in a way I had never before been.

I have now read multiple books with ace rep but none of them had the visceral emotional impact that this one did. Most of the ace rep I've read has either been YA or featured characters who had always known they were ace. Which is why Jordan finally figuring it out at age 26 was revolutionary for me. I've never seen a character with who I so closely align. He is nerdy, obsessed with books, enjoys romance, kind of a rambling fool most of the time, and anxious as all get out. I love him. Then we have Hennessy, who I mean is also a wonderfully complex and well crafted character. I can't remember if his age is given, but he has his own baggage but runs an asexual and aromantic support group (which if we can talk about how amazing that very idea is). I am still shaky thinking about how cool it would be to be in a room with others on the a-spectrum in real life.

This book does many many things right. First and foremost the asexual rep is all encompassing and welcoming. The ace community is truly one of the most welcoming places I've ever experiences and because being asexual and aromantic can be complex and varied, each and every ace is different. No two stories are the same and no two experiences will be the same. Some aces experience desire and have sex, while others are sex repulsed, and everything in between. Jordan and Hennessy both are sex positive (meaning they don't mind sex in media, books, or others) but don't want to have sex themselves. They do both experience romantic attraction and desire a romantic relationship without a sexual component.

Let's chat super quick about being in a relationship with someone who is asexual or aromantic. Communication is vital and understanding what the other person wants and needs are essential to a successful relationship. For this reason, many aces have traumatic histories with allos and seek a relationship with another ace. That is the case in this particular story. Not all aces want a relationship at all and that is also valid.

The way asexuality is discussed is done so well and so completely without being preachy. The support group is a great setting to discuss the complicated facets of asexuality without reading like a nonfiction book. There were so many moments that I hadn't read those words within a fiction book and had to sit with the feeling of being seen for a minute. I cried many times throughout, but they weren't sad tears, they were tears from finally being acknowledged as valid and perfect the way I am. It's a powerful feeling and not one I can quite explain with words. Just know that if you identify on the aspec you need to read this book. I think allos should also read it but it is an absolutely necessary piece of fiction for aces and aros.

This is 100% a character driven story and the way Jordan and Hennessy's relationship evolves is precious. I had a stupid grin on my face for so many parts because it was just too cute (and I knew there wasn't going to be a big sex scene). I've seen critiques of Jordan's character being too awkward and bumbling, but I loved that about him. I'm a sucker for flawed characters and I'd much rather have a character who is so nervous they ramble about random things vs someone who articulated everything perfectly. It adds complexity and I'm here for it.

I still feel like this review doesn't do this book justice because I just don't know how to explain how valuable and essential this story and characters is to my very being. I needed this book and these words. I needed to see an ace character come out in their twenties and struggle and celebrate at the same time.

This book also has lesbian, bisexual, and poly (marriage with a third) representation in addition to asexual and aromantic.

In summary: It's great and wonderful and precious and you should read it.

Original Thoughts immediately after finishing:
I don't know what to say that could possible sum up how much I love this book and how necessary it is. I've read quite a bit of ace rep by now, but I think this one may be my favorite. I love contemporary books and character driven stories and that's what this is.

Every asexual's experience is different and we all have different wants and needs regarding romance and sex. I haven't yet read a book with a MC who is 26 and coming out as ace and that felt like a huge deal for me. It mirrored some of my own experiences and while I'm still very different from Jordan, I do feel connected to his character in a way I don't often feel.

Reread December 2022

Reread October 2022 take two

Reread October 2022

Reread August 2022

Reread June 2022
Happy Upside Down Anniversary to me and my 34th read of this gem 🎉

Reread April 2022
Typically when I do my rereads of this I spend an afternoon listening to it and falling in love all over again but this time I stretched it out over five or six days and listened to a little bit here and there and it was so soothing. This book literally heals my soul every time I listen to it and stretching it out and consuming just bits at a time were like little itty bitty hugs and words of comfort. Sometimes when I reread I kind of forget what I'm doing and miss sections of the story because I've listened so many times but by doing it this way I was able to really connect with each part of it in the you know 20 or 30 minute spans of time. If you haven't read this book yet please do so.

Reread #2 for February 2022
Well this healed my soul. I just finished a really terrible book and I needed a book that I know I would love and this did the trick. God I love this book so much.

Reread February 2022
Perfect as always.

Reread January 2022
Did I literally just read this book on the last day if 2021? Yes. Did I also listen to the audio while organizing my 2021 wrap up books? Also yes. Maybe this will be a new tradition of reading it during the first and last months of the year. Scroll way down for my original long raving rambling review. Pretty sure this is the 30th time I've read this one. It's obviously a favorite 😂

Reread December 2021
With a few minutes to midnight it's only fitting that this was my final read of 2021. I adore this book with my entire being and have thoroughly enjoyed my monthly rereads. I don't know that I will be able to read this monthly next year but will definitely relistening at least a few times.

