Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If you follow me on any of my social media platforms or you follow this blog, you can see that I have not been reading much (as I usually do) the last couple of months. The truth is, I’ve been stuck in a reading slump and had a hard time breaking out of it. Fortunately for me, I am no stranger to reading slumps and know that the best way to break out of one is finding the *right* book that keeps me engaged and wanting to keep reading. Once I find the right book and finish it, the slump would’ve past as if it never happened.

So there I was, staring at the rows of books on my shelves, and wondering which book will break me out of my reading slump. I instinctively gravitated towards the thrillers as in the past thrillers almost always break my reading slumps. However, this time I knew I was not in the mood for something too thriller-y (not a word, I know)— as in I did not want anything too intense or material that was too graphic.

In other words, at the time it was around 10 p.m and I did not want to dream about mysterious disappearances or murder.

That’s where ‘Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout comes in, and saves the day by breaking me out of my reading slump ( everyone cheered!)

Format: 369 pages, Paperback

Publication Date: April 15, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 9781423175124 (ISBN10: 1423175123)

Goodreads blurb:

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 truth 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?

“I stared at a stranger in the mirror. I’d never seen her face before. But it was mine”

‘Don’t Look Back’ by Jennifer L. Armentrout is a young adult mystery novel about snobby popular kids, crumbling facades, and a reminder as to why our parents always remind us to choose our friends wisely. This book was such a well-written book that had me hooked from the very first page. Jennifer Armentrout is such an experienced writer in creating the perfect mix of mystery and spence, as well as incorporating a substantial romance all in one book. My experience with the YA mystery genre has not been the greatest, however I am pleased to say that this book breaks all those barriers and more. I am so, so eager to read more from Jennifer L. Armentrout.

As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the how gripping the main plot point was— we have a girl who has lost all of her memories of who she is/was— and as the story progress we, the readers, are discovering who are main character is. I love a well written amnesia trope book. Initially we aren’t given a backstory for Samantha, for good reason, because it gives us this feeling of uncertainty and distrust for all the other characters that interact with our main character. We cannot trust everything these characters say because Samantha’s memories are gone, and while our only source of information about the “old Samantha” is from these characters, there is the high possibility of everyone else being an unreliable narrator. This just adds an extra layer of doubt and suspicion which elevates this story. It was also interesting to note how all the other characters interacted with the “new” Samantha considering how different she is after the accident.

As someone who reads quite a bit of mystery and thriller, the mystery wasn’t completely unpredictable when you know which clues to pick up on. The clues were nicely sprinkled throughout the book and the author knew how much to reveal without giving too much away. However, the overall reveal was still satisfying because it made sense from the beginning and that’s all I ask for in a mystery novel— for things to make sense.

The romance in this book was so, so good. I was so impressed by how much romance the author managed to add in this mystery. I have read books where the romance sometimes overpowers the mystery element. However, in my opinion this book does it in a way where the mystery plot does not get lost under the romance— the mystery is still the main point of the book from start to finish.

Spoiler: Chad(?) was an okay character. We don’t really know too much of his character being that the book is not centered around a romance between two main characters— just one. I am a sucker for childhood friends to lovers and this book gave me just that. I love how trusting he was of Samantha despite everyone else’s change of heart. Not to mention, despite the fact that she put him through some pretty hurtful situations, he still had the heart to be there for her when she needed him. He’s pretty close to perfect, in my opinion.

I also really loved Samantha’s relationship with her twin brother. It was kind of refreshing to read about a brother and sister relationship that isn’t all about fighting and arguing all the time. It was also nice to see a YA mystery novel that dealt with eternal conflict within the family because it expands the web of suspicion to include her own parents! So fun!

At this point, it’s pretty obvious how much I enjoyed this book. This book has brought me out of my reading slump so I cannot help but be a bit biased over it— I mean can you blame me?. I cannot wait to read more from Jennifer L. Armentrout and hopefully add her to the list of favourite writers.

To end this review I shall leave you with this:

I guess it’s true when they sat “a close friend can become a close enemy”

4 stars.

Hope you enjoyed this review! Have you read ‘Don’t Look Back’ By Jennifer L. Armentrout? If so, let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!

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