Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales.
Only Mostly Devastated is a really original retelling of Grease. It follows the protagonist, Ollie’s, journey of navigating a new high school after a summer romance with Will. When Ollie arrives and runs into the sweet boy from the beach, he is beyond surprised and, of course, overjoyed at being reunited. The problem? This version of Will is a bit of a jerk… And only one of them is out.
I think it’s safe to say that Only Mostly Devastated is up there with my best contemporary reads from this year. It was unlike anything else I’d read, and a lovely, refreshing read. Gonzales did a really great job of striking the right balance between fun, light moments and heavier ones which explored some really tough topics, which I’ll touch on later on in my review. Overall, this book had something for everyone, and I’d really recommend it!
Of course, the main focus of the book was Ollie and Will’s romance. Gonzales definitely crafted a really delightful romance between the two and it was lovely to read. There were so many different cute moments the two shared and it definitely made me root for them even more – they were just so easy to ship! Despite this, they certainly had their fair share of obstacles to overcome, but I thought this only made it more realistic as in real life things will never be smooth sailing all the time.
Of course, the drama was a crucial part of the book, and formed the base of Ollie and Will’s issues. Gonzales incorporated just the right amount of drama for it not to be too petty and unrealistic, and it definitely added an extra dimension to Ollie and Will’s relationship. Of course, the main root of the drama was Will not being out, but their combined groups also had their fair share of drama – there were certainly some interesting fights, although they were quickly resolved.
Friendship was definitely a really important theme in this book. It was really lovely to see all the different characters and how they interacted as a group. Despite all of their differences, the group shared a very close bond, which was a delight to read. I think my favourite friendship overall would definitely be the one between Ollie and Lara – despite getting off to a rough start, they developed a really great friendship, and I really enjoyed watching their interactions.
Of course, family was also a really important theme. Ollie’s family was extremely important to him, and it was really nice to see how much they meant to him. Ollie’s aunt unfortunately suffered from a terminal illness and this was written very sensitively by Gonzales, with her writing it in a really raw and realistic manner. That being said, if terminal illnesses and the death of a loved ones are triggers for you, I’d advise you to give this a miss.
The character development was also written really well. I feel like I’ve mentioned this in quite a few of my recent reviews, but in all honesty I think that just goes to show how good current YA novels are. This one felt particularly noteworthy because it wasn’t just the protagonist who progressed – side characters did, too. One key example of this is Will, whose development is definitely some of the best I’ve read in a while.
Obviously Will’s development wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for his overwhelming struggle with his sexual orientation. Will identified as bisexual, and a couple of other characters were also on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, which was really great to see. I think lots of current YA books are really taking strides to have better representation, and Only Mostly Devastated only added to that. It was really lovely to see Gonzales include such a wide range of characters, and I loved how diverse the book was.
Of course, I can’t finish the review before talking about the Grease aspect. Grease is actually one of my favourite films, so I really enjoyed reading a cool retelling of it. Aside from the romance, there were also a wide array of other similarities between the two – for example the two friendship groups, which were clearly The Pink Ladies and T Birds equivalent. Despite all the similarities, the book was obviously still very different, and Gonzales did a really brilliant job of updating the movie!
Overall, I would recommend Only Mostly Devastated to any fan of Grease. I loved the similarities between the two, which was especially interesting to read as I actually rewatched Grease when I was halfway through this book! I’d also recommend it to any contemporary fan, or someone looking for a great summer read – this would be perfect for the beach!
I hope you enjoyed this review!