Reread November 2021

Reread October 2021
I've read this book enough times now that I am VERY familiar with just about every page. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone and while I love it with my entire soul, I'd be remiss to say that it's perfect. It's not and today I want to take a couple moments to point out some issues.
-most obvious is the the HP reference. It's one moment but its one moment too many.
-lack of arospec rep and information. This book is based on an aro and ace support group yet not a single member was arospec? that doesn't seem cool. It's like the author wanted to include aro but then either didn't have the knowledge to actually include an aro character or did it just for clout, neither of which are acceptable.
-not a problematic moment but the pacing is off on the first week of bus dates and it drives me nuts every time. There's 6 days but it's only supposed to be mon-fri.
-one strange moment about "finding your tribe" this seems like indigenous cultural appropriation to me and just rubs me wrong each time. This phrase could also hold different meanings in Australia vs the US so it could be my own biases.

Reread September 2021

Reread #? August 2021
I was just thinking this morning that this was going to be the first month that I wasn't going to have an upside down reread, but then I hit a snag in my other audiobook and just could not get my brain to connect to it, and so I ended up just taking a little breather and slowing down my audio speed and thoroughly enjoying my most recent reread of this gem. I love this book so much and I know I talk about it a lot, but it is the perfect fluffy saccharine asexual romance that requires no thoughts only love and it's just wonderfully relaxing to listen to. It does always amaze me that even though I've read this book now 20 plus times I still get emotional during Jordan's initial ace revelation and during that end scene. It just hits hard.

I've reached the point where I listen to this audio as someone else would a favorite playlist. It plays in the background and I still know all the words and exactly what is happening, but I'm also doing other things. But I'm still invested in it and feel all the feels. It's the ultimate comfort read for me.

First reread of 2021 and I am irrationally, ridiculously happy.

Reread #????
Oh look, this book is still my favorite comfort read 🖤
Profile Image for Josy.
973 reviews3 followers
June 6, 2019
All the motherfucking stars!!!

It's been a few days since I finished this book and I am still not sure how to adequately describe how much reading this book means to me. I was thinking about what to say because I kinda need this review to be perfect to express my gratitude to NR Walker for writing this book and for putting herself out there.

First, though, for all the readers who need to have sex included in their books, I want to stress that you won't find that in this book. While there are ace people who engage in sexual activities for various reasons and while both these guys are sex-positive (meaning they aren't repulsed by reading/talking/thinking/etc. about sex), they aren't interested in having sex themselves. Instead, they enjoy holding hands, kissing, and cuddling. And it's so, so perfect!

I believe lots of people (who don't identify as ace or who haven't researched asexuality) don't have much of an idea of what being ace actually means or what prejudices, challenges, internal struggles, and yes - even danger - ace people face in our oversexualized society, while coming to terms with being ace, or while trying to make a romantic relationship work.

This book provides a lot of information without ever coming across as preachy and it gives people who think they might be on the ace spectrum or people who are interested in learning more about asexuality a good starting point to begin their research.

For most of my adult life, I felt broken and abnormal. Because who doesn't want to have sex, right? I went to doctors to have my hormone level checked and to a psychologist to see if there was something wrong with me. I almost lost my allosexual partner of 20 years because how do you explain to someone that you aren't interested in sex after having gone through with it for years because it was 'expected' and normal to do?

It wasn't until I read TJ Klune's 'How to be a Normal Person' that I heard about asexuality and wow! Did this book change my life for the better because I realized
"... how hard I'd been trying to be normal, when my normal was here all along." and that "I really am asexual and it hit me like a metric fuckton of bricks that there's actually nothing wrong with me."

And now I can add another book to my life-changing experiences because even though I've read other books with asexual characters, this was the very first time I felt like an author took my feelings and experiences and put them into words for the world to read. And damn if this didn't make me feel validated and real! Let me tell you, I had no freakin' idea how much I needed that! This took me entirely by surprise and made reading this book an emotional roller coaster for me because I didn't expect "to feel so lost... and found" . I felt like I was reading part of my story and I can't really describe what this did to me. Let's just say I was happy and smiling most of the time but also a crying mess because there were so, so many scenes I recognized myself in and reliving them was beautiful but also very emotional for me.

I know some people will say that Jordan is annoying and I realize that I may be biased but I laughed so many times about his ramblings and his antics. I really enjoyed reading about this cute, socially awkward guy who has absolutely no filter when he gets nervous.

I also need to say that while I usually don't like the 'big misunderstanding' as a plot point, here it was relatable and in character with who Jordan was.
Jordan was just coming to terms with his asexuality and hadn't yet learned much about what this might entail. He was freaking out and scared as hell of losing the best thing that has happened in his life. If you think finding a partner and making a relationship work is hard, try imagining how much harder it is when you are asexual. Having found someone who accepts you for who you are, who is okay with you not ever wanting to have sex, and then maybe losing that someone because of something you have no control over can be devastating. And I can relate to this because I was the same. Instead of talking to my partner about not wanting to engage in sexual activities any longer I shut down, retreated into myself, and pushed my partner away. Stupid? Yes. Immature? Maybe. But I didn't have the words or the knowledge to understand what was going on with me. How was I supposed to make my partner understand? It takes some time and learning to realize that
"Sex doesn't equal love." That "sexual physicality is not the finish line" and "being sexually intimate with someone is not the only expression of our emotions."

Anyway, I got why this misunderstanding happened and I'm very happy that it all worked out in the end.

