Review + Giveaway: Then You Were Gone

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway: Then You Were GoneThen You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick
Published by Simon Pulse on January 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central

In the tradition of 13 Reasons Why, a suspenseful and heart-wrenching novel from the author of Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You.

Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.

Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.

Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive.

Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.

Or maybe it’s too late for them both.

First Sentence:She’s standing, clutching a Coke can, dancing in front of my broken mirror.

Then You Were Gone falls into a subset of contemporary fiction I usually do not like one bit, though obviously I did not know this when I requested it. See, Then You Were Gone is about a whole bunch of poor little rich kids living super self-destructive lives because of neglectful parents and all of that jazz. It also features an MC who desperately wishes she could be like her former best friend, Dakota, who is made of magic and sex and rock star glimmer. Neither of these fairly oft-seen plots usually thrills me, but Strasnick’s is the best instance of this plot line that I’ve ever read.

So many books about poor little rich kids spiraling out of control are melodramatic and with this totally bored air, as though they’re too good to care about anything even though they’re living these shiny lives of desparation. They’re whiny and superior and do nothing with so much opportunity. I just find those books so frustrating most of the time.

What Strasnick does differently is the heroine’s approach to everything. Where the heroines in such stories tend to lack self-awareness or pity themselves, Adrienne really does not. Adrienne knows she’s fucking up her life, and she knows there’s no one else to place the blame on for that. Adrienne knows she’s losing her grip, both in classes and in her romantic life, but cannot seem to stop herself. She has to find out what has happened to her former best friend, a search which leads to her failing even her best class and smoking like a chimney. In the search, she learns a lot about herself and her relationship with Dakota.

Now, even before Adrienne went off the rails after Dakota’s disappearance, she and her friends were a whole bunch of hot messes. These kids go through life half-drunk. Th, do, though when she starts slumming with the smokers her position in the A list is threatened.

This book, slight though it is, has plenty to scandalize and shock the reader, but Strasnick approaches these things in a very straightforward way. The writing fits the story well, fairly simple and to the point like Adrienne herself. Strasnick’s treatment of her subjects kept the book from straying into some sort of sensationalized Gossip Girl kind of thing, and more of a dark look at real problems some teens have.

I would have liked to see a bit more character development throughout or perhaps have been more grounded in who Adrienne was before Dakota’s disappearance. From the beginning of the book, Adrienne has already been thrown for a loop by Dakota leaving her a message before mysteriously disappearing. She’s not herself, and this version of Adrienne, is distanced from everything, single-mindedly focused on figuring out what happened. As such, she’s hard to emotionally connect with. Such a connection would have thrown her dark spiral into sharper relief.

Then You Were Gone is a quick read that I found to be quite enjoyable and emotionally honest. This was my first experience with Strasnick’s work, but I do plan to read more of her work because of how good this is.

Favorite Quote:

“‘You can’t tell that sort of thing over the phone.’ She digs a chip into the guac and waves it at me. ‘Here. Taste test.’ Then, ‘Besides, people process their crap differently.’
‘It’s good,’ I manage, mouth full. And, ‘I thought everyone processed their crap exactly the same.’
‘Funny,’ she says, pulling me close, pushing my face against her chest.
‘Can’t breathe,’ I cry, writhing, whining.
‘Shut up, please?’ She kisses my forehead, hugs me harder. ‘I need to squeeze my kid.'”

Since I don’t think this will be a reread book for me, I’m sharing the wealth with one lucky reader. US only. Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Then You Were Gone”

  1. Interesting. When I started reading your review, I felt quite a bit of trepidation, because I don’t like those types of books either (though admittedly I did watch Gossip Girl for a bit, and that did seem like rich kids screwing up their lives). By the end though, you had sold me on the realism and emotional impact of the book, and on Strasnick’s writing.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, I am a bit obsessed with the Gossip Girl tv show, but I cannot read the books at all. If you do read it, I will be very curious to see how you feel about it!

  2. I love your reviews. I don’t really mind books about rich kids as long as it is done well.
    “who is made of magic and sex and rock star glimmer” – this however is the complete opposite of what I want. It sounds like the writing was good though so that gives it some extra points.

    • Christina says:

      Thanks, that’s always great to here.

      Hmm, yeah, it’s definitely an envying the best friend story, so if you’re sick of those than you might want to skip this one.

  3. Giselle says:

    So you’re saying I will NOT be scandalize? Or will I? This will decide if I read it or not! Bahaha. Gosspi Girl totally rocks! Diss it and die! This sounds good though I’m nor sure if I read another review on it either so based on yours I think I’ll enjoy it.

  4. I’m not usually into these types of characters either but I do want to give this one a try! I’m glad you still enjoyed it. 🙂

  5. i liked your review. plenty to shock and scandelize, eh? lol i don’t normally read these kinds of books but i’m game for this one.

  6. Christina K. in the rafflecopter

    It’s interesting how the main character sees herself objectively and it’s awesome the author doesn’t shy away of darker issues.

    It’s too bad you didn’t like it:)

    • Christina says:

      I actually liked this book quite a bit, which is why most of what I have to say in the review is positive and also why I rated it a 3.5. That is a GOOD rating.

  7. Kat Balcombe says:

    Ah this sounds interesting – I like self-aware characters, although the rich kid thing would probably irritate me.

  8. Great review! and thank you for the giveaway!

  9. Callie Vamp says:

    You are doing a good job! Keep it up!

  10. Dione Sage says:

    I liked 13 Reasons Why but from your review I am guessing it doesn’t sound like it’s that type of book. I enjoyed reading your honest review of Then You Were Gone.

  11. Angela Chen says:

    Great review! I was actually unsure about whether I should read this or not, but it doesn’t sound bad. Character development is almost always a big problem. :/ It sounds good though, so I’ll give it a try 🙂

    Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  12. Nori says:

    So, your review kinda makes me think that this is a better version of Gossip Girl? I definitely can get soaked up in these kinds of stories, but I’m with you that I really don’t want to keep reading them (because they have been done before) unless the author really knows what they are doing.

  13. Erika says:

    This sounds so sad and mysterious. Lately I’ve been more interested in some of the darker reads where real issues are brought up and emotions are shared. I haven’t read 13 reasons why so I can’t compare. I’d like to read this some time. Thanks for the chance to win!

  14. Tia Dalley says:

    I actually like most books where people are out of control. Since you don’t like that genre, but said this was the best you have read (on this subject). That makes me think I would really enjoy this book. Thanks again, for an honest review.

  15. Great review. I love how honest you are about the plot line of the story in general and the technicalities of the book. I am usually drawn to these types of books though… easy reads that have a lot going on so they are able to hold my attention. I look forward to reading this book.

  16. Anita Yancey says:

    I loved your review, and I’m sorry that you weren’t that thrilled with it. But it sounds pretty good to me, and I would love to read it. Thanks for this chance to win it.

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