|Title: Don't Look Back|
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: April 15, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Synopsis: 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 aren'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?
Jennifer L. Armentrout is one the hardest working writers in the game these days. She’s written Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult books. She’s written Contemporary, Supernatural, and a whole host of Romances. I mean eight books she wrote were published last year alone. Plus she is an author who I have heard nothing but good things about but have not yet gotten around to reading. So when I heard she had written a Young Adult mystery I was so excited to check it out, and believe me it did not disappoint.
As you may know, I love a good mystery. I love anything where I can spend my time reading searching for clues, speculating, and developing harebrained theories to explain it all. Don’t Look Back was that kind of book. Through most of the novel I couldn’t make heads or tails about the truth. I suspected everyone and had more than one theory with very little proof to back things up. Then as the book developed I was able to follow where the clues were leading me and had one particular theory that I kept coming back to, but it was just a theory. I wasn’t entirely sure that it was true until the very end of the book where the moment of “I WAS RIGHT” was particularly satisfying. For me that's the best kind of mystery. I like being able to solve the mystery but not immediately into the story.
But the plot on the whole was incredibly satisfying. The mystery was only the tip of the iceberg. The book also had an incredible romance that was wonderfully swoonworthy. Jennifer L. Armentrout is a master of romance and that was entirely evident throughout this book. I definitely shipped this ship and the romantic lead was incredibly easy to love. But there was also an interesting coming of age story about finding out who you really are and your ability to change. Throughout the novel the main character Samantha struggles with her memory but also if she wants to be like who she was before or who she is now. She's rethinking friendships, reconsidering relationships, and becoming who she wants to be not what others expect her to be. This combination of different themes and genres is one thing that I love in books and I loved in Don't Look Back. It was a compelling story and I was glad to be along for the ride.
But I also loved this book because of the characters. I think anyone who has ever had the opportunity to start over can relate to Samantha and her feelings of insecurity about who she wants to be. She was a great protagonist and MC and it was easy to empathize with her and root for her success. She was funny, smart, and determined to find the truth despite the fact that it got her into a lot of trouble. The book was also full of so many interesting and dubious characters. It was hard to decide who the killer was in this book because everyone was suspicious in their own way with hidden motives. Even the victim in this story was unique being a “love to hate” kind of character. She and Samantha had a tumultuous relationship being best friends and bitter rivals (which was extra weird for me because one of the reasons I read this book is my name is Cassi and my best friend's name is Samantha). They had an interesting dynamic and one that was fun to read about.
On the whole Don’t Look Back was an interesting and compelling Young Adult mystery with a great storyline, unique and interesting characters, and a mystery that was both complex and solvable. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Mystery, Contemporary, Romance, or is looking for something a little different.