Author: Liz Czukas
Genre: contemporary, young adult
Published: expected March 11 2014
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.
Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be?
Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings?
Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...
Ask Again Later is the ocean of fluff from which all other fluffy books originate. By which I mean this was possibly the most fluffy book I have read so far this year and I loved every. single. page. of it. It was so much fun to relive a first prom with Heart and her friends that I can see myself rereading this soon in the future in addition to recommending it to friends starting now. It's a breezy, entertaining, and amusing romp throughout its various and potential outcomes. Following the story through the two possible versions of Heart's junior prom is a creative outlet for a pretty familiar YA plot, and Czukas should be proud of her engaging and appealing debut.
The plot is variation of the Pivot Point/Sliding Doors/"alternate outcomes from a single decision" pattern, but focused around the night of a school prom. Czukas alternates chapters with the different possibilities for Heart's night at prom (one with a pity date, one with a closeted friend), allowing the reader to fully view how each option would have played out throughout the night. Each storyline has similarities and differences, but it's easy to see which choice works best for the main character (and it's easy to pick a favorite outcome). Some aspects of the story can feel stereotypical for a high school prom (mean girls! Drunk dates! Ex girlfriend drama!), but for the most part, Ask Again Later acquits itself admirably when it comes to accurate but interesting depictions of teenagers.
Heart is a fun protagonist. Her name is the most cringe-worthy of all cringe-worthy names (Heart LaCoeur. Really. I'll just let that sink in.), but her characterization is pretty fantastic. She feels like an old friend right from the start. Her voice is warm, funny, and self-aware without feeling too mature for her age. I liked her and enjoyed her narration, but I did think she was a little too passive about being involved in the decisions about her own prom date. I wanted her to make her own decisions, instead of feeling pressured into either one. Besides Heart, her friends were a lively, engaging bunch, more than able to compete for attention. None of them is really defined (besides Chase) as much as I would like, but there's some life and diversity to them, which is always appreciated. Plus, as a group, they have charisma and seem like they're real friends to Heart.
Ask Again Later is the perfect antidote to a feels-wrecking book. It's the cure to your book hangover. There's drama and silliness in equal measure, of course, but it's a truly engaging and fun contemporary, guaranteed to bring the adorbs. It's cute and fluffy and left me with a big smile when I finished.