Saturday, August 9, 2014

Creeping Up Behind You

Published:  April 15th, 2014
Don't Look Back
By: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Disney Hyperion
ISBN-13:  9781423187738

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 before 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 of 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?


     Sam is found wandering barefoot and bruised, far from home and with no memory of anything in her life before that moment.  She's been missing for days, and while everyone is relieved to see her, there is just one important question left: where is Cassie?  Sam's best friend disappeared at the same time as she did and hasn't returned, or been heard from since.  With the help of her parents and her twin brother Scott, as strange to her as they may be, Sam feels like she might be able to get a handle on herself soon.  But then she goes back to school and finds out that she is basically head bitch, and her boyfriend Del is far from the perfect guy everyone thinks.  The only one she seems to be able to trust is Carson Ortiz, the son of her family's groundskeeper.  They used to be friends, and he looked out for her even after Sam started treating him like a dirtbag.  Mysterious notes begin showing up in impossible places and the hidden secrets and lies of everyone in Sam's life make everyone a suspect.  Where is Cassie and what really happened to her?  Most frightening of all, is Sam going to be next?
     I have been a fan of Jennifer Armentrout's since I first read Obsidian, the first book in her Lux series (one of my first review books, actually).  So now, more than a few books later, I was intrigued to see her take a hand at mysteries in a style that reminded me a bit of the Lois Duncan books I was obsessed with in the late 90s to early 2000s.  The writing itself is extremely solid and gives just enough description to draw you in, just like with all her other books.  I kept reading, because I desperately wanted to know what happened next!  I quite liked Sam, though she did seem to take the amnesia thing rather too well.  And the attitude of acceptance towards the possessive and borderline brutish behavior of her so-called boyfriend Del, was a little bit off-putting.  It's mostly a matter of how you would react in a situation where you have no memories of anything or anyone, to tell you who to trust or how to act/react to things that are happening.  Especially when you're in a situation where someone potentially murdered your best friend/frenemie and could murder you if you recover from your amnesia.
     The build-up and resolution the the mystery of Cassie's disappearance/death was not all that surprising.  I was pretty sure by the time I was about halfway through who had done it.  Jennifer managed to drop a couple really emphasized remarks that served as some big, honkin' clues to who the murderer was and what exact motive they might have had.  It was very neatly tied up and I enjoyed the character transformation that Sam undergoes throughout the book and I liked that by the time the end came, she did get her memory back.  Change isn't true change until you can make a choice based on all the facts and experiences involved.  The brother/sister relationship rebuild between Sam and Scott was wonderful and yes, they didn't get along all the time.  But that's what made it that much more realistic.  And he stood by her, even when they had previously been enemies and he could've been an asshole instead.  True family bonds, people, are a thing of beauty.  The romance between Carson and Sam was pretty swoony and I enjoyed it, but I was also glad it wasn't the focus of the entire book.  All in all, I enjoyed this one but it was a little more two-dimensional than Armentrout's normal work and the mystery could've used something extra.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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