Book Review: Against All Odds By Aliaa El-nashar

Author: Aliaa El-Nashar
Genre: YA Romance
Goodreads Summary: The Story revolves around:
-A boy called Damien who seems to have it all. He’s rich, good-looking and athletic. He’s also arrogant, obnoxious and a major player. Damien is one of 5 children who seem to not get along, until one day Damien meets Alexis and his life is turned inside out.
-A girl called Alexis who has trust issues due to her parents. Her best friends mean the world to her, and she refuses to date anyone that doesn’t fit completely in her ‘Perfect Guy’ list.
They’re thrown together a lot and start to face inner demons they’ve hidden away for so long.


I haven’t read a YA romance in quite a while so I was excited to get my teeth into Against All Odds. It seemed to me like your stereotypical teen romance; however, there were, to my surprise, some deeper family issues addressed as well.

I thought the first half of the novel was very good. A wide variety of characters were introduced and the way that their lives and deeper issues all connected was very interesting; however, the second half did drag a little. I’d say it’s pretty obvious what happens at the end of the book so I spent most of the second half waiting for it to happen. That said, the anticipation for the happy ending kept me reading and reading until I had finished the book.

What’s interesting is that this book is written from several different perspectives which gives such a great insight into all the characters feelings. This is very important in this novel as most people’s feelings go unsaid, at least until the end passages. I think this brought my closer to all the characters and I, as a reader, felt much more involved in the story. As the story was told from several perspectives, an element of humour was added as it was funny to see the miscommunication and naivety of the characters.

I’m not really sure why, but I really have thing for rich and arrogant boys in books, so Damien was definitely my favourite character. His character changes completely over the course of the novel and it’s really interesting to see how love can change a person. I also liked the female protagonist, Alexis, as she appeared to be a strong character, who was actually a bit mushy on the inside. All the characters have something deeper going on in their lives and more and more is learned as the plot gradually unravels. Usually I don’t like it when books have too many characters because I get awfully confused and start to question the relevance of just about everything, but I liked that there were a lot of people involved in this story because it meant that there was lots going on and lots of different thoughts being thrown around (in a good way).

All in all, I really enjoyed Against All Odds and thought it was an engaging teen read with some surprising plot twists and turns and ultimately, the happy ending we’ve all been searching for.

{ Author Interview }

1. What inspired you to write Against All Odds?

*Against All Odds started as a descriptive essay for an English class in school, I was 16, turning on 17. The English teacher had been flexible and would allow us to hand in the assignments as we do them, which was good because with a deadline I usually ended up with something so mundane. Suddenly I was inspired and came up with this scene on the hill. A girl looking through a fog of sand not sure whether the guy she hadn’t realized she was in love with was dead or alive as his motorbike fell off the cliff. Then I started to describe the mixture of emotions she went through till she saw he was alive, but now she realized she was in love and didn’t know what to do with it. It was a short descriptive essay. A friend of mine read it, then begged me to write it into an actual story. I had to create background stories for each character, lives, and identities, then a storyline that would lead to this particular plot.

2. Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life?
* I personally believe a writer accidentally pours a bit of himself in the characters he chooses, sometimes in the heroes and other times the villains. Sometimes he pours someone he knows into them. So, my characters are made up, yet they hold qualities in me or my family or friends.

3. Which character did you most enjoy writing? 
*I think that would have to be a tie between William and Edmund. They’re my favourite characters, though William more than Edmund too. I can’t wait to tell their stories! William is so vague, quiet, you never know what he’s thinking. Edmund is so mysterious, he’s got all this horrible history and you realize you’ve never known them. Their characters run very deep.
4. Will you be writing a sequel to Against All Odds?
*I’ve hinted to a lot of side stories in the book and hope to see them through. Each and every Martinez sibling has a special story in my head, and I can’t wait to tell it. Even Scott, Clay and Tristan.