I think I already made it clear that I loved this book but that's not only because of the impact it had on me. I can honestly say that there was absolutely nothing I didn't like. Both MCs were adorable, their romance was cute as hell and emotionally rewarding, their short bus rides were funny and lovely, the shy smiles and sweet kisses made me weak in the knees, their best friends were great, and let's not forget the Soup Crew! Most awesome strangers ever, lol! I loved how both guys slowly got to know each other and I totally felt their growing emotional connection. The epilogue was the BEST and made me cry happy tears.

If you love a sweet romance, adorable MCs (one of them with no filter whatsoever), laugh-out-loud and Awwwww moments, coupled with awesome secondary characters, then you need to read this book! And even though I want everyone to like this story, I know tastes are different and I'll still be your friend even if you don't love it as much as I did. Maybe ;)


OMG!! I'm going to read this book asap!! I trust NR Walker to write good ace-rep and I'm really excited about this book!
Profile Image for Diana.
551 reviews18 followers
June 25, 2022
Reread 6/25/22-still a 5 star read for me.

I loved this book so much, I just didn’t want it to end! Upside Down is about two gay asexual men, trying to navigate a relationship. Jordan is OTT, geeky librarian who meets his total opposite, Hennessey, and they fit perfectly together. Hennessey is really sweet and crazy about Jordan. Of course, crazy Jordan keeps Hennessey on his toes and a smile on his face.

If you are looking for something sugary sweet with no angst, this is it. Upside Down will most likely be one of those books that I will read over and over!
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,869 reviews693 followers
May 31, 2021
This will be a new comfort read for me, I can already tell. It was such a validating, warm hug. And when Hennessy told Jordan "you're just as asexual as you need to be" I cried so hard I had to put the book down.
Profile Image for Meags.
2,178 reviews414 followers
September 25, 2022
3.5 Stars

In this Aussie-set story, we get to follow very sweet and very quirky Jordan O’Neill as he come to terms with his asexuality, all while falling in love with a man named Hennessey, who Jordan’s been dreamily watching from afar on his nightly bus commute home from work, and who, as fate would have it, runs the new support group for asexual people that Jordan begins to attend.

This story was super sweet and charming, with very little in the way of angst and conflict. The little slice of miscommunication and panic we do see towards the end is brief and fleeting, remaining consistently light and even humorous throughout.

I liked the story well enough and I found the progression of Jordan and Hennessey’s relationship to be very natural and heartening, but for me there was just something missing that stopped this from being particularly engaging or memorable. And before anyone wonders, my issues had nothing to do with the asexual nature of the characters and their relationship, rather, my attention simply wasn’t captured fully, to the point that I found myself losing focus and having to re-read/re-listen to segments of the story because my mind had wandered.

To be clear, this is not my usual reaction to Walker’s stories, but I guess we can’t adore every single thing our favourite authors write, and that’s perfectly fine. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this story, I simply didn’t love it the way I expected to, based on the author at hand.

What I did enjoy were the secondary characters, especially Jordan’s besties, Merry and Angus, who stole nearly every scene they shared with Jordan. Even the smaller characters left an impact, particularly those played by the group of rapt bus patrons who followed the blossoming of Jordan and Hennessey’s bus-time interactions with great interest and delight. All of these characters made for a better story, which I very much appreciated.

Overall, if you’re looking for something on the lighter side, this might be just the story to pick you up – and don’t we all need a pick me up in these trying times!?


Audio Edition:

Hands down, my favourite part of this reading experience was in listening to the audiobook, narrated by Glen Lloyd. What did I love about him, you may ask? Well, the fact that he’s an actual Aussie voice-actor, narrating an Aussie story with Aussie characters, certainly made him a league better than all the non-Aussie narrators I can no longer handle listening to with their fake, over-the-top accents. For me, as an Aussie, I was ecstatic to finally come across Glen Lloyd, enjoying how perfectly he inhabited these characters and brought them to life. I’m now crossing my fingers and toes that he gets hired to narrate many more Australian-set M/M stories in the near future!
Profile Image for Mindy.
169 reviews
March 26, 2019
I waned to like this book. I love N.R. Walker. It just......

I could not stand Jordan. I would skip most of his rambling. I thought he was very immature and didn't find him funny. The beginning of the book was good, but got old fast.

What I did like was that I learned more about ASEXUAL. I would love to read more books with MC that are asexual.
Profile Image for BWT.
2,171 reviews222 followers
March 17, 2019
What I loved: the characters (main, secondary, and tertiary), the subject, and the way N.R. Walker integrates information about asexuality without making it preachy. The internal struggle Jordan has is intimately familiar and really well done, realistic, and relatable.

There's very little tension or angst, and there is nothing more sexual than hugs and kisses, and I found all of it perfect for the characters and story. The only thing I didn't like was the pacing, which I found to be a bit too slow, but overall it just made my heart happy and it makes me hope and long for even more Ace positive stories.

Dual POV, super sweet romance, with very little tension or angst, a lot of Ace positivity, a couple of twists, and a very happy ending.


3.75 Stars

Advanced Review Galley copy of Upside Down provided by N.R. Walker in exchange of an honest review.

