Quite a new book this time as well.
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Title: Don't Look Back
Release date: 15th of April 2014
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Mystery
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 368 in paperback format
Source: Bought from the Bookdepository
What if you had the chance to start again...but only if you promised never to look back? Samantha is popular, rich, and seemed to have it all...until the night she and her best 'frenemy' Cassie disappeared and only Sammy resurfaced, with no recollection of who she is or what happened.
Sammy's a stranger in her own life - a life she no longer wants any part of. Losing her memory is a chance to start again. Then Sammy begins receiving mysterious notes warning her about that night, urging her to not look back. But she can't let it go. As she starts poking around in her past she begins to remember...and something sinister begins to surface.
I took this up mainly because of the blurb, due to it sounding really exciting, dangerous, mysterious and full of twists. In the end, I did get all of that, but at a lesser degree than I was expecting.
Let’s start with the aspects I enjoyed:
The story was more mature than your average YA in regards to sexuality amongst teens, so from my side, this is always a plus when I feel that high-schooler’s are portrayed realistically in that regard.
Always a plus, unless I adore the story to bits, is that the book is a standalone.
It doesn’t always seem like a huge deal, but when the pace of the book is great and the excitement and tension is divided appropriately in a story, then it can be a big plus in enabling the book to really reach the reader and pull them in without giving any longer than necessary breaks from the gripping atmosphere. I liked how this was created in this.
The romance was also something to appreciate, especially the fact that it wasn’t in center stage and didn’t overshadow the mystery and Samantha’s quest for making sense of her past. Carlson was a nice support storyline who provides her guidance, boosted confidence and was the second participant of some sweet and swoony moments. In addition, friends to lovers romance is the best.
I also really liked Samantha’s brother, he came across a simply cool guy who supported his sister whoever she was, but was also honest and didn’t take her drama.
Things that didn’t impress:
I had figured out who the villain was already halfway in, so the mystery itself didn’t really engage me that much anymore after that. Instead, I was just interested in seeing how things would unfold. There were many hints to the identity of the person and having watched too much Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, it wasn’t that hard to put two and two together.
Why does the popular crowd always have to be mean, shallow and, often as well, dumb? Just something that has started to slightly annoy me, having this cliché in too many YA books already.
Maybe it’s just me, but the change from the old Samantha to the new was bothering me a bit. How can someone be so evil and then suddenly so good, isn’t there still some pieces of your character left in your unconsciousness that should reflect through, not only the good? Or is it a clean slate you get? I’m no doctor, but she went from one extreme to another and it didn’t fully glue together for me.
Samantha was pretty bad before the amnesia – the kind of person you love to hate and who embraces the hate because that means fear and fear means power – and getting to know her previous self didn’t make her a fan of herself, so she decided to act the opposite. While the 180 degree character change was hard to buy, she definitely deserves credit for trying to right the wrongs.
While I did like the book and this new route the author is taking compared to her previous YA novels is more than welcome, this story is more on the 3,5 side that a full 4. There were a couple of cons, which I can overlook if I absolutely love a book, but here they played a bigger role regarding me enjoying the story this time, so I can’t just toss them aside. But this is just me, I’ve read that the overall consensus is that this story rocks!