I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 15th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller/Suspense, Young Adult
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Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.
Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.
But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
Is there anything Jennifer L. Armentrout can’t do? The answer, mere mortals, is no (unless you want a poncho). Do you like Contemporary? Mystery? Paranormal? Romance? Regardless of your preferences, Jennifer L. Armentrout has probably written something that will appeal to you. Now we can add Don’t Look Back, a Contemporary/Romance/Thriller, to her list of hits.
Don’t Look Back follows a pretty simple formula for success: a chilling mystery, a complicated yet pleasant main character, enough sexual tension to make you blush, and the mother of all shocking endings. I would describe it as a mix between Mean Girls and The Lying Game by Sara Shepard. While I wouldn’t consider this novel a standout, I did enjoy it enough to gush about it.
Our main character, Samantha, has amnesia. She’s found in the middle of nowhere without any recollection of her entire life or the events that transpired the night she went missing. She soon finds out that she wasn’t alone when she disappeared. Her frenemy, Cassie, is still missing. What follows is an edge-of-your-seat kind of book, the type that keeps your mind alert because you don’t know who to trust or what’s lurking around the corner.
Samantha’s amnesia generates the most amusing moments in the novel. From ordering coffee to hearing stories about her “old” self, I couldn’t stop laughing at her reactions. I also really enjoyed the unpredictability factor that propels the novel forward. Just when you think you know what’s happening it changes course again. As a reader, I was suspicious of everyone and I was so determined to unravel the mystery before the end of the novel that I ended up missing some pretty huge clues. Even though I didn’t see it coming, I think some people might be able to solve the puzzle a lot sooner than I did.
Even though it can get very silly at times, it can also get super creepy. Among all the creepy and all the silly, you’ll find some very swoon-worthy chapters. No one can write sexual tension like Armentrout (that’s not necessarily true but go with it) and Don’t Look Back doesn’t lack steamy moments. Did I care for the relationship or the love interest? No. Did I have a good time reading about it? The answer is a huge fat yes, which also applies to Armentrout’s previous novels.
Unfortunately, Don’t Look Back falls into the cliché trap more than once. Samantha’s friends are the typical, flat snarky popular girls. None of the secondary characters possess any depth to them; they are just there. The love interest, Carson, is the hot dude we’ve read about in so many other novels. Even some of the moments throughout the story—the “you-have-a-little-something-on-your-face” and the “there’s-someone-in-the-backseat”—feel recycled and unoriginal. The ending takes a major soap opera turn, which I didn’t really enjoy but the shock factor is definitely there.
I don’t know about you but I have a love/hate relationship with Jennifer L. Armentrout. Love because I can’t get enough of her books. Hate because I get really annoyed that I can’t stay away. At the end of the day, I know that I’ll always pick up her books and I will most likely enjoy them. While this novel didn’t blow me away, it did manage to keep me up until four in the morning on a school night AND give me nightmares. So, if Armentrout was going for a super creepy yet slightly cliché novel then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.