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In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

In a World Just Right

by Jen Brooks

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When Jonathan Aubrey was just a young boy, his family was involved in a plane crash that he miraculously survived. Growing up an orphan in his inattentive Uncle Joey's house, Jonathan discovered he had a power - a power to make worlds from his own imagination, worlds that he could actually travel to and leave the pain of the world he knows behind.

Smart, beautiful track star Kylie Simms is the girl of Jonathan's dreams, but untouchable in the real world, where Jonathan is all but invisible. It doesn't matter, though, because Jonathan has created a mirror world of his own, one where Kylie loves him unconditionally, one where he has friends and runs track and lives the "normal" life that he might have had. Everything is going along okay in Jonathan's worlds until the day he mistakes one world for the other and approaches the real Kylie for a kiss. All the sudden, everything Jonathan thought he knew about his life and his power is called into question, and maybe none of Jonathan's worlds are quite what they've always seemed.

I really enjoyed In a World Just Right. It starts out as a sweet, if misguided, romance between a boy who's lost everything and the girl of his imagination. Then it morphs into a much more intriguing story as the mystery behind Jonathan's power to create parallel worlds for himself is uncoiled and the implications of it for the worlds he manipulates become startlingly clear. Jonathan is a sympathetic character, wishing to blend in and forget in the real world but desperately wanting to be a hero or the boy he could have been in the worlds he creates. He's very realistically drawn, not ruined by the tragedy of his life, but always existing with an unspeakable grief just below the surface.

The best part of the book, however, is the end. I wouldn't for a moment chance spoiling it for anybody, but I will tell you that I was surprised, I ugly cried, and it made a middle of the road romance with magical leanings blossom into something much more profound. Brooks' debut is everything I'd hoped and more, a pitch perfect novel about love that shows up in many forms and the courage it takes to face every day in the real world. ( )
  yourotherleft | Sep 2, 2015 |
2.5 stars?For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

Most of the time, I read a book and I have really strong opinions one way or another, but sometimes I just don’t know. Aspects of In a World Just Right were brilliant and parts of it will stick with me, but other aspects fell really flat. This is one of those books where I would one hundred percent not judge anyone for having any range of reaction to it, be it hate, love, or anything in between. I put myself pretty much dead smack in the middle, because the concept was amazing, but the execution was lacking for me in some respects.

The cover alteration that In a World Just Right underwent, though not my favorite, actually is highly appropriate, because the major failure of this book for me is characterization. Jonathan never felt three dimensional to me, so the sketched outline of a person is much more fitting to my reading experience. From the first pages, I struggled with Jonathan. The narration didn’t feel like a boy to me, but I’m not sure if that was because of gender fail or because of how passionless he seemed to me despite so much of the book being about his yearning for Kylie. I never felt what Jonathan felt. Partly, this might be tied to the fact that I don’t know why he’s so into Kylie, and I don’t know of anything else in any world that he’s really into. He runs because she does. He’s only interested in college so he could be near her. Who IS Jonathan?

On the other hand, I do very much like how Jen Brooks acknowledges the creepy. Jonathan created a world where the girl he was crushing on was in love with him. In that world, he sneaks in her window at night and sleeps over regularly. (Presumably, they have sex on these evenings, but I’m not sure (see how the reader is kept at a distance from Jonathan? What person in their first person narration wouldn’t think about getting action more than Jonathan does when he’s so into Kylie?) One of the parameters of that world is that Kylie has to love him, no matter what he does.

When Jonathan confuses the real world for his dream world one day, real Kylie begins to experience emotional crossover from girlfriend Kylie and vice versa. Girlfriend Kylie begins to feel uncomfortable when he touches her; real Kylie feels drawn to this guy she’s not been close to since third grade and has no idea why. What I like about this is that it’s acknowledged as creepy and not okay. Jonathan’s aware of what he’s doing and he feels bad about it, but not quite bad enough to stop. View Spoiler » I can’t say this endeared me to Jonathan at all, since what personality he did have to me was creepy Edward stalker/Pygmalion guy, but I did appreciate the edge that it added to In a World Just Right. This part was fucked up and really made me think.

