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?
Don't Look Back goes straightly to my 2014 favorites shelf on goodreads because it had everything I was looking for: an amazingly written plot with a great mystery, well made main characters who developed throughout the novel and a cute love story.
This book proved the statement: Everything that glitters isn't always gold. Sam had all a girl could desire for: popularity, a lot of friends, a hot boyfriend, power and money. Soon after she gets back to her life it takes approx. 2 minutes to realize how her life was anything but perfect. Her friends are mean bitches, her family is anything but happy, her boyfriend is a total asshole under the facade of the golden boy, and one way or another nearly everyone hates her. If she didn't have enough problems, Cassie, her best friend or more like frenemy, is still missing so Sam has to fight even harder to get back her memories of that night and everything before that.
“You were a terror to everyone who knew you.”
At first the story sounded a bit cliché - remember when everyone tried to write about amnesia? - but somehow this book could still show something new and different. Jennifer L. Armentrout proved that she can write an incredibly mysterious story just as great as she can write romance or fantasy. Each and every part of the book was well-developed. The two most important themes were the mystery and the romance, fortunately the author balanced these perfectly.
The mystery was well built and I didn't guess the ending right, even though, looking back there were quite a few clues pointing this way. Sam had to go to hell and back while trying to figure out the truth and deciding if she's insane or not. Unlike in other mystery novels at first she had no idea who to trust and as things started to uncover she questioned nearly everyone which sometimes led her to hurt people.
The romance was one of the cutest things I've ever read, they totally fit together no matter their past or their social differences. I liked how Carson slowly started to realize that Sam wasn't the same person who she used to have been, yet she kept her main characteristics. It was really cute how he wasn't afraid to tell her about his feelings and how deeply they ran.
Sam had a boyfriend which hardened the situation because she couldn't concentrate on her new feelings for Carson, she felt like she had to try to save her relationship with Del who seemed less and less appealing to her as time went by.
Their relationship was built on lies and betrayal and I still can't get why the hell he thought he could get away with lying to Sam and no one will tell her the truth. I liked how Sam tried to feel something for him and didn't give up not just because she couldn't let go completely of her old personality, but because even if she didn't like Del she didn't want to hurt him.
Sam: In this story there were actually two Sams, one was her old self, the other was herself after she lost her memories. 'Before Sam' was the queen of the bitches, she wanted to ruin everyone, even the people she loved. She couldn't express her feelings and she tried to push them as far away as she could. It was obvious old Sammy liked Carson as well, but she would have never admitted it to him or herself.
"I was waiting outside the library at school, my head tipped back. Satisfaction poured off me, dampening the jealousy that simmered in my belly whenever I saw him even looking at Cassie after that party. I had him and I was going to ruin him."
As she learnt about her shallow and bitchy self she felt more and more disgusted by all the things she did and even questioned if she was capable of hurting someone after all.
"Because it wasn’t okay—it was never going to be okay. I was stuck in this life I didn’t remember, squeezed into the shell of this girl—this Samantha Jo Franco—and the more I learned about her, the more I was starting to hate her."Even if I couldn't like that mean, uppity girl Sam was, I could get why she gave up herself to the pressure and became as others wished. Her mother wanted perfection and couldn't accept anything less, but I think in the end she realized that even if some places of Sam's life seemed perfect, they never made her happy.
"So much pressure to be perfect, to be better than everyone else. Anger swirled like ticked-off wasps in my chest. I’d been so angry, so bitter under the facade. So desperate to run my own life that I turned into the person who struck out, hurting others to make myself feel better, to have some kind of control.But I was mean ... because I could be. Because no one dared to stop me."Carson: He was one of my favorite male leads of all time. He was the mix of the boy next door and the bad boy. While he was a player it was seeable from the first minute how he cared about Sammy even when she was a total bitch to him. I loved how he supported and encouraged her through everything no matter what happened between them in the past.
“You’re more than a party girl, Sam. You’re smart—incredibly smart. I’d be failing bio if you weren’t my partner. And I can’t fail if I want that scholarship, but anyway, you’re also strong. I mean, come on, how many people who have a complete loss of memory would jump right back into their life? You’re tenacious.”
“Because I get that you really do feel bad. A couple of weeks ago? I’m not so sure. But you do now. And that matters. Okay? The past is in the past. It’s done. Let it die."
I hated how Carson had to fight ten times as hard for anything because he wasn't rich and I hated the old Sam for reminding him every day of their differences. I'm disappointed we couldn't get to know his father and how he reacted to the relationship of him and Sammy.
Anyway they were one of the cutest couples of all time, they were adorable and loveable together.
"He spread his hands along my cheeks. “I don’t care if you have to see a shrink or go on medication, Sam. I’m being serious. That doesn’t change that I’ve always thought you are an amazing person.” Through bleary eyes, I searched his face for signs that he was joking. “How can you say that—” “When you wouldn’t give me the time of day for years?” He laughed. “Remember, Sam, you had your moments. And those moments outshone everything else.”
“Will you go to prom with me?”Another thing was official. I was in love with Carson.A wide, beautiful smile parted his lips, exposing the one chipped tooth that I found so, so charming. “I’m going to be honest here. If you’re going to say no, it’s about to get really awkward up in here.”
Del: He was a lying asshole and the worst of all is that he didn't want to be with Sam out of love - that way his lies would have been a bit more acceptable - but because this was what other people, mainly their parents expected from them. He wasn't a good person but unlike the mean girl group he had his moments which couldn't outshine his jerkiness but they helped me accept him a little more.
“Screw practice. Our relationship is more important than a damn practice.”
Scott: He was a really amazing and supportive brother even if sometimes a little rough. It was obvious that Sam wasn't kind to him in the past but he still stood up for her from the very beginning. He was like the biggest shipper of Carson and Sam and was so cute with Julie.
"My brother shot across the room, moving like a streak of lightning. There was a brief second when I wasn’t sure what he was going to do, and then I saw him cock back his arm. His fist crashed into Del’s face, and the boy went down like a sack of potatoes, smacking on the floor with a heavy thud. Scott lowered his fist. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.”
All considered this was a very good book with an interesting mystery and good character development.
Favorite characters: Sam, Carson, Scott
Least favorite: Cassie, Veronica, Del
I'd recommend it to those who like mystery thrillers which concentrate on the romance too.
The story idea: 4/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 4/5
The cover: 5/5