Monday, January 26, 2015

ARC Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson

Title: Cut Me Free
Author: J.R. Johansson
Published: January 27, 2015 by Macmillan
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. 

But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

Full disclosure, Cut Me Free is a Young Adult Thriller that handles some tough issues including violence, abuse, and kidnapping. It may not be the book for everyone. And while the hard to handle issues were not what turned me off, I didn't enjoy the book in the way I was hoping. Despite having some great things, I never completely connected with the story.

My feelings about this book are pretty well expressed by my feelings for the characters. They were easy to empathize with but for some reason I kept them all at arms length without full connecting. The main character Charlotte is tough, smart, and determined despite her circumstances. This is a trait that I usually enjoy in my YA heroines but here it was hard to suspend disbelief. Charlotte has been through a lot, a fact she constantly reminds us about, but it was difficult to make sense of how she could have gotten to be that way. At times it was easy to remember she had been locked in an attic for years and at other times it was hard to believe that. But she was easy to root for. I wanted to see her succeed and be happy because of everything she had been through. And that's also how I felt about one other secondary character, but on the whole I found it difficult to trust all other characters.

But maybe that lack of trust with the characters and inability to connect with them was because of the book's mood, something that I actually enjoyed. I would probably categorize this book as a Thriller and the mood made that abundantly clear. It wasn't exactly pulse-pounding excitement but it did have me curious and confused in a good way. I was cautiously waiting to find out what would happen next. Seeing the book from Charlotte's perspective really added to that feeling. She had definitely been through a lot and you could feel her fear and paranoia so well. The lack of trust in people and the uncertainty made the book really suspenseful especially as the ending drew closer.

And a lot of the plot of the book was based on those feelings of paranoia. The world that the author built  was a world of suspense and secrets. The amount of secrets the main character was keeping made her feel like an unreliable narrator, something I always like. And with all those secrets, there were so many questions about the characters past. The author peppers details and information about the characters past and what will eventually lead to the conclusion throughout the novel. It makes things seem both obvious and confusing at the same time. It made for an interesting plot but not a particularly mysterious one. But the author did effectively build to a thrilling conclusion that I would have enjoyed more if there were more clues and things to solve along the way. The climax, which was very exciting, wasn't particularly shocking. On top of that, the book had a bit of a slower and again didn't have me on the edge of my seat.

On the whole Cut Me Free is an interesting book and a good read, but it didn't quite leave me with the feeling of satisfaction that I was hoping for but it did have interesting and complex characters, and a dramatic mood that handles difficult issues in a serious way.

I give Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson 7.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. This book is not for everyone. If you like Contemporary novels that deal with difficult novels then check this one out. If you are looking for something different or a thriller that gives you a sense of the fear and paranoia a character is facing then check this out. It reminded me a little bit of Blackbird by Anna Carey so if you were a fan of that book then pick this one up.

Have you read Cut Me Free? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. ive been super curious about this one so thank you for your great review!! I think I will borrow it since im still just dipping my toes in the contemp water.
    <3 Britt

    1. I'm just dipping my toe in the "contemp water" too. This one is actually within my comfort zone though because it's more of a thriller and less of a romance. Good transitional book.

  2. I haven't read this but my co blogger liked this one so much! Great review and guess I'll be picking this up soon as well since everyone seems to love it!

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

    1. Cool. I'll have to check out her review and yours after you read it! I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Good review! This is one I am definitely going to read. :)