Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher- Disney-Hyperion
Released- April 15th 2014
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

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 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.
My Thoughts:
It’s no secret that Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my all time favorite authors and it’s so hard not to go all screaming-fan-girl every time I read one of her books. But dame! She just keeps getting insanely better and better. In the last few years, I've really grown to like mystery books, but if Jennifer keeps writing like this, mystery is going to be my new favorite genre! Just wow!

Don’t Look Back, follows the story of a girl named Samantha Franco who is struggling with amnesia ever since she came stumbling out into the dark, battered and bloody. Her best friend, Cassie is also missing and Sam is presumed to be the last person to see her alive. Frustrated and lost, Sam wants nothing more to remember her past memories and help find Cassie, but the more she learns about her former-self, the more she realizes how ugly her life was. With a second chance to renew her life, Sam grabs at this unfortunate blessing to be a better person and somehow make all the wrongs in her life right again, but she hasn't given up on trying to find out what really happened to her and Cassie on that faithful night. The only thing is, what if her lost memories are the only reason she’s still alive?

Truth? I wasn't really prepared to love this book the way I did since mystery isn't usually my main escape without some kind of paranormal-goody backing it up, but hey, it’s a JLA book, so of course I'm going into this with an open mind, but yeah, I wasn't prepared to be blown away!
Jennifer’s mix of mystery, thriller and bubbling romance has a pitch perfect pace and flows with incredible suspense and intrigue. This is my favorite kind of whodunit. I've always loved amnesia-type books, it gives us that extra edge since we’re learning everything along with our main protagonist. This book has a brilliant cloud-of-doubt lingering over the entire book. Nothing is as it seems and I didn't know who to trust and found myself trying to remember whole conversations between the characters to see if I could catch any clues. Nope, I couldn't  find any. Jennifer really created this one in a tight hold, only letting go at the right time and place. I loved the flashbacks, memories and notes. They were the perfect pieces to the puzzle and did an amazing job of keeping me on my toes. But it was the big revelation and the motive behind it that left me utterly floored. I was bouncing out of my seat! I would never have suspected this person, never saw it coming and thought it was such a brilliantly played move.

I loved every single one of these characters. They’re all well developed, easy to connect with and easy to love and/or hate.
My heart really goes out to Sam. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose your memories, but this girl makes it look like a blessing and a curse. I loved the way Jennifer portrayed her. I could feel how lost, deflated and desperate she was to help find Cassie, a girl who was suppose to be her best friend and enemy in the same breath. And then later I felt like I was going insane right along with her. I have no love for mean-girls, which is what I found so refreshing in this book since Sam is your ultimate mean-girl and we see the way she use to be with stories about her former-ways and later in her own memories. The genuine regret and sorrow in Sam is heartfelt and sincere and I love her child-like personality as she stumbles along in her renewed life, but she also has a fierce determination and fire in her that fuels the story from start to finish.
Scott is the best brother evah! I loved him so much. I've always been very fond of brother/sister bonds in books, and this one is just made of awesome. He’s protective, kind and funny and I even screamed a big ‘Hell Yeah’, in one of his scenes. Loved! Julie is also pretty awesome and I liked what she brought into Sam’s life. 
But it’s Carson Ortiz that really owned this book for me. My gawd. Can you say intense and sexy as hell? He is Sam’s constant rock and the only real friend in her life, but it hasn't always been this way. I thought it was pretty cool of Carson to give Sam another chance since he pretty much has every right to hate her, and yet, he stays true till the end, loyal, protective and wonderful.
I liked the fact that Sam’s ‘friends’ and even Del didn't smoother the story line. They played their parts well mind you, but they weren't the center of the plot which I was grateful for. It gave us more time to explore Sam’s past without the unwanted attention and immaturity of Sam’s mean-girl groupies and a boyfriend I would love to punch-out.
I love love loved the romance! Sam and Carson’s situation isn't found in very many books, actually, I can’t really think of one quite like this. It’s exciting, refreshing and even a little surreal given their history. The chemistry is off the freaken charts hawt. There were some real intense moments here where I could actually feel the sparks flyin’. So good! But it’s the friendship that I loved the most. In some twisted up way, it was fate that Sam got this second chance and being able to get a do-over, but finally, with the right person.

All in all, another JLA win! Don’t Look Back is an instant favorite! The mystery is captivating, gripping and exhilarating. The twist and turns are calculating and creepy but not overly disturbing and the romance is squeeze-worthy and pulse pounding delicious. Amazing characters, amazing writing and an amazing plot. I couldn't love this book more. I was totally invested and entertained from the first page till its gasping conclusion. I hope Jennifer continues to write more for this genre. She’s a natural story-teller and I can’t ever seem to get enough of her worlds. Loved!!

Find the author:
Goodreads/Website                             5 Puffy Snowflakes