Don't Look Back
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Publication date: April 15th 2014
by Disney Hyperion
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 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?
-A copy was provided by Disney Book Group for review-
With a strong blurb and a cover that’s both creepy and pretty, I went into this one with a lot of expectations. It is my favorite genre and an author I’ve previously enjoyed, after all. I can’t say I’m disappointed, exactly, but I’m sad that didn’t end up loving this one as much as I was hoping.
Amnesia is a commonly used trope in mystery novels, but I still find myself drawn to them every time. Even though it’s been done before, I found the memory loss aspect very well executed. When Samantha reappears into a life where she had it all, she’s not sure how to deal with the way people describe her. She was a selfish bitch, to put it bluntly. I found this contrast between her pre-amnesia and present self very intriguing. She’s the same girl, yet with a now conflicting personality from before. It makes you wonder what could have turned this great person at heart into such a mean girl. Unfortunately I never exactly connected with Samantha. She was not unlikeable as a protagonist, but she did grate on my nerves every now and then, especially when it involved Del. I found it incredibly obvious that he was lying about their relationship – and more – (I mean, what teenage relationship is that perfect?), but she still believed his every word. He kind of creeped me out if I’m being honest. I wanted him to just go away.
Furthermore, I did find there were a lot of clichés throughout this story. Romantically, we’ve got the tumbling-and-falling-on-top-of-each-other scene, then the crush-wiping-ice-cream-off-her-chin scene. Thriller-wise, we’ve got the face-in-a-rear-view-mirror shocker along with mysteriously appearing notes. I can’t say I didn’t roll my eyes a time or two. More on these notes, they were so vague and unhelpful that I didn’t see the point to them. They do serve a purpose eventually, but an angle like this had a lot more potential to build an effective twist than it delivered.
With that out of the way, I may not have fallen in love with this one, but I did enjoy myself while reading it. I was kept in the dark with a mystery that unravels slowly and steadily until all the pieces fit. I was left feeling butterflies towards a once unlikely romance that blooms between two characters (not Del – blerg!). And I was satisfied with the psychological aspect and unique character arc driven by memory loss. JL Armentrout definitely has potential in the mystery genre!