Today’s review is a little something different to bring back some 80s nostalgia! Penguin Teen invited me to be a part of a really fun review campaign in which reviewers of ONCE UPON A KISS add a little 80s and 90s flair to their review posts! Naturally, I immediately said yes –because how much fun is that? — so today’s review will have a little extra blast from the past for you! Enjoy!
Title: Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Alternate Reality, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 8, 2016
It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?
ONCE UPON A KISS was exactly what I thought it would be — adore, cute, and just a feel-good book! I’d say it’s 13 Going on 30 meets Mean Girls, except instead of simply moving forward into her own future like Jenna does in 13 Going on 30, Zoe Brenner ends up in an alternate present-day life where all of her friends and family are the same but 2016 is their reality instead of 1986. The concept was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed this new take on time travel and alternate realities where the two really end up blending!
I really enjoyed how ONCE UPON A KISS was a blend of contemporary with a little bit of science-fiction! I wouldn’t necessarily call it a time travel book but what happened to Zoe really did span the boundaries of time and also ended up skewing into an alternate reality where her life in 1986 got shifted to what life would be like at the same age, in the same house, with the same people but all in 2016. It was really fun to see how her entire life would have shifted if she was living the same teenage years in 2016 instead of 1986 and how her family was adjusted to that change as well!
The book was definitely adorable but at times actually a bit too cutesy for me. I really loved the switch from 1986 to 2016 and it’s always interesting and fun to see how the author adjusts each person’s life from the day to day routines in 1986 and how much different those same lives would be in 2016. It was highly entertaining to watch the same lifestyles adapt to modern day, especially Zoe’s parents and their work out videos! They were a bit silly and over the top sometimes but it was also hilarious to see the new name drops of celebrities that helped them endorse and participate in their work out routines!
I’ll admit that the use of modern-day jargon was a bit too much for me at times. I think I was more okay with it when they were being silly with overuse of 80s jargon because it amped up the 80s atmosphere (and hey, I was a baby in the 80s so I can’t tell you how many of these words were actually used and how often) but the 2016 catch phrases, abbreviations, and terms got to be a bit too much for me at times. People don’t really use that many buzz words in everyday speech (well, if they do, they’re not people I know) and the 2016 vocabulary felt a bit like overkill for me sometimes… BUT that also amps up the 2016 feel for Zoe and allows room for laughs as she tries to figure out what the heck these people are talking about! It was one of those moments where it was definitely cute but maybe went a bit too far for my personal taste.
Right off the bat, I was shipping Zoe with her best friend Jonah. If you know my reading tastes at all, you know that I adore best friend to romance relationships so even when I wasn’t sure if that was the idea of the book, I was already on board with it when the book first took off! I totally felt for Zoe when she ends up in 2016-life and a best friend who doesn’t even really know this new version of her. I thought the friendships and romances throughout the whole book were really well done! I enjoyed the romantic aspects of the book as well as the various friendships that Zoe both maintains and strives to acquire. She really worked hard to be a good person, include everyone that she could, and went out of her way to befriend others!
ONCE UPON A KISS was definitely a quick, fun, and light book! It bordered a bit more on the fluffy side for me but it was perfect timing because that was exactly what I needed! I wished there was a bit more to the plot development and I could have used a bit more possible explanation why Zoe was transported to the future and why her life there was different, but I did love the character development and how everything really varied from 1986 to 2016. I had a great time reading the book and it was definitely a delight!
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Zoe // Character Obsessions: Everyone getting along, Jonah, getting back to the past.
Zoe was a really fun character! She was just so enjoyable to get to know and I really loved how positive she was. She really took that whole “new world” thing as easily as she could and I always admired how much she really just wanted equality for everyone. I wish I had known more about why the switch from 1986 to 2016 happened but she seemed to adapt really well!
Kept Me Hooked On: Alternate realities. I really liked this take on an alternate reality! Instead of a parallel universe or straight time travel, Zoe ended up being in 2016 instead of 1986 that was an alternate reality of her life and not just an alternate universe or possibly future.
Left Me Wanting More: Explanation. I think the thing I was really missing from the book was why Zoe was transported to 2016. I suppose there doesn’t have to be a reason but it’s always nice!
I wasn’t totally wowed but it was such a cute book. It was definitely on the lighter side for me but a fun take on an alternate reality and definitely adorable.
BOOKS LIKE ONCE UPON A KISS
(Click the cover to see my review!)
In honor of ONCE UPON A KISS, I’m also sharing some of my favorite 90s nostalgia! Since I was barely born in the 80s (’87 baby!), all of my childhood memories are from the 90s so we’re bringing back some of the most awesome things from the decade!
Honestly, Buzzfeed summed up my 90s childhood pretty well with 45 Things From Your 90s Childhood You Probably Forgot About (YES to literally everything on this list) but there were so many trends at my school that didn’t make the list! Some of my other favorite things that were big when I was a kid were pogs, keychains for your backpack and/or purse (like, as many as you could possibly find. From Claire’s, of course), mood rings, and for some reason it was a thing to wear tall white socks (but I think that was just a thing at my school because I haven’t found other people who did this)! I also loved rocking my fake work boots, which for some reason was also a thing. Can’t forget that light green eye shadow and buying/gifting tons of lotion from Bath and Body Works!