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Throwback Time: Once Upon A Kiss

Robin Palmer - Once Upon A Kiss
Expected publication: January 5, 2016 by Speak
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find on: Amazon, Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: 4.5/5

So much has happened since 1986, and Zoe Brenner is about to find out just how much.

From the author of the book that inspired the Disney original movie Geek Charming!

It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

* I received a review copy via PenguinTeen in exchange for an honest review.
I love all things vintage. I was born in '94. Sadly, I hadn't actually reigned through the '90s myself - at least, not too much, anyway - but I have great memories of Walkmans and video cassettes. I remember getting a bright green Walkman for my birthday and overplaying my Hannah Montana CD on it, and I still have ancient VHS tapes featuring Sailor Moon. Once upon a time, I had about a thousand Sailor Moon keychains and dolls and I think someone threw them out? hold me) Also, still have a few Powerpuff Girls cassettes and they still work.

Also, Courage The Cowardly Dog, Powerpuff Girls, The Magic School Bus, and Fuller House - the happily-awaited sequel to Full House, which is coming there February, HAVE MERCY - are currently streaming on Netflix for those who obviously need those in their lives.

My sister was a child of the '90s. Well, more a teenager of the '90s. In a few photo albums of ours, there are snapshots of her with wild hair and dark lipstick and acrylic nails. I used to make fun of her style, but literally, I love it today. I hate to sound like one of the kids on Twitter who are like, "I wish I was born in the '50s!" because y'all could drink milkshakes in vintage cafés and wear crinolines skirts. Yeah, um, okay, but there was also the Cold War, so calm yourself.

I was telling my sis a while back how I wish I'd been part of the '90s generation, and she was like, "Well, you didn't miss much." Sometimes, I feel like I did, though. I hate to sound like a total cheeseball but it would've been nice to see TLC or Nirvana or No Doubt in concert. Okay, I do sound like a loser, but let me enjoy my glorious fashion and films and music in peace.

Life wouldn't be complete without a little something from Duckie, no? ;-)
At first, the story takes place in the '80s. '86, to be exact. Zoe Brenner is quite happy with her life. She and her best friend, Jonah, are inseparable. Her parents have invented "Discocize", the latest exercise trend, and she's absolutely infatuated with Judd Nelson. I mean, rightly so. Have you seen the man?


The only sore point in Zoe's life is her arch nemesis, stereotypical mean girl, Andrea. As they're both running for class president, they aren't the greatest friends and while Zoe has to beg for votes, Andrea earns them easily. Their speeches play a significant role. So when all the votes are tallied, the class election is a landslide - mainly due to Andrea's popularity - and Andrea is decreed president, much to the chagrin of Zoe.

Eventually, Zoe goes back to her sad life (sort-of but not really) as an employee at Hot Dog on a Stick. But after a traumatizing corndog incident, she's fired that same day and dashes to her favorite clothing store owned by a sweet gal named Vicky with a packet of Fun Dip. Terri presents her a fabulous Lycra minidress and she runs to try it on. So after walking out of the dressing room, she's stunned to find herself under the gaze of Andrea's boyfriend, the ultimate tool, Brad Bundy, who owns an "Easter egg-like palette of polo shirts."

Zoe couldn't be more peeved at his presence. So when she starts choking on Fun Dip and Brad rushes in with his CPR training, she's horrified in more ways than one.

Then, everything goes dark.

Then, Zoe awakens in her bed.

Then, she discovers peculiar items in her room and her brother mentioning something called "Instagram" and a closet full of pink things, and something called Starbucks. The year is 2016 and Fun Dip is the culprit. It's soon discovered Andrea is her new best friend, Brad is her boyfriend, Zoe has become the queen bee, and Jonah wants nothing to do with her and has found a new best friend.

Like I said, her only friends are Andrea and Brad, who have become semi-decent people in 2016. The 2016 versions of Andrea and Brad were so loyal and genuine. Though I mostly liked Zoe, she treated them terribly and I wish she made an effort to like them. And in an attempt to win back her fellow classmates and discard her Regina George image, she appeals to run for student body president again in 2016, find clothes to her liking, and befriend Jonah.

There was a lot to love. Definitely, Jonah. He was super super super cute. The 2016 versions of Andrea and Brad, obviously. 1986. Fashion throwbacks. (Gold sunglasses and Lycra miniskirts = LOVE.) Even Zoe's family is fantastic. Both versions of them. There were even a few quirky, hilarious, sitcom-worthy moments. I have so many things to geek over, I could seriously type all day. For now, grab the book when you can. Because what's there not to love?


  1. Ohh the premise for this sounds AWESOME. I'm technically a 90s kid?!? But I have such a horrible memory that I basically have forgotten my complete childhood...heheh. But I recently read Grunge Gods and Graveyards which was all 90s themed and fajdsklafd I LOVED IT. <3 So I'm actually tempted to look this one up! I loved the review. :D
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. ALL '90S EVERYTHANG. I'm a '90s child, too, and SAME. I basically have zero memory of my childhood, too. Ooh, Grunge Gods & Graveyards sounds so good! I'm definitely checking it out! Thanks, Cait! :D

  2. Replies
    1. Of course! Thanks for stopping by! :)


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