Book Reviews

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

*Originally posted on Southern Bred, Southern Read Blog on 11/03/14*

Have you ever wanted a chance to start over? To erase all of your memories and start life fresh? That’s exactly what happens to Samantha Franco, except her memories begin with her standing on a road covered in blood and dirt. She has no idea who she is or how she got there or what happened. After being taken to a hospital, her identity is finally figured out and her parents show up a few hours later. Too bad she has no idea who her mom and dad are, that they are super rich, that she has a twin brother, she has a boyfriend who she is basically betrothed to, and she and her mean girl friends basically rule their high school. She also has no idea that her best friend’s name is Cassie and is missing.

Sam has to rebuild her life with memories other people have with her and share with her. She has to rely on her boyfriend to tell them how in love they are. She has to rely on her friends to tell her how popular she is and how she is the queen bee of the school. She has to rely on her twin brother to tell her everything about herself that her parents don’t want to– how she was an awful person who manipulated and terrorized everyone with her bestie Cassie.

Sam hates her former self. She doesn’t understand how she could ever have been so mean to everyone around and treated everyone so bad. She spends most of the book feeling the shame and embarrassment as she tries to make everyone realize that the old Sam is gone, including her brother’s super hot friend Carson. Carson is the son of grounds keeper of her family estate. They were childhood friends, but after Sam met Cassie her whole life changed. She dumped her former friends and the person who she could have been and turned into the mean girl that everyone expected her to be.

Now that Sam is a completely different person, how can she maintain her former relationships? She is expected to have a fairy tale relationship with her boyfriend but now finds herself having feelings for someone else. She hates her friends and finds friendship in her twin brother who seems to be one of the only people she can trust. After Cassie’s body turns up and the case officially turns into a murder case, Sam is the number one suspect. People whisper at school and even her own parents can’t look her in the eye and say she is innocent. But without having any memory from that night, how does Sam know that she didn’t actually kill Cassie? Sam finds herself questioning everyone around her and her own sanity. I was really rooting for Sam to figure out what was going on, and I kept getting super frustrated for her when everyone was calling her crazy. Every time I thought I knew what was happening, something new would pop up.

The book has a lot of mystery surrounding it and I felt like I was playing a game of Clue the whole time. I kept thinking EVERYONE was a suspect and felt super suspicious the whole time. There is a big twist at the end, but I guessed it a few chapters before just by picking up on clues. It’s a very unique twist and really brings a creepy feel to the book. Even with all the mystery and drama, JLA still gives you a few steamy scenes with a good romance to keep you feeling the feels. The book sort of reminds me of the Mara Dyer series, so if you are a fan of that, then I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Like all of JLA’s books, the book neatly resolves itself after all the twists and drama so that you have a good ending. I’m very happy with the ending (I was super worried for a while) and think this is an AWESOME standalone book. I was so relieved after reading because it seems like every book I’ve read lately has been a bust. Once again, JLA proves herself to be my favorite YA author.

5/5 stars

-Leah

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