Written by: Kaleb Roehrig
Published: October 4, 2016 by Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?
Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.
*** 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. ***
I went into this book expecting a twisty and interesting mystery full of complex characters and surprises. And yes, it had some of that but it didn't totally blow me away though it was a good read.
I think the hardest thing for me to categorize about this book was the mystery. I love a good mystery. I like when they mess with my head and take me through all kinds of twists and turns. And while this book did manage to surprise me more than once, on the whole I wasn't super impressed with the mystery. They over-arching mystery felt in some respects basic, and in other respects too complex. It wasn't the kind of mystery where clues unfold throughout the narrative leaving you knowing in the end whodunnit, which is what I prefer. No this was one of those mysteries where you are left obtuse until the reveal and those just never resonate with me.
But much of the reveals of this book didn't have anything to do with the crime aspect. Because, Last Seen Leaving is more of a coming of age story than anything else. The real heart if this book is the story of not pretending to be someone that you are not. There are more than a few secrets in this plot point and these were the ones that interested me more. To me the best and most interesting thing about this book is that it is about a teen boy figuring out who he is and who he wants to be. It is about someone coming to terms with who he is, accepting himself, and sharing that true self with the world even if it's not what they expect of him. And that part of the narrative was fantastic. It wasn't what I was expecting but that made it all the more enjoyable.
And maybe I enjoyed the character-driven moments because I did really like the main character Flynn. Despite some frustrating moments of me thinking "what teenage boy talks like that," I enjoyed Flynn's voice. I enjoyed his dry humor and irreverence as much as I enjoyed his more vulnerable moments. And boy does he have some vulnerable moments. He felt real and complex in the way he was finding his way in the world. I think a lot of people can empathize with him in that way.
But Flynn wasn't the only complex character here. This book was as much about January and learning who she was. Throughout the book you see flashbacks to her and see her at her best and her worst. January is not a super likable character but I appreciated that. She was this presence that you felt throughout the book and the author did a good job of making you want to learn more about her and her motivations. There were a host of other complex and unlikable characters, like January's parents and students at the school that I kind of wanted to learn more about. The characterization here was pretty good, I just kind of wanted more when it came to the secondary characters.
On the whole, Last Seen Leaving was a good and enjoyable read. It isn't the kind of mystery that I usually love but it more than made up for it with the coming of age story that I could get behind. It had complex characterizations and an interesting plot full of secrets and surprises that I enjoyed reading.
I give Last Seen Leaving by Kaleb Roehrig 8 out of 10 stars
Have you read Last Seen Leaving? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!