Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. JohanssonCut Me Free by J.R. Johansson
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on January 27th 2015
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
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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.

Cut me Free’s plot involves lot of disturbing happenings and broken characters, so it’s really unfortunate that it wasn’t the emotional read I was expecting. I was really loving it at first, but at the end I felt kind of meh about the whole thing.

I think it will all depend what you expect from it. After I read the blurb that talks of abusive parents and death and memories, I though this would be an emotional wreck of a read; a psychologically dense story. Instead, it focuses mostly on the thriller aspect of the plot – the new psycho that seems to be stalking her – while grazing over the psychological aspects. I do like my thriller books, though, so this was still highly entertaining, I just found it could have been that and way more, you know. A lot of lost potential that could have turned this into a truly memorable read. Like, for instance, the main character’s emotional state of mind is surprisingly stable for having been locked up since birth, abused and neglected for years and years. The story is not exactly realistic in that manner. There are mentions of her struggles with her brother’s death and her paranoia and such, but this felt as if it was added as an afterthought. Like a “by the way, I AM a broken mess”. The reader shouldn’t have to be convinced, we should be able to see and feel this instability. Something! On top of that, she adapted to society way easily considering she’d never stepped foot inside her house before ever, which didn’t help the lack of depth.

Plot-wise, it’s your average YA thriller with a psycho on the loose. The book does do this part well with a constant eerie feeling in the air. You just know the MC is not safe no matter the precaution she takes – it’s creepy! We’re also introduced to a sweet side character who makes everything a bit more nerve-wracking. You can help but want her to finally be a worry-free happy kid! The plot doesn’t come problem free, though. The main issue is a common one with YA thrillers: You have these teenagers who refuse to get help for any number of usually dumb reasons. Honestly I’m not even sure why she didn’t want to go to the police from day 1 – and don’t give me that “scared of foster care” crap. This lands her in some (predictable) sticky situations that could have been easily avoidable.

So anyways, this is a good read for some mindless entertainment, just don’t expect anything especially potent or profound.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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8 Responses to “Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m not sure that this is for me. I can’t really handle unrealism especially when it comes to these contemporary mysteries/thrillers.
    I’m glad that it was still entertaining for you, Giselle! 🙂
    Great review!

  2. MIchelle @ Book Briefs

    Wow, based on the cover, title and description, I was expecting this book to be a darker and very emotionally packed read. It is a shame that it fell a little short of that.

    sometimes a mindless book is just what I am looking for after a long day at work though, so I will keep this one in mind.

    Great review Giselle!

  3. Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    It definitely does sound more like a dark, depressing read more than a thriller, based on the synopsis. I’m not sure if I’m intrigued enough to go through the unrealistic story in this one.

    Too bad this one didn’t live up to its full potential. Lovely review, Giselle!

  4. Lily

    It looks really interesting and even though you said it wasn’t a dense emotional story the idea of reading the thriller aspect about it sounds fun to me! Good review!