This review has been cross-posted at Gay Book Reviews.
Profile Image for MishyJo.
160 reviews61 followers
August 25, 2019
3 stars Too much lecturing about the subtleties, nuances, and struggles of being asexual. It detracted from what could have been a powerful message wrapped around an entertaining story. Instead it became a little like a preachy after school special.
Profile Image for Sandra .
1,770 reviews316 followers
March 22, 2019
First of all, everyone should have an Angus and a Merry and a Michael. Those three are the very best friends a person could ever ask for, and even though they are fictional, they totally felt real. To me.

Where do I even start with this book?

It's funny. Laugh out loud funny in parts, small chuckle funny in others, and giggle-snorts funny in yet other parts. Jordan is a hoot. Zero filter, blurts out whatever comes to his mind, and loves the word fuck in all its many variations.

It's about self-discovery, about learning and accepting who you truly are, and realizing that normal is fucking overrated and that the world's definition of normal is skewed anyway. I absolutely loved how respectfully and realistically the author wrote two ace characters, neither of whom wants to have any kind of sex, who only want kisses and cuddles, and gave her readers tons of useful and clear information about what it means to be ace without ever going into preacher mode.

It's a little angsty, primarily because Jordan is coming to terms with his realization that yes, he's ace, and yes, he's maybe, possibly, for sure, falling for Headphones Guy, who's also ace, and goddamn motherfucker, he sure as fuck doesn't need or want another label, OMG.

It's a little angsty because Hennessy is still struggling with giving his heart away again, when he's only just now gotten over the heartbreak of his previous relationship with a guy who wanted and needed more than Hennessy was able to give. He is very upfront about his needs and his expectations for a relationship, and very clear that there will be no sex at all, but kisses and cuddles are awesome, and yes, please.

Obviously, because both Jordan and Hennessy are ace, there is zero sex in this book, but there are amazing kisses and full body cuddles, and watching movies while lying on the couch, and talking about books and meeting each other's friends, and being amazed at the soup crew on the bus who are all invested in the growing relationship between Hennessy and Jordan.

And then there's a very short period during which Jordan freaks the fuck out and bails, and almost ghosts on Hennessy. I'm only telling you so you're not hit with that out of left field like I was and so you don't have that momentary panic attack like I did because JmotherfuckingC, everything was going so well, and then the author hit me with that. NO BUENO. But I forgive you, NR Walker, I do, because when I thought about it for a while, it became clear that this needed to happen so Jordan could understand... well, you know what I'm talking about.

This is a heartwarming, charming, sweet, LOL-funny, and thoughtful book, and it made me swoon and awwww and giggle and sniffle, and motherfucker, it was perfect. Also, it's a small fucking world, don't you know?


** I was blessed with a free copy of this book by its author (THANK YOU). A review was not promised in return. **
Profile Image for Chris.
2,069 reviews
March 24, 2019
This was absolutely lovely... a beautiful host of friendships, love and loyalty. The romance was sweet and pure and really celebrated the asexual story. Beautifully written and so much fun. Loved it
Profile Image for Bookreader87(Amanda).
996 reviews32 followers
January 24, 2023
3.5 STARS for narrator and story.

Too motherfucking adorable 😍

Jordan: A librarian who goes on rambling tangents when nervous is discovering his asexuality. Afraid of putting another label on himself he struggles with his sexual identity. That is until his friend Merry, like the hobbit, takes him to a support group.
Hennessey, like the cognac: is an asexual internet ninja. After breaking up with his last boyfriend, six months ago, runs a support group to help people similar to him. He wants to help people understand that there is nothing wrong with being asexual.
These two officially meet at the meeting where Hennessy helps Jordan bring light and understanding to his identity.
This story was too cute. These two were adorable. I loved their relationship.
Jordan initially spots Hennessy aka headphone guy on the bus. Being too shy he never speaks to him. However, after officially meeting him at the support group they start talking spending 5 minutes each day on the bus getting to know one another. These 5 minutes help build their relationship where eventually it becomes more than friendship.
I loved that they are surrounded by a great group of people who have their best interest at heart.
The side characters are amazing. Here they added humor to the story. The soup crew: who are the passengers riding along on their bus route. Rooting the two of them on. Merry: Jordan's coworker and best friend. She can be cynical but she also knows how to be serious and knock sense into Jordan when needed. Angus: Jordan's flat mate and best friend wants Jordan to be happy. Michael: Hennessy's best friend and boss only wants with best for his friend. Just a fun loving group of side characters.
For me, NR Walker did it again. This is another one to add to my motherfucking favorites😁
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,242 reviews78 followers
July 27, 2019
Wow, this was great! Hennessey and Jordan are adorable and funny! I couldn't NOT laugh at their antics. It's such fun to read about a couple having fun. :) Toss in asexuality and I am SOLD. I see a lot of myself in this story and it's good to know I am not alone (I've known that for a while now though) and it's nice to see a "romance" novel that doesn't focus on sex. They talk about sex but only to say they don't want to have any and that they hated being pressured in previous relationships to have sex. I need to find myself a support group like they have.

There is some drama but it all works out. Jordan had a panic attack when he and Hennessey were kissing and feared he wasn't really asexual and would lose Hennessey. Thankfully Angus and Merry were there to kidnap Jordan and bring him to Hennessey so they could talk it out. Very nice and entertaining that, but enlightening too. I found that scene very helpful personally.

