Literally me throughout the whole book – I’m FLYING next month! Can we not have the delays and weird things happening? 😂 Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours for choosing me to be a part of this tour! Here’s the schedule if you want to see others’ thoughts on the book or see their posts!
This is a mostly spoiler-free review with slight allusions towards events in the book.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the blog tour company (TBR and Beyond Tours) and the publisher in return for a free and honest review. The tour banner and other book tour blog information (purchase links, author information etc) are provided by TBR and Beyond Tours. The book’s synopsis is taken from Goodreads. Any opinions expressed are my own.
Title: Before Takeoff
Author: Adi Alsaid
Year Published: 2022
Number of Pages: 336
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Imprint of Penguin Random House)
Cover Art/Designer: Various Getty and Shutterstock.com images
Genre: Young Adult ~ Literary Fiction ~ Fantasy
Links: Goodreads || The Storygraph
Format read in: E-arc (provided by blog tour company)
CW/TW: Racism, violence, discussions of flights being delayed (in case you have a big fear of that/other plane-related issues). Deaths.
The Sun Is Also a Star meets Jumanji when two teens meet and fall in love during a layover-gone-wrong at the Atlanta airport in this thrilling new novel from the author of Let’s Get Lost!
James and Michelle find themselves in the Atlanta airport on a layover. They couldn’t be more different, but seemingly interminable delays draw them both to a mysterious flashing green light–and each other.
Where James is passive, Michelle is anything but. And she quickly discovers that the flashing green light is actually… a button. Which she presses. Which may or may not unwittingly break the rules of the universe–at least as those rules apply to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.
Before they can figure up from down, strange, impossible things start happening: snowstorms form inside the B terminal; jungles sprout up in the C terminal; and earthquakes split the ground apart in between. And no matter how hard they try, it seems no one can find a way in or out of the airport. James and Michelle team up to find their families and either escape the airport, or put an end to its chaos–before it’s too late.
I moved from wanting to give this book 4 stars or 3 stars a couple of times. I finally decided on 3 and a half stars (but on Goodreads it’ll show 3. Because as we all know, they haven’t added half stars yet. I don’t really have a graphic for a half star (need to make one), so I just added it as text. It’s not to say that I didn’t like this, I really did! It just also confused me a lot.
What I mean when I say ‘it confused me’ I meant that the comps are The Sun is Also a Star meets Jumanji. Now I’ve never read The Sun is Also a Star, and neither have I watched it (it’s been adapted into a movie this year? Last year?). But I love Jumanji. I’ve watched the original multiple times and the new sequels a couple of times. I love all of them. But I think I focused too much on the Jumanji side of the comp when I should’ve focused on the other side – even if I’ve never read the other comp.
Yes, this does have the fantasy element in it but also I wanted more? I did really enjoy the utter absurdity of snow falling in the airport and plants growing everywhere. Their phones being permanently on 100% and anytime they tried to post about what was happening – they just couldn’t. Like was it the airport somehow stopping them? Who knows and I quite liked that!
I like the writing and that the author wrote an omniscient third person point of view. That was definitely different than other books I’ve read (I don’t even know of any other). There was often a feeling of show, don’t tell (meaning it felt like the author just described everything rather than letting the reader read about it), and I’m not a big fan of that.
The plot was interesting (even though I wanted more 😄). I did however become annoyed a lot of times as I’m like “do they not… think it’s super weird to have snow falling IN the airport? Why are they just walking around and holding hands?
I liked the characters enough, even though James and Michelle were instalove – not a favourite of mine, unfortunately. I like to build up to the relationship most of the time. It’s rare that I’ll enjoy an instalove and that’s usually due to the writing style or the plot/characters.
I also didn’t like their voices or personality as much as I had hoped to. Michelle felt like she was written as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Or like she only watches foreign art films and her favourite thing is to go to old bookstores – that type of quirky, I’m not like other girls vibe. She also kept giving all of these big speeches to James even though she’s just 2 years older than him. But other than that I liked her fierceness. She had plans and she wanted to fulfil them. I could get behind that!
I liked James a lot. He was funny and I liked that he just didn’t really know what he wanted to do a lot of times. Which, I know, is probably a weird thing to say, but I liked that. I would actually want to see more characters not knowing what their next step is – in any genre.
Unfortunately in this instance I would not be walking around with a stranger 😆. No matter how hot they are! I’ll be trying to get back to my parents. Like there has to be service stairs or normal stairs? Something the staff uses or a back entrance? I’d make a huge fuss over it so I think I would’ve liked to have seen that in the book.
There was a Harry Potter reference (referring to a Boggart) and you could’ve literally just replaced it with a normal shapeshifter and the reader would’ve understood?
Have you travelled or want to? If so have you ever got into a huge delay situation? My mom and I actually did – our plane from Johannesburg to Sydney was so delayed 😭 we got free food, though!
Have you heard of this book? Or read other books by the author? I think I’ll pick up another of Alsaid’s books to see if I like the author more!
About the Author: Born and raised in Mexico City, Adi Alsaid is the author of several young adult novels including Let’s Get Lost, We Didn’t Ask For This, and North of Happy, a Kirkus Best Book nominee. He’s also the editor of Come On In: 15 stories of immigration and finding home. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife and two cats, where he occasionally spills hot sauce on things (and cats).