On the Sidelines: A Review of ONCE by Anna Carey

Once (Eve, #2) 
Anna Carey
320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: MEH

Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?

Brimming with danger and star-crossed romance, and featuring a vivid dystopian landscape, this electrifying follow-up to Eve, which bestselling author Lauren Kate called “a gripping, unforgettable adventure—and a fresh look at what it means to love” is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes adventure of The Hunger Games and the irresistible love story of Romeo and Juliet

   Once is a sequel that once you pick up, you remember nothing of the trilogy’s debut. You remember bits and pieces, shadows of thoughts, but in the end, you don’t know if its from the first book or another book you read.

   At least, that’s how it was for me.

   I did remember one thing from Eve pretty clearly, though: the ending. The cliffhanger that left me torn and saddened.

   Once starts off three months after the ending of Eve. Eve is still trying to forget the events that occurred three months ago, but she can’t help it. She will forever be plagued with her past. But suddenly, her past is nothing compared to the present – and her future. I admit, I never saw that twist coming. We went through a whole novel thinking one way, only to have it flip to something else entirely about a quarter of the way through Once.

   Despite the twists, the desperate action scenes, the heartfelt emotions Eve felt, I felt nothing. I was on the sidelines, far, far away, looking at everything, but feeling nothing. I thoroughly enjoyed Eve, so it was a major disappointment that Once fell short for me.

   Once was a sequel that didn’t lack in plot. It wasn’t a sequel that suffered from ‘second-book-syndrome’. There was just something lacking – whether it be description, emotion, I don’t know. I wasn’t hooked, or able to sit still and read it. It didn’t have that captivation I expected and looked forward to.

   And despite it all, I will still read the third installment, Rise. Though the cliffhanger ending didn’t leave me ‘hanging’ as I would have liked to, I would like to see what happens, if only out of curiosity. But don’t take my word for it! I’ve seen some raving reviews for the sequel, and you might just like it more than me.

Add ONCE to Goodreads | Find Anna on Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Disclosure: This review is based on an advanced copy of the book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.

June 28, 2012



  1. Reply


    June 29, 2012

    Hm, bummer. I really liked the first book. Guess I should lower expectations on this one so I'm not completely disappointed.

  2. Reply


    June 29, 2012

    I've heard lots of mixed things about Eve and Once, now that I think about it. I'll probably end up borrowing it from the library, but I'm glad the plot didn't lack and it wasn't that type of book that ended up to be worse than the first book. :)

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***

  3. Reply

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

    June 29, 2012

    Ohhhh no, what a bummer you didn't enjoy this one! I LOVED it, and I was actually in a twist of emotions the entire time I was reading it!! I think I probably cried through 3/4 of the book… Oh well, we can't love them all!

  4. Reply

    Mimi Valentine

    June 29, 2012

    Awww, it's a meh-worthy book? That's too bad! I actually really liked Eve too and was super-curious about Once. But even though it didn't captivate you as much as you wanted it to, I'm glad that it doesn't at least follow the second-book-syndrome — that's always something to look forward to :)

    Thanks so much for the awesome honest review, Hafsah! Hopefully I enjoy this book a little more :) <3

  5. Reply

    Sierra Abrams

    June 30, 2012

    You know, as much as I've heard “meh” things about these books, I actually liked “Eve” a lot and am super excited to try “Once” for myself. I'm setting my expectations lower, though, just in case.

    Great review! :D

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  6. Reply

    Gina @ My Precious

    July 16, 2012

    Hmmm, what an honest, excellent, heart felt review. I love it. You gave precise reasons for your dissatisfaction with the book. I too loved EVE. I'm just beginning ONCE. I'm totally with you on what I remember from EVE – zip – with the exception of the crazy cliffhanger ending. I'm hoping I enjoy this book, but only time will tell. I'm excited to read about the unexpected twists you mention.

  7. Reply


    July 28, 2012

    No. That really really blows. I so wanted this book to be amazing. Sad face here.

  8. Reply


    July 28, 2012

    Thanks for the review. Made me second think about getting it. Great review.

  9. Reply


    July 28, 2012

    Thanks for the review. Made me second think about getting it. Great review.

  10. Reply


    July 31, 2012

    While I didn't enjoy Once as much as Eve I still really love this series. There's something about it that's utterly disturbing.

  11. Reply


    October 19, 2012

    I enjoyed this one a bit more than you did I think, but you're right, there was something missing. I was waiting for more of a connection, I think. I'm really curious to see how the trilogy will end – hopefully she'll blow us away!

  12. Reply


    November 5, 2012

    I haven't read this series, but I have heard really good things about Eve, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Once.

  13. Reply

    Aimee Nelson

    November 12, 2012

    bummer you didnt like this one!! I love This series!! It is one of my favorites!!! I love a book that leaves you thinking about it long after it over, and this is def one of them! I still think about Eve till this day!! Cant wait for the next one!