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?
I typically don’t read many thrillers but Disney-Hyperion sent me this book and I couldn’t resist dropping everything to read it. I loved the cover and figured a genre change would be good to get me out of a near slump I’ve been edging. I was right; this book was a page turner and kept my interest from start to finish.
If you’ve read any of Jennifer Armentrout’s books you know that her writing style is incredibly easy to read and she knows how to write a book to pull you in faster than you realize. This was the first thriller I was aware of her writing and she excelled at creating an atmosphere of mystery.
The story centered on a girl realizing she was walking on a road, barefoot with no memory of how she got there. I’m a sucker for memory loss stories and Armentrout did a very good job capturing this element. Our main character was on a journey to not only remember her own life but to find out what happened to her best friend (and as we soon find out enemy). The more she learns about herself the more she realizes that she doesn’t exactly want to be the person she was. I found that the pacing was fast, writing addicting and the story interesting though a lot of what happens to Sam has been done before.
As far as mystery novels go I’m not the best judge of Don’t Look Back’s success other than how I felt as I read it. I found it rather easy to predict the outcome but found the ride a lot of fun. Though I was able to predict aspects of the mystery I still second guessed myself a few times which to me, means Armentrout succeeded. There were elements such as mysterious, accusatory notes appearing out of nowhere that Armentrout threw in that captured an eerie atmosphere. Even with these little touches, this book failed to have me sweating and in complete fear for the main character. Regardless, I was eager to read the resolution and details of what happened.
If there is anything that JLA excels at it is in creating character chemistry and sexual tension. She can take even the most overused romantic scenario and make it work for her story. Guy and girl trip, falling to the ground in a dizzying heap? Check. Girl wraps her arms tightly around muscular guy as he drives his motorcycle, check. There were many more but even with these trite interactions it still managed to be fun. It was a nice relief from all the mystery to have these little interludes. Not only that, but they also helped keep the book fast paced.
As I stated above she did an amazing job creating Sam’s character and her memory loss. I did struggle with some, okay a fair amount, of Sam’s decisions. She tended to go with what she expected of her and though all the signs pointed to her making changes she hesitated.
Most of my frustrations centered on her relationship with her boyfriend prior to the incident, Del. Though nothing about him made her feel confident or good, she wouldn’t assert herself and take action. Because of this, a love triangle was present and I was frustrated with this aspect overall
Though the secondary cast was rather cliché they still fit into the storyline very well. Samantha’s friends from before her incident are the stereotypical mean girls. Not only do they use their style and wealth to get ahead but also bullying and scare tactics. To me, they all seemed very typical of what is expected of the rich and popular. Sam’s brother was the only character that stood against this stereotype. His girlfriend was not as wealthy as him and his best friend’s dad actually worked for their family.
This brings us to Carson- Sam’s brother’s best friend and boy Sam is realizing she had a past with. Of course Armentrout made him swoon-worthy, tall, dark, handsome and likeable even though he had some traits that weren’t the best (his reputation for sleeping around). He was the ‘bad’ boy form the wrong side of the tracks, yet another stereotype. But like I said, all of it worked well for this novel.
I enjoyed Armentrout’s foray into the thriller genre, even with a few overdone plot lines and characters that seemed a tad on the side of stereotypical. Even considering those few things, I was enamored with her writing, and found it easy to read and fast paced. I loved the journey into a girl’s self-discovery and realization that who she was-isn’t who she wants to be any longer. Full of swoony moments, mystery and an edge of danger, Don’t Look Back would be a hit with fans of Armentrout’s previous books and thriller fans in general.