Tuesday 15 April 2014

Book Review - Don't Look Back

Don't Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: June 2014
Publishers: Disney Hyperion
No. Pages: 385
Source: Review Copy - Disney Hyperion
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
What if you had the chance to start again... but only if you promised never to look back?

Samantha is popular, rich, and seemed to have it all.. until the night she and her best 'frenemy' Cassie disappeared and only Sammy resurfaced, with no recollection of who she is or what happened. Sammy's a stranger in her own life - a life she no longer wants any part of. Losing her memory is a chance to start again. Then Sammy begins receiving mysterious notes warning her about that night, urging her to not look back. But she can't let it go. As she starts poking around in her past she begins to remember.. and something sinister begins to surface.

I know what you're thinking; 'isn't that the book with the ballerina on the cover, all brown and vintage and elegant?' Why yes, yes it is, and I'm sorry to disappoint you with a different cover, but sometimes, UK publishing lets UK readers down and we don't get vintage or elegant or ballerinas, however, those who do get that cover will sense the symbolic nature of that cover when you read Don't Look Back, because you will read this book, and I am confident enough to say you will at the very least enjoy this book, if not love it, just like I did.

Don't Look Back was a first in many ways for me: it was my first Armentrout book, although I have White Hot Kiss and need to get round to it, it was my first amnesia themed book, although I have a few others waiting to be read, it was my first murder/mystery book that I've been able to fully enjoy, and it was my first 350+ paged book that I read in one sitting. Lets just say that Don't Look Back is a book I'm going to remember for a very long time, and I think that was down to the addictive nature of the writing. I had heard that while Armentrout's work was good, it wasn't fantastic, but there was this 'something' that had people coming back for more, and I can safely say I experienced that something too. There was no unnecessary pit stops in the unraveling and tension throughout to 'memory drop' as I'm going to refer to it, and nor was this sense of one feature overtaking another; there was a real flow to the writing and moved with one sense of direction without feeling like I was being jolted backwards when Sam remembered something. Armentrout brought together all the features of mystery, murder, romance and character development and molded them so almost perfectly that the only fault I had was that I had figured out the person behind the entire ordeal before the plot revealed it. Whether that was down to my CSI skills having watched too much TV, the clues Armentrout gave throughout making sense too quickly, or that the book was just that little bit too long for mix the reveal in plot and the eureka moment I had together, who knows, but I know that is one of the tiny details that stopped me giving this book the full whack.

One thing that did surprise me about this book was the characters, and how with every chapter I was made to trust, and then keep them at arms length, even the main character Sam. Don't Look Back definitely had that sense of haunting and thriller that I enjoy, and at times, Armentrout made me question Sam has a character, and whether what she was seeing or true or just a made up vision, even during her 'memory drops' I doubted her, and I think that only reiterates how good an author Armentrout is. I loved Sam as a character; I loved how she was both confident and honest about her feelings and her thoughts, but wary and innocent too; it gave her a depth that I really liked and appreciated, especially when the creep factor came in and she seemed just that little bit unscrewed. The relationships she rebuilt and created were also wonderful to read about, hearing of how she was before the ordeal and how she reflected parts of her childhood due to the actions that took place, as well as how much she wanted to make up for her previous actions as the 'old Sammy'. I thought the whole premise of amnesia and the way Armentrout covered it was utterly brilliant, staying true to the smaller scenes such as interrogations and those were Sam questioned her sanity. I also appreciated how the other characters involved, Carson, Scott, Julie and Lauren each went through their own smaller, subtle developments in the story; how Scott and Sam's relationship grew and blossomed, and how Sam and Julie's friendship was restored, and how Lauren gained her confidence, it was all so wonderful to read about.