That said, I spent about 350 pages being mildly interested. I wasn’t quite bored, but I also was not engaged strongly for more than a chapter or two at a time. My progress was slow. The ending, however, brought some unexpected plot developments that were really cool, though they also make me ask more questions: How is Jonathan a worldmaker when he’s a made up Jonathan? Can all Jonathans make worlds as long as they were in the plane crash? If they merged, then MC Jonathan isn’t real Jonathan. I’m just puzzled about the boundaries on this.

The romance in In a World Just Right did nothing for me. Kylie and Jonathan are very meh together. It obviously doesn’t help that I find his obsession with her deeply unsettling. He literally created her in one instance, and she’s very much his dream girl, which I’m not comfortable with. I like the way Brooks plays with this, but I couldn’t care at all about the fact that potentially losing Kylie is the big issue. It’s not life or death; it’s life with Kylie or life possibly without Kylie. Honeybadger don’t give a shit. I’m glad that Brooks didn’t put them together officially at the end, but I wish he’d lost her for good. It feels like he might be rewarded for his creepy worldmaking, even if real Kylie may not have been impacted, but also that whole thing showed that you can’t be sure there won’t be crossover.

In a World Just Right is one of those odd books that I can’t say that I liked all that much, but that I do sort of want to push on people anyway. It’s one I would really love to discuss in a book club format, because it’s complex and mind-bendy. If any of you have read this one and have thoughts, I want to hear them! ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Jun 2, 2015 |
I wanted to read In a World Just Right because I like the premise of the alternate universes. Turns out there is the emotional aspect with a good portion of his family deceased in the accident that left him in a coma as a kid. When he woke up, that is when his ability to make the other worlds emerged. His current world that he visits is based on Kylie, the girl he has a crush on and it soon turns out that that world and the real world gets confused.

I like Jonathan. It is nice these days to get a male point of view in a book where it isn't a couple and their dual narrative. He is very self conscious of his scars, especially the big on on his face, and he feels invisible at school in the real world. It was a bit confusing for me--if he disappears from the real world when he is in his Kylie is my girlfriend world. If not, how the two works together, especially at school, where he is in most of the same, but not all classes, and in Kylie girlfriend he takes sports with her.

It is interesting to see where he prefers his made up world and then the things that make him feel like the Kylie girlfriend world is inconsequential, that why does it matter if it isn't the real world. And then a mystery girl that he feels like he knows but can't figure out how makes him question even more the lines of reality.

I like that there was some connection before his accident with Kylie, some reason for him to have a crush on her. Enough to make a whole alternate universe where they are a happy couple.

I liked the broad interests- from running track, to poetry that also has connections from the real world into his alternate one.

After the slightly confusing beginning and then getting a handle on exactly how this universe of world creating and parallel worlds--thought that I had a good handle on the story. but Jonathan's and Kylie story ended up taking a twist that I never saw coming and then after that twist resolved itself it was another huge one that I didn't even think to be a possible conclusion to the story

So all in all even though there were some definite weird part and a few things that I didn't understand even at the end of the story I was really surprised and happy with the new spin that this premise took.

I really enjoyed what Jonathan learned about himself and others through the exploration of the different worlds. although he was an unspeakable tragedy and lost a lot of his family he took the self pity and feeling invisible to a new level.

He also learned a lot about life and even though he has some issues with school he still had hopes and dreams for something bigger for himself and he was pretty devastated when he thought that he messed that up

Well a lot of the story does revolve around the romance between him and Kylie elect at the end took on an even bigger meaning and show that there was something more in this world then Jonathan Kylie and his grief.

The title of the story also played into a lot of the messages of this book. feeling that happiness was going to simple as creating someone to love you or manipulating his world to give him what he thought was happiness. he could keep opening and closing world are changing the parameters all he wanted to try to make quote unquote a world just right. Rather he learned that you have to make the best from what life has given you and always look out that you might be able to help and encourage someone else.

I loved how he put things he learned about himself and through others to make an ending that fits just right. I never saw the sacrifice coming, but I appreciated it so much.

Bottom Line: Interesting take on the boy who survived, and his ability to make alternate worlds. ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Mar 10, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 148141660X, Hardcover)

Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.

But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Aubrey, a scarred loner, escapes at will into other worlds of his making, but suddenly the world in which a popular girl is his long-term girlfriend is intersecting reality in startling ways.

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