Only Mostly Devastated is a YA reimagining of Grease, in which a summer fling becomes a complicated school situation. Ollie and Will’s summer fling seemed perfect, but when Ollie didn’t go back home to California but stayed with his family to help look after his sick aunt, he finds himself at a new school in North Carolina. It turns out Will goes to the school too, and the guy from the summer isn’t the same amongst his straight basketball team friends. Ollie doesn’t want to spend all his time pining after someone who isn’t ready for a relationship, but his new friends aren’t enough to distract him, and Will seems conflicted about what he wants.
The first thing to say is that I’ve never seen Grease. I know many of the songs and some ideas from it, but otherwise nothing, and this wasn’t detrimental to enjoying the book at all. The book seemed most focused both on the difficulties of not being straight in high school and navigating that, as well as other teenage issues and family emergencies. The tapestry of different characters and their personalities worked well to make it more than just the synopsis, though Ollie made a good protagonist, caring but also in need of realising when he was being self-absorbed. The amount of the plot that deals with someone trying to make sure nobody realises they aren’t straight did make me worry that it would feature someone being outed against their will (pun unintended), but the plot lampshades this as an issue earlier on rather than doing it.
Only Mostly Devastated is a fun YA romance that knows it is updating a few tropes and playing around with different high school romance narratives. The protagonist is three-dimensional and is given more going on in his life than the romance or the circumstances that cause the plot, and the story is enjoyable if not groundbreaking.
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