Final port of call is the romance because oh lord was that romance good. I'd heard there was something of a triangle in this book, and in some ways, I will agree, there's definitely two guys involved, and there's definite tension between the two of them, and she most definitely enjoys the company of one and doesn't want to hurt the other, but to me, there was only ever one choice, and I commend Armentrout for giving me another book boyfriend. The blossoming relationship between Sam and Carson always brought a smile to my face; it was so sweet, so honest and so realistic, from the forgiveness to the cuddles, from the all be it cheesy moments to the saving the day, and there wasn't a single moment between them that wasn't either beautiful and raw in that perfect kind of way. The last detail of why I couldn't give this book the full whack was Del. I don't know what it was about him, but he seriously irritated the hell out of me, and not a single scene he was in made that any more bearable and I'm so glad he got a few punches, because if those other characters hadn't done it, I would have.

Don't Look Back kept me up until stupid o'clock at night to finish; the writing and tension was insanely addictive and the plot and premise and was executed almost perfectly. The romance was sweet, and character development was wonderful and I honestly loved the outcome. The mystery element was fantastic, with the right amount of crazy, creep and tension, and the plot twists and revelations where fantastic too. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read any of Armentrout' work yet; I think it's a great place to start to get to grips with her writing style, and I think even for creep and thriller sensitive readers, this book would be just right, and for those who have read her work already, add this to your collection as soon as possible, it's too good to miss out on.


  1. Haha, I love what you said about the cover. It's so true. I have that one too, but I am tempted to be naughty and just add in the US one. I just really don't like the UK one all that much.

    A 350+ book in one sitting? Wow, it must be pretty amazing then. Eeeeek, very excited now. *Bumps it up the TBR list.* I do hate when you figure it out before the big reveal, I am terrible for that because I question everything until I have it figured out lol.

    I am now unbelievably excited for this one, can't wait in fact. I think it might be the next book I read now. I have read Armentrout's work before, the first two Lux series books, and really enjoyed them. They were fun, and they kept you coming back for more. I hope I love this one as much as you did.

    1. I was so tempted to do that too, but I thought I'd be honest instead..
      I've been on a reading kick the last two weeks, so I've been reading a lot of 300 odd page books in one sitting, but this one was so gripping, by the time I'd even considered putting it down, I was in deep and couldn't leave it. It's a shame, because I was probably only around 30 pages ahead of the big reveal which is hardly anything, but it could amaze you! I'm so glad you're excited, and I look forward to your thoughts soon! :D

    2. I was disappointed to find that I couldn't get mine to download to my Kindle :'( So I'll have to wait to read this one now.

    3. Aww I'm sorry hunny, that's baaad.
      Reckon the library might have it soon? Or whether you'll be able to get a copy soon?
      I really hope you can read it soon, I would love your thoughts on it.

  2. I am a little ashamed to admit that I have yet to read a book by Jennifer. I still can't believe it. But if you enjoyed this one enough to devour it in one sitting and it was over 350 pages that is impressive. I am really interested to see how she develops the characters as well.

    This book has me intrigued. Great review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

    1. I was so ashamed, but she's now on my list of authors to watch out for. I'm glad I've put it on the radar for you!
      Thank you Michelle, hope you like it! :D

  3. Ooh you first Armentrout book! Although this was my least favorite of hers but it was still a fun read. I especially loved how the characters were crafted - though I wasn't the biggest fan of the protagonist, but I found her character arc very intriguing. I also have read so many books in this genre that I'm a bit pickier than most you could say >.< Glad you liked it, Amanda! I'm curious to see what you'll think of White hot Kiss! :)

    1. It pleases me to know that fans of Armentrout like this one less, so I expect amazing things form her other works, like White Hot Kiss, which I hope to get to soon. I always listen to your recommendations for the genre, if you like it, it's got to be good! Thank you hunny :)

  4. I am really considering making this one my first book by this author. Sorry that the cover is so....drab. Usually, the UK covers are better. Meh.

    1. It's quite sad about the cover, although it does work with the story, so it's not all bad.
      I really think this is a great place to start and get a feel for her writing Lyn, I hope you like it :)


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