The Opposite of Here was a different book than I was expecting. That's not to say it was a bad book- just different. I thought this was going to be a YA murder mystery from the synopsis, and I guess it was- briefly- but it was also more. Natalie is on a cruise with her parents and three best friends- Charlotte, Nora and Lexi- and the vacation is intended to celebrate Natalie's birthday, as well as hopefully take her mind off the death of her boyfriend. Natalie is there because she has to be, she's not really excited about all the hoopla, but things start to get interesting when she meets a guy and they hit it off. The only problem is, after their initial meeting he disappears, and there are fears someone- maybe him- went overboard when the captain orders a head count.
Rumors swirl of course, and Natalie is terrified he went over, based on some cryptic things he said, but then it appears there may be more going on. Ray, the missing guy, may have had secrets in his past that explain some of his actions, but Natalie has trouble piecing it together even as it becomes increasingly doubtful that he, in fact, went overboard. Is he still on the ship? Did someone go overboard? And, to make matters worse, what's going on with her friend Nora, who seems to have had more than a passing interest in her now dead boyfriend Paul?
It's hard to say much more without spoiling the plot, and to be honest I was not sold on some of the things that took place. My suspension of disbelief failed me at points, not because the events are way out there necessarily (although yeah- maybe) but just because I didn't see it happening that way. Ray is like a walking trope- the hot guy who's witty, aloof, and dashing, and he and Nat have an instant connection. But he was annoying to me because he never felt like a real person. He felt like a walking plot point. Her friends were better, for the most part- I especially liked Lexi- and the Nora subplot was interesting.
There are some surprises I didn't see coming, and I also felt the author captured the feel of the cruise ship pretty well, but some of the actual plot twists made me roll my eyes. The whole point of the mystery, the big reveal, was again not something I could really buy into. It just didn't feel plausible to me, and that was hard to overlook. I liked Natalie, and this book touches on sexual assault as well, so trigger warning for that. I also really liked that her feelings of "true love" weren't quite the be-all and end-all of her young existence, and I thought it was refreshing to see that from a teen standpoint. I mean she had feelings for Paul obviously, and burgeoning feelings for Ray, but she comes to realize that maybe it's NOT "true love", and that there's no rush?
So all in all this was different than what I expected- rather than a murder mystery as such it's more about relationships. It's not really suspenseful at all, and had some eye rolling moments, but I don't want to dismiss it because it also has a lot to offer. And I have to say, there is a twist or revelation at the end that was one of those moments where you put the book down and just think- oy. Did that happen?