Like No Other
by Una LaMarche
Original Publication Date: July 24, 2014
Length: 352 pages
Obtained Via: Borrowed from the library
View at the Traffic light:
Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart?
Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing.
Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).
They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did.
When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.
Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?
In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.
I was super into Like No Other for the first half of the book. Devorah and Jax meet during a chance encounter while being stuck in the elevator at a hospital during a big New York storm. Devorah’s there because her niece or nephew is being born, and Jax is there with his friend who was in an accident. Most of the time, these two teens would never met, much less talk to each other, but eventually they start a conversation because of their predicament. After that, they both spiral into a bit of an obsession, planning clandestine encounters and secret communication.
Jax finds talking to Devorah easier than talking to other girls, and feels like himself around her. For Devorah, Jax brings out her hidden desire for something more than the same path of life she’s seen be set out for her sister and one day for her. At first, I was captivated by their mutual obsession, even if I wasn’t necessarily rooting for them. The romance in Like No Other is clearly a young love romance. It’s pretty close to insta-love, but the book never treats it as if this is a romance that’s meant to be or that the reader as suppose to buy, at least as far as I interpreted it. And when that was the case, I could be fascinated by the story and the way the romance worked more as a magnifying glass to show the characters what they really wanted out of life.
And then I hit the second half of Like No Other, and everything felt weird. Despite the dual narration, Jaxon is sort of the male equivalent of the standard trope of the love interest being used as character development fodder for the protagonist. In that sense, it’s uncommon, but there wasn’t much development for himself. At the end of the book, I found myself confused as to why Jax even had a POV–it wasn’t necessary in the slightest. Jaxon also suffered from the informed character trait. He’s suppose to be the smart, well-behaving teenager, but pretty much from the start he makes some pretty dumb decisions and behaves recklessly. I wouldn’t mind those being his character traits if the book hadn’t informed me that was supposed to be the exact opposite of who he was.
I also started to feel pretty iffy about some of Jaxon’s choices towards the latter half of the book that were coded as romantic. He crosses what I’d consider some pretty firm lines and it made me cringe. I had also been enjoying his character arc up to that point, so I was rather disappointed when he did things like go by Devorah’s house–even though she had told him not to.
Devorah’s step-brother, who played the part of the story villain, was also fairly one dimensional and felt stereotypical. In so many ways, I think my issues with Like No Other came down to how I felt the book lacked nuance, and this was a prime example. Devorah’s relationship with Jaxon served as the catalyst for her journey of self-discovery, which was fine, but for so long I felt the book was trying to get me to believe in their romance when the real story was clearly Devorah’s growth–which was the one thing that led to this book being a decently positive experience for me. Because despite my issues, I did enjoy a good chunk of Like No Other.
And while I may not have liked most of the second half of the book, I did like the ending. I felt proud of Devorah for making her own path while staying in her community because that was what she wanted to do, and it felt good to read about a character who managed to find her own way without completely rejecting her life up to that point. The hopefully bittersweet ending really worked for me.
I LOVED the first half of Like No Other, but I felt the book went off the rails a little bit. I had some issues with the way the romance ended up playing out and how underutilized Jaxon was except for him being a prop for Devorah’s story. 3/5 stars.