Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Thriller
My Rating: 9/10 (4/5 on Goodreads)
Recommended for: Anyone looking for an addicting read that will keep you guessing and engrossed the entire way through.

One night, Samantha and her best friend Cassie went missing. When Samantha is found on the side of the road, she has no memory of how she got there and absolutely no recollection of her life before that moment. As she re-discovers her life, she discovers that despite seemingly having everything- a rich family, a hot boyfriend, and insane popularity- the old Samantha was the epitome of a mean girl. The more she discovers about her old life, the more she hates the person she used to be. But, while trying to get back to her normal life, she can't stop thinking about the night that she went missing. Why did they disappear? What happened? And most importantly, where is Cassie?

Don't Look Back follows Samantha's attempts to discover the person that she was and the person that she wants to become, all while trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the night that stole her memories from her.

Before reading Don't Look Back, I was in a bit of a reading slump. I've heard on several occasions that Jennifer L. Armentrout's books are really addicting, so I decided to pick up the one with the premise that spoke to me the most. And y'all, this book did not disappoint. This was definitely one of the most addicting books that I have read in a long time. I picked it up around 2 in the morning, intending to just do a little reading before I went to sleep. I had 2 presentations the next day, but before I knew it, somehow it was 5 A.M. and I was about halfway through the book. I was forced to put it down, but picked it up ASAP the next day and finished it. I was completely hooked on this book and engrossed in it from page 1.

That, I think, is the strongest aspect of this book. Armentrout's writing is incredibly compelling and engrossing and totally sucks you in. She keeps you constantly guessing as to what is going on, and once you think you've started to figure something out, she throws something else into the mix that confuses you once again. She adds in little revelations often enough that it keeps you completely intrigued and invested, but with wide enough gaps that you have enough time to formulate theories. She keeps you constantly on your toes and it's wonderful

Now for the not-as-great aspect about the book. When I finished the book, I immediately went on Goodreads and gave it 5 stars out of 5, because duh. I couldn't even manage to put the book down-- how could that not deserve 5 stars? But then, as I actually sat and thought about it, I felt that for some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to give it 5 stars. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was just this gut feeling holding me back. So, I lowered my rating and tried to figure out what it was. Eventually, I figured it out. It was the characters.

I've found in the past that I usually don't enjoy books set in normal high schools. Typically, the characters tend to be written as high school stereotypes, and I end up finding them vapid and annoying. That was kind of the case with these characters. While Samantha and a few of the characters that were really prominent in the book weren't totally stereotypes, some of the side characters seemed a bit like stereotypes. For example, both the male and female versions of "rich, pretty, popular, mean kid" were present within the book, without a ton of additional depth. And on top of this, even though the more prominent characters weren't too stereotypical, they did seem a little flat. I'm not sure I could name more than a couple character traits about any of them, which I find problematic, given that they were present for pretty much the entirety of the book. However, like I mentioned, this was something that was a bit of a subconscious problem, and I had to think pretty in-depth about it after finishing the book to even figure out what the problem was, so it didn't really take away from my reading experience.

Overall, the plot and the pacing were super on-point. Armentrout wrote it in a way that keeps the reader constantly engaged and invested in the story. The book constantly kept me guessing and curious as to what was going on, and started to unravel the mystery piece by piece in a way that urges the reader to continue. Despite the characters being a little flat, I found that this was one of the most addicting and unpredictable books that I've read in quite a while.

So, that's it for my review of Don't Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout! If you've read this book, let me know down in the comments what you thought of it! And, if you have any questions about the book, ask them down in the comments as well!

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