A huge thank-you to the author for this gifted copy of Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds.
Let me introduce you to Early Departures, a young adult contemporary novel that’s about to change your life.
I knew Early Departures was going to be phenomenal from the moment Justin Reynolds announced it. I could tell that he put his heart and soul into the story and that only made me more excited to read it.
I took pretty detailed notes as I read, but when I sat down to write my review, all I could think to say was, “Oh my gosh it’s so good please read it right away,” which… isn’t a review – it’s just the way I feel about it. However, I did actually manage to eventually gather all my thoughts to create a full, honest review. Keep on scrolling to learn more about Early Departures.
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My honest review of Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds.
Justin A. Reynolds, author of Opposite of Always, delivers another smart, funny, and powerful stand-alone YA contemporary novel, with a speculative twist in which Jamal’s best friend is brought back to life after a freak accident . . . but they only have a short time together before he will die again.
Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die . . . again.
He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident.
But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies . . . forever.
Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?
Content Warnings: (Major) untimely death and tragedy, depression and anxiety, grief
“And I suppose the story moral is:Early Departures
You can die and still live on.
You can be alive but be consumed by death.
The difference between living and being alive is:
After reading Opposite of Always, I knew I had found a new favorite author. When Reynolds announced Early Departures, I immediately added it to my reading list and anxiously anticipated the release date.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting with this book, but I will tell you that it was full of surprises.
You meet childhood best friends, Jamal and Quincy (or “Q”), who haven’t actually been best friends in nearly two years. They haven’t even spoken – until an altercation at a party where things get a little out of hand. Shortly after, Q dies (despite Jamal attempting to save his life). Jamal finds himself in an increasingly uncomfortable situation when Q’s mom agrees to have her son reanimated. Yep, Quincy will live again – but only for a short amount of time… and there’s a catch: he’s not allowed to know that he died or the details surrounding his death.
This story was the epitome of an emotional roller coaster. You see, I expected to cry. When reading about a book that covers the topic of death – especially the death of a best friend or parents; really any tragedy – I assume that I’ll be swiping away tears on the regular. What I didn’t expect was the sudden fits of laughter that would follow the tears or even happen while I was still crying. The author did a fantastic job creating an environment that felt natural despite the somewhat “unnatural” elements throughout the book.
Some of my favorite moments were entirely unrelated to Quincy. Jamal’s older sister, Whit, is a force to be reckoned with. She brings light and joy into parts of the story that need it the most. There is a massive emphasis on the importance of family (the one you’re given AND the one you choose) and it’s incredibly heartwarming.
I often wonder which is more important in a novel: the plot or the characters. While I typically believe the plot is most important, I really appreciate good character development. One thing that this book definitely does not lack is great character development – but the best part? It also has an amazing plot. It truly is the best of both worlds. The characters and their relationships are believable and relatable.
Honestly, I could continue writing for ages about how this story impacted me in millions of ways, but rather than detailing it all out and leaving nothing to the imagination, I’m just going to plead with you to read it for yourself. You will definitely not regret it.