Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: May 6, 2014 by Simon and Schuster
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find? 

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

I really thought this book was going to have more mystery elements. But I'm kind of glad I had that perception because I may not have read it if I had known it's more of a traditional Contemporary novel. But I'm glad I read it. I took a chance and I really loved it. Not giving it chance would have been a real shame. 

What really made this book for me were the characters. I'm always a bigger fan of secondary characters and here they were quirky, fun, and incredibly well-rounded. I couldn't help but connect with them and laugh along with the main character Emily and her friends and family. But surprisingly, my favorite character was Emily. She was well-rounded and interesting but she was also so unbelievably relatable and realistic.  She felt like a real teenager. She felt like me as a teenager. She felt like me as an adult. Emily starts this book being socially awkward and missing her best friend, her safety blanket. Morgan Matson does an incredible job helping us feel what Emily is feeling and miss Sloane along with her. It made me think about all the times I have been in similar situations. I could almost instantly empathize with Emily and root for her.

And that connection to the character is what made the coming-of-age story of this book all the more enjoyable. I honestly forgot how much I love these kinds of stories. I was expecting a mystery, a search for clues to help Emily reunite with her best friend. But what I got was something better. The plot of this book was Emily taking chances and doing things out of her comfort zone. She had always been Sloane's sidekick and this was about her becoming her own person. It was so empowering to see that from a character that you can relate to. But I didn't expect to enjoy it so much as I did. A good Hero's Journey is something I always look for in my novels but I forgot that good character development can actually be good plot development. Since You've Been Gone was a captivating character-driven story that I didn't want to stop reading. I loved being along for the ride as Emily did the things on Sloane's list, even the ones she was afraid of. I loved seeing her find an internal strength to be brave and independent, and make friends that accept her and the person she was becoming (not that Sloane doesn't or won't accept her but you get the idea.) I really enjoyed following Emily as she figured out who she was independent of Sloane, I loved her character-development.

But what I also enjoyed so much more than I expected was the romance in this book. I like when my books have romance but I don't like when that is the basis for this story. What Morgan Matson managed to do in this book was effortlessly balance the coming-of-age story with the romance. It was as if her life before didn't have room for a relationship and now it did. It made total and complete sense with the story and still didn't take the focus. Plus on top of that, it was a fantastic slowburn kind of romance. I liked the romantic lead instantly but my shipping feels seemed to grow as the book progressed, a rate similar to that of the characters' feelings for one another. And by the end of the book, I was shipping it so hard I just wanted to smoosh their faces together. 

This is not a book I thought I would enjoy but it was incredibly well-written and restored my faith in YA Contemporaries. It makes me want to read more Contemps, more coming-of-age stories, more romances. And that is extremely high praise for a book to do that to me!

I give Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson 9.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! As a person who is not really a fan of Contemporary novels and after loving this one so much, I would definitely recommend this book. If you are a fan of YA romances or coming of age stories then check this one out. If you are looking for a character-driven novel with likable and realistic characters then get this book.

Have you read Since You've Been Gone? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. In addition leave me a comment if you have recommendations for more YA Contemps I should check out. I'd love to know your thoughts on more coming-of-age stories like this that you would recommend. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I read the book some time back in the Summer of 2014 and it made my list for top ten books of 2014. I can't express how much this book really changed me and taught me a few things at the same time; like "If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we're not really living." That quote is my number one motto now :D

    Great review :D

    Alex @ The Book's Buzz

    1. YEAH! That is a pretty fantastic quote and a great motto. I really loved it too. It's definitely my favorite read of the year so far (but it is only January).

  2. I love romance. I'm actually kind of happy to hear that this one has it because I wasn't expecting it. Great review!

    1. It's full of surprises! It does have romance, a wonderful romance!

  3. OHHH GIRL!!! I know you said to read this already but you just made me 99% more excited with this awesome review!! I'm adding it to my amazon wish list (thats srs bsns) right now! I think supporting characters are so grossly underrated so im glad Morgan pulled this off.

    1. YEAH! I'm so glad I could persuade you. This seriously made my day. I know we already talked about it but it would make me so happy if you read it and love it.