The coincidences are great in how the side characters interact with each and I couldn't help but roll my eyes at that, and yet I still found it charming.

I give this 5 stars and recommend it to everyone!
Profile Image for Jennifer☠Pher☠.
2,793 reviews233 followers
April 2, 2019
I’m just going to give it all the ★'s. I mean, what is there not to love about this? I smiled like a lunatic the entire read. Gah!


I have been told in the past that I can’t read a book without sex. Well, hey you! I just read a book without sex and I L-O-V-E-D it! And even more? I didn’t miss it!

Well done Author. You took a subject that I wasn’t all that familiar with and familiarized me in the most sweet, romantic and hilarious way.

So yeah, I ride a bus to and from work every day and I have a crew like the Soup Crew. I loved this aspect of the book, I totally got it. I’ve yet to see a romance play out on my commute but I’d totally be all over that!

And finally. That end! Seriously. This was just about the cutest.

Such a perfect meet cute with a message.

I really did love it.

Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,883 reviews5,799 followers
April 3, 2023
People have been recommending Upside Down for years, and so I finally (!!) got around to listening to the audiobook and it was... nice? I feel a little let down because my expectations were so high.

I'll start off by saying that I'm not an N.R. Walker fan. I don't hate her books, but I feel like they tend to have similar characters and they edge too sweet for me. I can't explain it, but I've never given her over 3-stars. She is SO damn popular, but the books just don't work for me. Upside Down was sort of in the same vein. It was mostly conflict-free (except for a little at the end), and felt too manufactured and cutesy. I liked it (appreciated the asexual rep and the cutesiness), but even with a pretty good narration, it was hard to keep my attention on the story.

This book feels really like a self-discovery journey and a Hallmark movie had a fluffy, asexual baby. That's a good thing, but it just lacked that something (not sex- I was fine without that!) for my tastes. It tried hard to be funny and charming, but I needed more tension in the story.

Because of my history with N.R. Walker, I'm expecting this is a me problem and not really a book problem, so YMMV.

Profile Image for Gabi.
676 reviews115 followers
March 29, 2019
Update 29/03/2019: It didn't come through for me in her writing, but apparently the author is indeed on the ace spectrum. So this makes it an #ownvoices book.

I was barely in, and this story already made me cry by reliving the moment of my own realization and acceptance, which was not long ago. I was that girl... the one on the bus with the silent tears... lol ;) And then towards the end I cried again.... my highlights speak for themselves as to why.

But I don't want to talk about myself. I loved this book. I loved the nervously rambling and cursing Jordan, he's a dork. Henessy (love the name) was sweet and supporting.

They were perfect, and therein lies my problem, but this book being fiction, I ignored the fact that not only were they both asexuals, they seemed to be perfect for each other. They couldn't find any fault in each other. Which is not likely to happen in real life. I mean what are the chances that I find another asexual where I live, who would have the same preferences as me (cuz you know, not every asexual is the same), who would have the same interests in life as me, who could quote my favorite book, who'd take me to the perfect date. Highly unlikely. Unless, like Jordan, I too go to an aro&ace group meeting, where I can meet people from my tribe. But still, this scenario was a bit unrealistic. But it's fiction, and in books everything is possible, so I just ignored all that. lol :D

I also have an observation. I don't know the author that well. Believe it or not, I'm not spending my time reading upon every author's life. But it felt like this story was written from an outsider's perspective, that the author herself is not on the ace spectrum, which is perfectly fine, she did her research well. There were two parts in this story, the group meetings, when I felt like I was reading a textbook about what asexuals are like, and it was a bit emotionless. It was like all those tweets I see daily, gathered into one big chunk. Like a speech. But given that it was a support group session, not sure it's a problem, and when the members started commenting with their own words their own experiences, not reciting a tweet, it felt more real. Does that all make sense?

Overall I really liked this book, it was sweet and cute and adorkable (mostly thanks to Jordan and his mouth). There's ZERO sex (I think the word 'dick' was mentioned twice and that might be an exaggeration), but there's kissing and hugging and soulgazing and books. :D And awesome friends, equally as interesting characters as the MC's. I hope Angus gets to tell his story :D

If you like humor á la TJ Klune, I think you'd like this.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 76 books2,536 followers
April 7, 2019
Jordan is the epitome of a sweet nerd, a guy whose mouth loses all brakes when he gets nervous, and whose rambling is as endearing as it is wildly-off-topic. Hennessy has finally shed an ex who couldn't live with an asexual boyfriend, and is ready to rebuild with someone better. Watching these guys figure out that they belong together is warm and fun.

This book kept me smiling, and sometimes chuckling, all the way through. Two asexual guys at different points on their journey meet up, first anonymously on the bus, then at a support meeting for Ace folk. That situation allows the book to incorporate a lot of great info about being asexual, and it only occasionally becomes a bit of a sidetrack from the story of the main characters.

