Friday, 3 February 2017

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout

After taking an unintentional hiatus from YA and actually fiction in general last year, this book definitely restored my faith in both.

Don't Look Back centres around Samantha, a mean girl who disappeared with her best friend Cassie and both were involved in some sort of freak accident. Samantha is found walking on the side of the road, covered in blood with absolutely no recollection of what happened. The book then follows her as she tries to piece together what happened to her. This process is pretty difficult because she becomes increasingly aware that she was a massive bitch, and really wants nothing to do with her old life. This amnesia has essentially given her a second chance at life to be a better person and right some of the people she's wronged; mainly her ex ex best friend Carson, who she cut out of her life years ago because his family were poorer than hers. All is well on that front, but Cassie is still missing. And there's someone else who was there that day, and will do whatever it takes to keep Samantha quiet. 

The memory loss aspect of this book was executed very well. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous the minute I realised this was going to be an amnesia story. It's just too easy to have all the plot holes. We've all come across books/films where characters are meant to have amnesia but then remember things that then go unexplained by the writers. Here, the process is a lot more realistic in that the memory gain, is non-existent for a long time. And when it happens, it's very little and often unsubstantial - right to the end - meaning that when trippy stuff starts happening, you're in Samantha's shoes and just as confused. This was a really smart move on Jennifer L Armentrout's part because it allowed her to throw in a lot of twists and turns, right until the very end. For that reason, it's a quick read because you just want to know what happens and the book really doesn't give anything away until the very end. As for the ending itself, I was so preoccupied with trying to guess what happened, I didn't see it coming at all. And for a book that builds up so much, that ending was so shocking and juicy and satisfying.

I loved how the nature of the book changes into a whodunit maybe half-way through because from then on as a reader, you start trying to work it out and whoever you think is the culprit changes from chapter to chapter. And there were times where it felt like a Gossip Girl episode which just made it so much fun to read.

Ooo and also, there's a really slow burning but cute at the same time romance going on here which was just a nice touch and gives the story another dimension.

The book however isn't without fault. I found the characters to be slightly cliched - Samantha the rich mean girl (for no real reason other than she grew up and realised she was rich so decided to be a bitc about it) who becomes nice; all the richer adults are pretty awful people and; we've got sets of disapproving parents who don't want their children to date "poorer" people but are in fact deeply unhappy in their own lives. Though she does this well, I don't think Jennifer L Armentrout has done anything differently on that front.

That aside, the book sets out to be a thriller and if that's what you're looking for, this is a bloody good one. 

4/5
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