Series: Off the Map #1
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing) on August 5, 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Debut Author Challenge, 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
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If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found
Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.
Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.
“There are beautiful places inside him, where laughter comes easy, where sweet words appear like surprises. But I also know his bitter valleys. The dark caves where he hides his fears, his hurts, and his disillusionments. And he knows mine.”
Upside Down follows twenty-one year old Natalia Stolfi as she moves Australia as an exchange student to try to get over some of her grief of losing all of her family (her sister dying and her mom leaving) but her father. It’s all going great until she meets the brooding Bran Lockhart. He’s been going through some tough stuff and the last thing he needs is to get involved in the Californian girl who can see right through him. But things aren’t that easy and as feelings grow between the two of them, things get turned Upside Down.
I really enjoyed this novel. The setting was great. I really enjoy reading novels that are set in other countries and this one did not let me down. The pacing in the novel was pretty good with no lags in pace. There also weren’t any identifiable plot holes. There was a ton of drama between Bran and Talia, especially with Bran’s past, that kept me hooked. It was an easy novel to lose myself in.
Talia was suffering from some pretty heavy grief about losing her sister and her mother’s leaving. So she put on the mask of being care-free. It was easy to see past this mask and to her vulnerability hiding beneath it. She was an easy character to sympathize for and an easy character to relate to. She came off as a genuinely kind-hearted person. She was just trying to get by and move on to a life without the crushing grief or guilt.
Bran had some things that he was dealing with that prohibited us from getting to know his character well. He was closed off until the very end and I couldn’t get a very good read on him. I wasn’t exactly sure where his loyalties lied and throw in the cause of the problems and I had some serious doubts about his character. He made some bad decisions and was stuck in the past but I started warming up to him near the end of the novel. Hopefully I’ll love him even more in the upcoming novels.
I didn’t get into their romance as much as I would have liked to. It was kind of on and off and very complicated, especially with the appearance of people from Bran’s past. He just wasn’t all into it and that kept me from being all into it. I did, however, get more invested in it during the end of the novel and hopefully that interest will hold in the upcoming novels.
Although I wasn’t thoroughly invested in the romance, Upside Down was a great novel with intriguing characters both running away from something and finding solace in each other. I’m interested to see how the rest of their story plays out.