There's a minimum of angst, and a host of supportive and quirky side characters. A fun read, and a good story to suggest to someone who has no concept of what asexuality in a relationship might look like, as long as they have an appreciation for a kind of rom-com atmosphere. It's always great to see more asexual MCs in our books. (And other than many f-bombs, this would be just fine for YA readers, although the MCs are adults.)
Profile Image for Tess.
56 reviews30 followers
April 4, 2019
** 4 stars**

(A note to this review: I identify as (a heteromantic) asexual (ace) and will always be more lenient to any representation for my mostly unknown sexual orientation.)

I enjoyed this book. I did. However, it isn't perfect. I love N R Walker as an author and fellow Australian and yet to find a work of hers that I haven't liked.

My main problem with the story was how whimsical it felt - random people on the bus investing time into your budding relationship, how suited (in terms of personalities and orientation) the MCs were, how HAha QuIrKY Jordan was. I get it, romance books aren't always accurate representation for relationships and individuals IRL but with so little depictions of aces it's hard not to be unhappy with it.

Currently, it is estimated that 1-5% of the population identify as asexual, more than most realise but still a minority. With this in mind, it is extremely uncommon to not only find a compatible partner who identifies as asexual but of the same romantic orientation (hetero, homo, bi, pan etc), same age group, same country let alone city. This isn't a huge problem, as again, it's a romance book. But still. I want what Jordan and Hennessy find with each other so badly and maybe because it is currently very hard for many aces to be even accepted by others yet alone find a partner, that I am so critical of it. I have identified myself as asexual for a few years now with absolutely no luck in dating, with fellow asexuals or allosexuals (allos) (those who experience sexual attraction). Modern dating apps mainly consist of allos who send messages like "don't knock it till you try it ;)" (I received this once) or even harass asexuals.

I agree with a few other GR friends who found Jordan too much. His long tangents were hard to understand, follow and process. He is one of the main reasons I ended up skimming the last quarter or so of the book. The majority of asexual representation I have found in the MM genre have been these QUiRKy characters who are so haHA odd when we need to have more grounded characters that young and old people can see themselves in. I'm sure there's Jordans out there who think his character style is perfect but there are many more who need something else.

With this all being said, N R Walker is not solely accountable for representing 1-5% of the population accurately, however authors that aim to write ace characters (which I urge all to do) need to understand how important that is for so many. I commend Walker on the fact I can easily see she researched asexuality and those who are a part of the community. Many times in this book I read statements that literally define me to a T and that is something amazing for me.

Some of my fave points:

"...the absence of sexual attraction makes it difficult to label and the resulting struggle to identify with something that is, by definition, the lack of something." I have, and still, wrestled this this: I am missing something that quote on quote normal people experience

"...I just want people to be happy, and I totally respect their desire to want sex, but I also want them to respect my desire to not have sex." I am sex-indifferent/sex-neutral: I have literally no sexual desire for other people but am not repulsed by sexual themes (I only read erotica lol) or care that others have sex

"There are other people who are like me. There’s nothing wrong with me, there’s nothing abnormal about me." This is exactly how I felt when I attended my first asexual meet-up

"Asexuality is such a huge and broad spectrum. It isn’t black and white. There is no right or wrong. To be asexual is simply defined as sexual orientation characterised by a persistent lack of sexual attraction toward any gender." It truly is such a vast spectrum in itself: gray or demisexuals; sex-favourable; sex-indifferent; sex-repulsed; aromantics etc etc
Profile Image for Eugenia.
1,669 reviews256 followers
April 1, 2019
Fluff and Fun!!!

This was a DELIGHT to read!!! Jordan, our rambling librarian, is absolutely hilarious! Hennessy is sweet as can be.

So many feels here! I loved both characters and how their asexuality was portrayed. Although sometimes it felt a bit “lecture-like,” I understood the reason since one character is just coming to terms with this label, and ace characters are a minority in romances.

Expect awkward moments, word porn, f-bombs at the most inappropriate moments, sweeter than sin bus rides, kissing, hand holding, and mango fries!

Zero angst and all the feels!!
Profile Image for Kirstin.
1,757 reviews16 followers
March 22, 2019
N.R. Walker gets all the motherf@cking stars on this one. OMG. Who says romance is dead?

"He looked right up at me and smiled, all shy-like and timid, and I breathed the only thing worth saying. 'Motherfucker.'"

I'm not going to rehash the blurb here because you can read it above. There is so much else I'd like to say...

For anyone who has thought they were not normal for how they feel, this is the book for you. For anyone who loves to laugh, you have to read this book. For anyone who wants all the romance but doesn't need sexy times you'll be in love.

This seemed like such a different book that what I've read of N.R. Walker's, which is mostly everything, lets be real. This was just simple. Both asexual, Hennessy and Jordan met on a bus and laughed their way into each other's hearts. They had friends along the way that urged them along, shined a light on their path and guided the way.

It was fresh, fun, quirky, silly, goofy, romantic and light. And it scored on my heart. I loved every word, every comma, every punctuation.

Jordan was perfectly neurotic and funny as hell. Hennessy was the sweetest internet ninja to ever walk the earth. And I could go on and on, but instead of reading this review, just do yourself a favor and read the book. It will make your heart flip upside down.

*Galley copy generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Cross posted to http://gaybook.reviews/*
Profile Image for Courtney Bassett.
703 reviews152 followers
February 10, 2020
Heartwarming and hilarious

I was laughing at this from the first page, and highlighted quite a few passages to share with my friends. I am a sucker for nervous rambling/no filter, which Jordan does often to hilarious effect.

