Upside Down by N. R. Walker: You need this Book

This is a Spoiler Free book review for Upside Down by N. R. Walker

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Goodreads Synopsis

“Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But when he realises adding the label asexual might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.
Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.
A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.” –Goodreads

The Breakdown:

Characters (10)

Jordan and Hennessy’s personalities and voices are distinct from one another throughout this dual POV book; not to mention they are also hilarious. Jordan’s anxiety and overthinking is quite relatable, even if some may consider it to be a bit over the top at times. Jordan’s introversion and love for books is a perfect match with his habit of using less than polite language and making quick jokes mid conversation. Hennessy’s mature, loving, and genuine personality contrasts Jordan’s perfectly. These characters seem real and have quite a bit of depth for such a short book. It is also worth noting that the characters’ relationships are very easy to get invested in, even for the side characters. Their relationships and friendships are messy, like real relationships, and sometimes the characters make mistakes, which again makes them feel more real. Even if the characters’ backstories are not explicitly picked apart for the reader, they are still enough to feel invested and understand where each character is coming from. There is also quite a bit of sexuality representation in this book; this may be a story about asexuality following a gay couple, but one of the side characters has a polyamorous relationship and other types of sexualities are represented in this story.

Hennessy is best boy, and I will protect my teddy bear at all costs. He is the softest, most romantic fella, and I adore him.

Atmosphere (10)

This Rom-Com style discovery of sexuality takes place in Australia during the colder months of the year. The cities are bustling, the side characters are charming, and there are a lot of cafe/public transportation/library scenes throughout this book. The tone of this book leans towards optimistic and fluffy, which can make a good read for between heavier books or when in need of an uplifting story. N. R. Walker does an excellent job of inserting the reader into the story and making them feel like they are part of the character’s journey.

Writing (10)

This book has high quality writing and storytelling. The plot moves at a decent speed that keeps the reader interested while still taking necessary time to develop the characters’ relationships at a realistic speed. The writing style makes this book easy to read in a short time, and the prose isn’t overly flowery either. This book could be a 4 to 5 hour read for someone who reads at an average speed. As mentioned above, the world is well described to the reader, making them feel like they are fully immersed in the story. There aren’t any points in the story where the pacing feels off. The slower, more meaningful parts are zoomed in for the reader to cherish, while the pace picks up to match the more climactic points in the plot in a way that suits the reading experience.

This book was very easy to read. I finished the entire thing in under 5 hours, and I didn’t want to put this book down!

Plot (10)

There is not a ton that happens in this book, but that is probably because this is a story about characters, their relationships, and self-discovery. This is a character driven story with a relationship centered plot, which means that there isn’t going to be a ton of action. And that’s okay! This story is a beautiful and entertaining look into the characters’ struggles as young adults navigating asexuality in an overly sexualized world. The drama and relationship development is the plot in this story, and it is done exceptionally well. Additionally, this story has a beautiful and satisfying ending that will warm even the iciest of hearts.

Intrigue (10)

It is not hard to fall head over heels into this asexual love story, because the characters are highly addictive and their situations thrilling. The progression of the characters’ relationship happens in such a way that the reader is on the edge of their seat the entire time. The stakes are high between the main characters, and the reader is rooting for them the entire way, fumbles and all. This may not be a high stakes heist story, but it is a flawed and beautiful relationship that will have the reader guessing the characters’ actions and feelings the entire time.

Logic (10)

Some parts of this story were suspiciously convenient, but not unrealistic. We’ve all known someone with a destiny-like love story that raises the question, “what are the chances” and this story is no exception (in a good way). It is fun to read a story where the characters end up in highly entertaining and sometimes embarrassing situations, and that’s what this book does well. It doesn’t leave the reader feeling like something is off or like the story is interrupted by absurd plot points, which happens quite often in romances. The characters make decisions that real people in their mid-twenties would make, and they are far from perfect. Lastly, this may be a story about asexuality, but it can be read by anyone. Asexuality is explained in a way that is palatable and educational for someone who is not asexual or questioning. The message in this book is a highly informative and important one for those who are questioning or do not identify as asexual.

I am not asexual or gay and I found this story to be highly informative and relatable. Please, go in knowing what this book is about and keep an open mind. It is worth the read!

Enjoyment (10)

I thoroughly enjoyed this love story. I don’t personally read a lot of contemporary, romance, or m/m stories, but this book blew me away. I would consider this to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I read the eBook for my buddy read, but I will be purchasing the physical book for my shelves, because I loved it that much. I can definitely see myself rereading this book in the future, and I will continue to recommend it to anyone and everyone I meet.

Content Warnings

  • Discussions about exes, homophobia, sexuality, internalized acephobia, and sex. One character is extremely anxious on numerous occasions. Miscommunication.

Thank you for reading. Please, don’t forget to check out my review for Crier’s War by Nina Varela.

-Knight of Cups ❤

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