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?
Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You guys… I’m convinced that Jennifer Armentrout can do it all.
Are you looking for a steamy romance? She’s your girl.
Are you looking for a paranormal YA? She’s also your girl.
Are you looking for Sci-Fi YA? Again, she’s your girl.
And with the upcoming arrival of Don’t Look Back, if you’re looking for an incredibly well-done suspense/thriller YA, she is now your girl.
I’ve been reading a lot of books in this genre as of late… I don’t know if it’s the upcoming thing, but Armentrout is at the top of the list in my opinion. Admittedly when you read a lot, you can usually see who did what and why pretty early on.
That was not the case with this book.
Armentrout had me guessing up until the 82% mark and even then I wasn’t 100% sure and I certainly NEVER guessed the why of it.
But let me tell you about the book… Sam has been missing for 4 days. She suddenly shows up on a deserted road covered in cuts and scratches, ripped clothing and blood… But no memory. She can’t remember a single thing. She doesn’t know her friends, her family or even her boyfriend, but she’s told her best friend Cassie is missing and she was the last person to see her.
Before this happened, Sam had it all… the hot boyfriend, the popularity… but she very quickly learns she treated people horribly. She made the ‘Mean Girls’ look kind.
You used to be friends with her but she wore the color purple on the wrong day or some bullshit like that.
Even her own twin brother didn’t really like her. Now she has a second chance to remake her life. A chance to make amends and maybe even rekindle a friendship with the boy who used to be her best friend, Carson Ortiz. But she also wants to know what happened to Cassie and what happened that night.
As bits and pieces of her memory return, clues start to surface and suspicions arise. But is any of it real or is she just going crazy?
This is a bit of a departure from Armentrout’s other books, which I think is why I was so excited to get my hands on it. Even our characters are a bit of a change. Sam isn’t like her other female leads, and I appreciated the differences in her from some of her other protagonists. Her 180 degree personality change was an interesting aspect of the story… one which I think Armentrout did really, really well. I don’t know a single thing about brain injury so I’m not even going to pretend, but the explanation and the portrayal felt real and believable to me. And while, there were times that I felt Sam was portrayed a bit too timid, I really liked her for her determination and making the choice to be a better person regardless of what it would do to her status.
Carson is our male lead, someone who Sam has tormented and ridiculed in the past… but also someone who she loved and had a strong friendship with as well. I think my favorite part of their story was the friendship and their history together. While I appreciate the romance aspect (let’s be honest who doesn’t?) it wasn’t a big part of the story here, instead seeing the resolution of their differences and their friendship flourish again and the eventual relationship repair itself was even better than if they had been making out on every other page. Carson isn’t the typical in-your-face protagonist and I loved it. But he was supportive and forgiving and just a regular guy.
If I had to complain about something, it wasn’t totally clear to me why Sam became this mean girl in the first place. Why was she that way before the accident… Oh… And a lot of the Del situation. I can’t really say much more than that, but there is something that happened prior to the memory loss that she ultimately forgave him for and I couldn’t understand why. Sorry for the intentional vagueness but you’ll just have to read for yourself.
Overall this was an incredibly plotted thriller, with twists and turns that will have you on the edge of your seat while reading. If you’re a fan of a wonderfully written story that will keep you in suspense then you’ll definitely want to pick up Don’t Look Back when it arrives in April!
Thank you to Disney Hyperion for the advance copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!