5. What’s your all-time favourite book and why?
*Wuthering Heights. That book is brilliant. It’s what got me into reading in the first place. The book is so manipulative and has you so emotionally invested in it, you can’t help but feel alongside the characters. What I love the most about it is that there’s not one character in the book that you hold the same opinion of from start to end.

6. If you could swap lives with any literary character, which would you choose?
*Penelope Featherington from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series. Her story is told in ‘Romancing Mr. Bridgerton’. I am a strong believer that the perfect era was England in the 1800’s. Not sure why, but the idea of reading, riding, painting, all those carriages, balls, dances, summering in the countryside fascinates me. Penelope in particular, I see myself so much in her and would love to be her. The perfect era, the perfect character.  I feel a kinship towards her and we have a lot in common. My mother forcing me into functions and family luncheons I’d rather not be in. Me not being the best looking of my siblings. Basically a wallflower at gatherings, or in life in general, not many people notice me and I just watch others. But she leads this super amazing secret life, everyone loves her without knowing it, she’s ok with not depending on a man for her livelihood and makes something of herself. She’s smart, funny, an ugly duckling only to those who don’t bother knowing the real her. She gives me hope that one day my ‘Colin Bridgerton’ will finally stop procrastinating and wasting about and find me!

 7. Which author, if any, would you compare yourself to?
*Wow, compare myself to? I wish I was as good as many others. I wouldn’t compare to them, everyone has their particular style, story and everything. I love a lot of authors, and their writings and style; like Meg Cabot and Julia Quinn.

8. Do you have any advice for budding young writers?
*My advice would be to never give up, let their creative energies roll, and that a writer never really stops writing so might as well get used to it being a part of their daily routines. It’s more fun that way, a dull bus ride can seem like the most exciting thing ever if you have the perfect ideas rolling in your head.

9. What are you working on next? 
*I am working on two stories simultaneously. One, the sequel to ‘Against All Odds’, being Edmund’s story. The other, a fantasy story very different to this one.

10. Finally, if you were a biscuit, what sort of biscuit would you be? 🙂
*I’d be one of those delicious digestive cookies you eat with tea. Not the ones with chocolate though, plain ones are so much better.

{ Author Guest Post }

Feline Fashion Consultant.
I woke up, washed up, went to my room, stood in front of my cupboard and as always I had no idea what to wear. Normally I don’t even give a damn what I wear, as long as all the right parts of me are covered, why care? Most of the time my clothes doesn’t even match, the colors would be a mess on a canvas, and I also don’t coordinate it with the weather going around either.

Today on the other hand is one of the rare days where I actually DO care about what I am about to wear because it’s a special occasion where I am forced to wear ‘formal’. Formal is usually a state of dress I run like the wind from because, who wants to dress formally? I mean really?! My basic outfits are casual. I only own 2 high heel shoes and they’ve been with me forever. I don’t own normal shoes, just Converse and trainers. Though I do have a few flats – again have been with me forever. But I am no more comfortable in flats than I am in heels.

Anyhow, back on topic. I found an outfit that I think a ctually looked formal. The black trousers, the white shirt, though I wasn’t sure if they fit together, so I went to the most trusted confidante of mines to ask for her opinion. Her royal highness was rolling on the rug – naturally I never got what so fascinated her with said rug, but if her highness wanted to roll in it, then why not? I cleared my throat to get her attention, but she was on a roll – no pun intended – and wouldn’t pay me any attention. So I just started with my question anyway “What do you think?” She looked up all of a sudden, surprised about me deeming myself worthy of her royal presence, but after looking me in the eye -obviously to warn me off such a tactical error again later – she looked me up and down then responded “mee-uw mee-uw”, not the normal “meeeooowwws” I usually get when I’ve clearly committed a folly, it even held a majestic drawl the way she said it, so I took that as a good sign indeed.

I mean sure, I guess by now I should have learned her language, she has clearly learned mine – and chosen to ignore whatever I say – I on the other hand have been remiss with my “Feline-guistics” but I’ve been so busy.

I’d just like to thank Aliaa for answering all my questions with such detail and for writing a fab guest post! 🙂

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