Published by Soho Teen on May 17th 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA
Source: Edelweiss eArc
In 1916, Emma O’Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island off St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging—as do the Ryans, her family’s business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she’s in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O’Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder—Emma and Charlie are the only ones who escape with their lives.
On the run, Emma is tragically separated from Charlie. For the next hundred years, she plays a cat-and-mouse game with the founding members of the Church of Light and their descendants. Over the years, a series of murders—whose victims all bear more than a passing resemblance to her—indicate that her enemies are closing in. Yet as the danger grows, so does Emma’s hope for finding the boy she’s certain is still out there . . .
From the Hardcover edition.
~ A twist on the story Tuck Everlasting, which actually made it more like how I wanted Tuck Everlasting to be. Spoiler to Tuck Everlasting and a Confession: I watched the movie Tuck Everlasting before I read the book- and I’m a Jonathan Jackson fan, so I was very invested in the romance of the movie and less so than in the romance of the book Winnie and Jesse- the ending devastated me and I always thought she should have drank the damn magic water.)
~ It Wasn’t Always Like This differs in most ways from TE, because the love interests Emma and Charlie, both drink from the magic water as teenagers, so they’re both immortal. So they live happily ever after, forever.
~ Just kidding, bad shiz goes down, really bad shiz, and the two are separated. Emma’s the main character, but we occasionally get glimpses into Charlie’s life, but like Emma, we don’t know if he’s still alive or if he’s been hunted down.
~ The book starts off in St. Augustine Florida, loved the setting!
~ Modern day Emma, who’s been 17 since the early 1900’s, is now a world weary private eye. Not so much working cases as trying to stop the cult trying to track her down and kill her. Both are unsuccessful- Emma can’t stop innocent girls who look like her from being killed, she can’t find Charlie, and the cult can’t bag Emma. It’s a mess.
~ My favorite part of the book was Emma’s relationship with Detective Pete Mondragon. I loved the grouchy cop who is privy to Emma’s secrets. I like grouchy cops in general.
~ The back and forth between Emma’s past and her present, and additional flashbacks to other times in her history, worked well for me. It kept things fresh and upped the mystery and tension.
~ My only complaint about the book was the ending. Not how it ends, but rather the way the story just kind of information dumps all over itself. It was information I really wanted to know, but I think it could have been handled in less of tell and more of a show way. Of course, I read the eArc so maybe it’s been changed a bit.
~ I will probably be picking this book up in finished form, because I did really like it, clunky ending and all. Emma’s a great character, not squeaky clean like so many YA heroines (which makes sense because she’s rea, lly only 17 in a physical sense) and I was genuinely worried about the characters. I figured some things out, but overall I still enjoyed the mystery aspect.
Emma: Immortal girl detective, investigating deaths of girls who look an awful lot like her.
Charlie: the immortal boy who once stole Emma’s heart and then disappeared.
Detective Pete Mondragon: cop from Albuquerque, friend to Emma.
Art O’Neill: Emma’s father and business partner of Charlie’s dad.
Frank Ryan: Charlie’s somewhat obnoxious father, and business partner to Art.
Glen Walters: Leader of the Church of Light, who is the first to be suspicious of the O’Neills and the Ryans stunning youthful looks.
Kingsley Lloyd: a creepy hepetologist who plays a big role in Emma’s life.
Coral: a young girl who resembles Emma.
Hugo- Coral’s boyfriend.
Matt- a random hookup.
Pastor Meehan- a youth pastor who Emma investigates.
The moment Charlie and Emma separate, even though you know that it makes sense, it’s still awful because they are literally the only person the other has left. It’s heartbreaking.
Stop the Clock:
It Wasn’t Always Like This was exactly what I wanted it to be after reading the summary. I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and I kind of would love a whole series of books that focus on Emma and Pete opening up a cool paranormal detective agency.
It Wasn’t Always Like This gets a Midnight Book rating of: