Title: Into You
Author: Jay Northcote
Length: 170 Pages (Kindle)
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
At a Glance: I adored this sweet little fairy tale of a story all the way to its angsty Freaky Friday core.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: What do you do when the body you wake up in isn’t yours?
Olly and Scott promised to be best friends forever. They grew up on the same street, went to the same school, and did everything together. But one hot summer night, teenage experimentation caused hurt feelings and confusion, and their friendship was destroyed.
Four years later they’re both eighteen years old and in their final term at school. Scott is a football star and Olly’s preparing for a main role in the school play. After a heated argument in the street—witnessed by their mysterious, elderly neighbour—they wake up the next morning stuck in each other’s bodies.
With no idea how to get back to normal, they have to co-operate in order to hide their secret. Spending time together rekindles their friendship, yet feelings run deeper for both of them. With the end of school fast approaching, the clock is ticking. Unless they discover how to change back, they could be stuck in the wrong bodies forever.
Review: There’s a scene in To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus Finch is talking to Scout about empathy, and he explains to her that you can’t ever really understand a person until you climb into their skin and walk around in it a bit. Now, before you think, what the hell does that have to do with this book? it fits, trust me, and there’s not a whole lot I love more about reading than running across a fresh premise in the M/M contemporary romance genre.
Jay Northcote’s Into You is a modern day fairy tale—nothing new there. It’s also a new adult coming out story—ditto. This is also a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers story—been there, read that too, right? So, what’s the hook? The twist in this novel is lure of the Freak Friday (without the lightheartedness) body swapping storyline that not only was something different but also introduces all sorts of interesting complexities about the idea of your consciousness walking around inside someone else’s body—specifically, the body of someone who’d hurt you on a soul deep level four years earlier. And, what to do when your consciousness is trapped inside of the body of that same someone you’ve wanted nothing more than to touch for a long time. Yeah, that part is exceptionally fun—into you in far out and unusual ways.
There’s a wonderful sentimentality to this story; that of childhood bonds and the promise of “friends forever.” Olly and Scott took this vow seriously—more so than most boys, I’m guessing—so when they broke, their pain cut a little deeper than for two teenagers who’d merely grown apart as they grew up. I loved the emotions tied into this part of the plot, and that of fate being unintentionally thwarted yet still, with a nudge from a bit of the mystical, finding a way to come full circle and fulfill a destiny.
One thing Northcote does so well in Into You, same as she’s done in every novel/novella I’ve read by her so far, is to create two characters whose story I wanted to be drawn into. I never once forgot that Olly and Scott are both teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, yet their experiences and feelings are never dismissed as simple teen angst or posed as gratuitous drama. The fact that Olly lived in Scott’s world, and Scott in Olly’s, offered a deeper empathy for everything from Olly getting to live with Scott’s parents and to make the contrast to his own family, to Scott living in Olly’s skin and discovering what it was like to live openly gay—no evasion or denial. The only challenge in the reading of this story was the constant need to remind myself who’s POV I was getting because of the body swapping (you’ll see what I mean when you read the book), but even that issue was minimal in comparison to how much I enjoyed the “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” motif.
Not all the magic in Into You is of the fairy tale variety. Love is a magic unto itself, and though Olly and Scott may have had to learn about that the hard way, once they worked it out I couldn’t help but get the feeling it’s going to be a lifelong lesson learned, complete with the requisite happily ever after.
Into You is currently available exclusively via Kindle Unlimited:
The sound of music playing pulled Scott from a thick blanket of sleep into
wakefulness. He lay curled on his side; his room was darker than usual, as though someone had come in and closed the blinds while he slept. His bed felt weird, softer than it should be, and it smelled different.
He sat up, blinking in confusion as he looked around. He took in the room, the details unclear in the half-light that crept around the edges of the blind, but it was enough for him to realise where he was.
The posters on the wall were new, but the layout hadn’t changed in four years.
What the fuck?
It wasn’t possible. Logic told Scott there was no way this could be happening.
He’d gone to sleep in his own bed—he hadn’t been drunk or high. So why the hell was he waking up in Olly’s room with no recollection of how he got there? And where the hell was Olly? The music that had woken him was coming from a phone on a docking station by the bed. He picked it up and pressed some buttons until it stopped. His brain was fogged with sleep and he couldn’t think clearly.
Scott got out of bed on shaky legs. His hip ached as though it was bruised.
Actually, his whole body felt weird. Perhaps he was sick? Maybe this was all some bizarre hallucination?
Pulling the cord to raise the blind, Scott flooded the room with light. He looked down at himself, only….
He closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened them again, he still didn’t see himself. His body was too thin, his skin too pale, the hair on his legs darker than usual, and he definitely didn’t own any snug purple briefs like the ones he was currently wearing.
Stomach roiling with disbelief and terror, Scott turned to the full-length mirror on the wall and blinked.
Olly’s reflection stared back looking as horrified as Scott felt. Scott raised his hands to his face, and so did Olly in the mirror.
“This isn’t happening,” he said.
The voice was Olly’s too, softer and a little higher-pitched than Scott’s own.
It was the weirdest, most vivid dream Scott had ever had.
He pinched himself hard. “Ouch!”
Why wasn’t he waking up?
Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep!
Olly shot up, heart pounding at the shrill sound. He opened his eyes and blinked in the sunlight.
Ugh. Too bright.
He looked around wildly and closed his eyes again, refusing to believe what he saw. Obviously he wasn’t awake yet because he couldn’t be in Scott’s room. He hadn’t set foot in Scott’s house in years.
Olly cracked his eyes open again but still saw the white walls, the posters of Scott’s football heroes that Olly remembered from years ago, and the freakishly tidy desk that definitely wasn’t his.
The alarm clock by the bed was still making an awful racket, so he found the button to silence it.
“Scott?” he said hesitantly, then coughed.
What the fuck was wrong with his throat? His voice was deep and rough sounding. Oh God, no, please don’t let him be getting a cold. He couldn’t afford to lose his voice with all the play rehearsals coming up.
He pushed the duvet off and swung his legs around to get out of bed. He’d find
Scott and work out what the hell was going on. Maybe he had some weird amnesia after his accident yesterday, although he hadn’t hit his head. There had to be some explanation for why he was apparently in Scott’s bed rather than his own.
Then Olly looked down at his legs—and froze.
They were thicker and more muscular than they should be. Olly only dreamed of having legs like that. The hairs on them were light brown instead of dark, the skin more tanned. He looked at his hands, they were all wrong too, thicker and sturdier than they should be. He lifted one to run it through his hair, the way he often did in times of crisis.
“What the fuck?” No long floppy fringe falling in his eyes. Instead he found short-cropped hair and his ear piercings were gone.
Now convinced he was dreaming, because that was the only possible explanation, Olly got up to look in the mirror. Scott’s handsome face stared back at him, the mouth slack with surprise and the blue eyes wide.
Olly shook his head in disbelief. No way could this be happening. No way. This was the stuff of Hollywood movies, not reality. But cold, creeping panic rose in his gut, because apart from the fact that he appeared to be in the wrong body, everything else felt normal. Way too normal for it to be a dream.
“No,” he said loudly, putting his hands up and touching Scott’s nose, Scott’s
cheekbones, Scott’s lips. He felt every brush of his fingertips. “Oh, Jesus Christ on a bike, this is not happening. No.”