The lack of sex didn’t bother me - it was very true to the characters, and integral to the plot and pretty much point of the book. There was still romance and so much cuteness as they were getting to know each other I could explode. Highly recommend.

**edited 2/9/20 to say that the audio for this is FANTASTIC and also highly recommended.**
Profile Image for Annika.
1,397 reviews89 followers
March 21, 2019
We all have them. The world is built on them. Good and bad. Big and small. Some label make us fit in, other set us apart. Many are chosen for us, some are chosen by us. No matter how much we try we can never run away from them, outrun them. And some have the power to change our world.

Jordan recently found a new label. One he wished desperately not to fit, but one that explained so much about himself and all his past relationship failures; asexual. But he had enough labels already and didn't want to add a new one to the collection. He was perfectly content with his life as a librarian, his two best friends and to stare and daydream about Headphones Guy on the bus. He really didn't need anything else. His best friend Merry didn't agree with him and dragged him to a support group for asexuals. A meeting that had him confront some truths and realise that maybe one more label wasn't the end of the world. This one explained so much - and he was not alone.

This is my kind of book. I loved the sweetness, the slow-burn; or rather the building of a relationship. Letting it grow over time. And doing it on a bus ride with the Soup Crew cheering made it all so much more special and fun. I loved how it also highlighted that even the most random of questions can be the spark of something new, something big. And also, who doesn't want a fan club cheering you on? ;)

For me it's rare to find books about ace people. Even more rare to find really good books with ace people. Books with no magic dick that "cures" and make asexuals "normal" and enjoy sex. A book with a lot of intimacy, and not the sexual kind. Walker gave me that with this book. And so much more. It celebrated love in all shapes and forms. It celebrated diversity and acceptance and that no matter how or who you loved it was all love.

Some labels can make the world turn right way up.

Btw, Am I the only one still wondering about why cereal isn't considered to be a soup?

A copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for BWT.
2,171 reviews222 followers
January 19, 2020
Glen Lloyd does a good job with the character voices and the emotional performance of the story, and I love the subject, the Ace rep, and the slow romance, but the pacing of this bored me to distraction too many times.

'Upside Down' has a far slower pace than most of N.R. Walker's other books and it did not translate well into audio for me. Ultimately, I feel like Lloyd just didn't punch up the material enough.

Overall the audio was only "okay" for me, but enough that I would give Glen Lloyd another shot.
Profile Image for BevS.
2,749 reviews2 followers
March 24, 2023

4 stars, maybe 4.25 for this audio version of one of my fave stories of 2019. I loved Jordan to bits, potty-mouth and all, and Hennessey, Merry and Angus were also good. I can't say that I've heard of the narrator Glen Lloyd before...but as his name didn't turn up any other results on Audible, I suspect he's either new or hiding behind another name. His take on Jordan was great, I'm more or less certain that he is Australian thank goodness, and if he isn't, he does a bloody good impersonation of being one, BUT there were a few niggles [Oedipus has a silent O, chaste is like waist and it's assume, not ashume]. I have to say the production of the narration was a little weird...they kept cutting the word chapter off so we got 'ter 11' or whichever number it was, hardly ever chapter but ter. Strange. Still, I really enjoyed it and the last chapter was lovely.

***Book Review***

snoopy hearts

I adored the hell out of this...especially Jordan [💜] and Hennessey [what can you do with parents that give you stupid names??] the 2 MC's, and yes, there is definitely NO sex!! Heartwarming, an utter joy to read, so many laughs and happy tears...what more could you ask for from a story?? Brilliant friends, fellow passengers on the 353 bus - the Soup Crew [read the story, you'll get the comment], poetry and art references...I also loved the little mentions of Alexa and Siri...as if they were real people 😉. An entertaining, charming and heartfelt read from Nic. Loved it to bits, and VERY highly recommended!! 💜🧡💚💛💙
Profile Image for any.
299 reviews50 followers
July 15, 2022
that was kind of cute and I loved the ace representation. but if I read one more “motherfucker” I would scream
Profile Image for meep.
647 reviews16 followers
March 14, 2019
4.5 stars

Upside down is a standalone by N.R. Walker. Jordan O'Neill is in his own words gay, a geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a rambler, an introvert, lover of bad words and now, asexual. He really does not want more labels but it fits.

Hennessy Lang is new to Surry Hills after a split from his ex-boyfriend. He is asexual and runs an asexuality support group. Jordan attends a meeting and realizes that Hennessy is none other than “headphone guy”. They meet and sparks fly. They seem perfect together but will it all go as smoothly as it seems it should?

Jordan is hilarious. He’s hands down one of the favorite characters I have ever read about. Despite being very insecure he is himself and he cannot help but be himself in every situation. His nervous rambling as well as his normal rambling was adorable. I really enjoyed him. Hennessey seemed a lot calmer and laid back and his personality worked perfectly with Jordan.

