What is it exactly that makes a book worth reading again and again and again?
Is it the characters and how we connect with them?
Is it the enigmatic boys and the brave girls?
Or maybe it’s the story itself—a small thing that we saw in the books that had happened with us and we owe ourselves to finish the book and love it?
With Upside Down, for me, it was all of this and more. But what bowled me over immediately was its setting.
Pretty, pretty, gorgeous Australia.
I’ve never been, though. God knows I want to, but what with being a full time student and getting increasingly busy every single day, it’s been close to impossible to breathe, let alone go out on a holiday. Also, Australia is way down under (one of the biggest things I love about that country) and it takes about 17 hours to get there from India, which is a bummer. (See: I hate being trapped in a huge metal tube with no where to go but down)
But there is literally no other place I could imagine Talia and Bran’s story taking place. Melbourne provides the beautiful setting for the story of a girl who over thinks and the boy with a heart of tin.
Natalia Stolfi is undoubtedly one of the most complex characters I’ve read. This girl is like a friggin’ onion! Layers upon layers upon layers. So much happened with her and yet she stands firm. Her sister’s death which she blames on herself is tragic and just completely heartbreaking. You can feel her pain, her misplaced guilt and how much she misses her sister in her every thought. There were so many parts in the book where I thought she’d snap and lash out, but from where this girl finds the strength, I do not know.
Bran, on the other hand, is a completely different. He’s stupid and hot and a moron and as of now, the owner of my heart. This guy is also closed off, right up until the end, and god. The way he is with Talia? Mind=Blown. He barges through her defenses, seeing her for her in a way that you and I probably won’t ever be able to do for another person. His affection is real, and even though he tries to protect his heart against love, we all know there is no such thing, don’t we?
But Talia and Bran together? They’re fucking brilliant! There is literally nothing I would change about the way the two of them are with each other. They. Are. Perfect.
Apart from the setting of the book—which I absolutely loved—what I also liked in Upside Down were the side characters. Each played an integral part—be it bringing comic relief, or an evil touch, or just a friend being a friend. For me, it was a completely fresh outlook—considering I’ve read wayyy too many books wherein side characters are exactly that—on the sides, making appearances when needed.
All in all, Upside Down is brilliance and Lia Riley, one talented author. She’s created this wonderful story that will stay with you and leave you wanting for more. And every moment that you aren’t reading the next book, you’ll die a small death. And you’ll want to keep Lia in your house forever and have little babies with her and never let her leave your sight and make her keep writing about Talia and Bran until her fingers lose their dexterity.
Not that I feel like that.
“Leaving is the only way to move forward. If I never get lost, I’ll never be found.”
“If I still had a heart, Talia’s the type of girl who’d shoot an arrow straight through its core.”
“He’s the kind of guy who in a sword fight would manage to coax a kiss off a nearby girl without missing a thrust.”
“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”
A British literature fanatic at heart, Lia considers Mr. Darcy and Edward Rochester as her fictional boyfriends. Her very patient husband doesn’t mind. Much. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. Right now, Icelandic hot springs and Scottish castles sound pretty sweet.