This book had me laughing from the very start all the way to the end. If you are feeling down, I 100% suggest this book. It has humour the likes of which only Mrs. Walker is capable of. I read this book in one sitting and got funny looks while reading it. I do not generally like MMF but I have to say I would absolutely love for Angus to have a book. He may only be a secondary character but his natural air-headedness was both adorable and funny. This was a very good and well-rounded book and I wish it were longer, but the ending was satisfying.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
Profile Image for Linn.
63 reviews16 followers
July 22, 2020
"Upside down" is about Jordan, a 26 year old librarian, who's currently trying to figure out if he's asexual and about Hennessy, who is asexual, which was the reason why his last relationship "didn't work".

As you probably guess, these two start falling for each other. What you probably won't guess is that this book is the sweetest one ever written!!! Aaaaaah!!!!
Really, "Upside down" made me smile so much because these two are just so adorable that my heart exploded in my chest.

Jordan is the absolute sweetest and funniest character existing and I will protect him with my all if anyone tries to talk shit about him. 😡😂 He's such a kind and lovely character, who happens to have anxiety and starts rambling when he's insecure. I loved him SO much.
And here comes the thing about Hennessy: He's also the sweetest and kindest character existing! 😂 He's so gentle and warmhearted and so understanding. The way he supported Jordan and was just so caring and thoughtful... my heart.
Really, this book is the sweet, but little awkward cinnamonroll character falling for the sweet, but also caring cinnamonroll character. 😭💜

I also loved all the sidecharacters and the friendships. As much as this is a book about romance, it's also a book about friendship. Merry, Angus and Michael were wonderful and everyone of them was so fully fleshed out. Even the smallest sidecharacters, like the Soup Crew, were written so well. And made me laugh out loud. 😂
Also lesbian, bi and polyam representation and I loved it.

Now this is an utterly adorable romance book and tbh I would have loved it anyway, but what made it even better was, that the two mains are ace. There even is an aromanticism and asexuality support group.
I think of all sexualities existing I heard of asexuality the last.
Asexuality is still so underrepresented and gets dismissed so easily that a lot of people have been spending years and years worrying what is wrong with them, though nothing ever was wrong. That's why I loved that this is a book about a 26 year old man, figuring out his asexuality. This book is completely positive, he gets all the support, his friends understand him, the person he falls in love with helps him and all of this made me feel so happy. 💜

I also read some reviews that the book was "too educational", but where? Tell me please where, because for me it was just two guys falling in love, figuring out their relationship, talking about boundaries!!! That's not educational, that is communication in a relationship!
Of course they talked about asexuality and what it meant for their relationship, especially since it's like printed all over the the back of the book in the blurb and the cover is basically the aceflag, but whatever. 💁🏻‍♀️😂
It was there, but tbh I didn't feel like it was written to educate the allo audience. It felt more like it was written for ace people, to tell them that wherever they are on the spectrum, they are valid and it's okay. 💜 (Now that I put it like this maybe this was the reason allos found it to be too much! 😂)

So what can I say. I finished this book in one day and tbh I was so sad it was over. I would have loved to read more about these two. Like, I have to know how they spend everyday after work together? What are they reading? What are they eating? Do they stay hydrated???? 😂 No, jokes aside, "Upside down" is a wonderful romance book with the most adorable main characters. It's character driven and has amazing ace rep. So if you want to laugh, smile, cry and lose your heart to a story: Read it! 💜
Profile Image for Sita the Reader.
173 reviews3 followers
March 14, 2019
N.R. Walker wins this hand with aces.
(If that's a terrible pun, I'm sorry, but not really)

I don't think I'll ever get sick of this author's style. Her books, no matter which way she's going - and she's taken us places: robots, vampires, architects, ancient Greeks, the gym, etc etc etc; I think she needs to give her brain to science so we can figure out what's going on in there, after she's done with it because creepy and we need more books first but I digress (much like the Jordan in this book does) - you're given an absolutely gorgeous story.

Here we are given two main characters who are very similar in a lot of ways - which is good for compatibility - but their differences make seeing them together so, well, adorable. Jordan and Hennessy, are two people who are just made for each other. And seeing Hennessy help Jordan navigate his new possible label of 'asexual' is done really well and thoughtfully. And Jordan's rambling is, well, very charming and I think it's soothing for Hennessy. Jordan is also hilarious and kind, a good counterbalance to Hennessy's thoughtfulness and steadiness.

The stuff on the bus just kills me with feelings just thinking about it. I don't want to delve into that any further and ruin it. But trust me. You want the 'on the bus' goodness ASAP.

Also, love the secondary characters in this book. The friendship, camaraderie, loyalty and limericks - yes there are some limericks - just rounds everything up so well in this book.

I think something special to mention is there is no "big, bad, antagonist" character. There is an 'ex' who makes an appearance. But for this book, the opposing force is no one person, but an idea, a history of "people" who in their ignorance of what asexuality is hurt the people who are ace. People who put their needs before their partners, who don't try to understand, and instead blame them for not being normal. It's a clear message we should all try to understand one another a little better. Even, understand ourselves a little better.

Finally, because Jordan and Hennessy are both so freakin' smart it made me think of how smart and insightful the author is. The amount of research she does (and not only in this book) really just shows how much she puts into her craft, I appreciate that so much, and we can all enjoy the results in a beautifully put together story.

Just a wonderful, brilliant, read. Again. I'm ready for more.
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