Then and Now: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Samantha Franco is walking on the side of the road with no memory. Seriously, she has no idea who she is and how she ended up getting attacked. The police bring her to the hospital, where she is diagnosed with amnesia. Nothing helps restore her memories: not her parents, her brother or her boyfriend Del.

Things get worse when Sam starts learning about the night she went missing. Apparently, Sam was with her best friend Cassie Winchester, who is still missing. The more Sam learns about her previous life, her friendship with Cassie and the way she terrorized people, the more she wants to forget her former persona.

When Cassie’s body is found in the lake, it becomes more important than ever for Sam to remember. Too bad her former friends think she’s crazy and may have killed Cassie. With the help of her brother Scott and his gorgeous best friend Carson Ortiz, Sam tries to piece together the events on the fateful night in the woods. But who would want Cassie — and maybe Sam — dead?

Then

It’s been years since we read Don’t Look Back, a YA thriller that released in 2014. We just remembered a great mystery paired with a swoonworthy romance. With it being Halloween season, we thought it was the perfect time to revisit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with Sam and work to piece together how she lost her memory.

We also remember how messed up the ending was and wanted to relearn how the book got to that point. The first time we read the book, we knew that Armentrout made the mystery difficult so solve with many pieces to the puzzle.

While a lot of the smaller details we forgotten, we loved the book right away and probably read it in one sitting. Don’t Look Back made us want to read more from Armentrout, which we obviously did!

Now

Starting out, we realized how difficult it would be to solve a mystery without having access to all your memories. While some memories came back in bits, it still wasn’t enough for Sam to figure out what she saw on that night in the woods.

Like our previous read, Armentrout hooked us right away with the characters, plot and setting. We loved getting to meet Carson again, who was just as sweet, adorable and badass as we remembered. It took him time to trust the new Sam, but he was a good enough person to give her a second chance.

As for the Franco family, minus Scott, they’re super messed up. We forgot the relationship between her parents, who cared more about social status than they did about their own children. Talk about doomed from the start. Eve worse, though, were Sam’s former friends and boyfriend Del. They’re obsessed with being rich and elite, torturing everyone else who couldn’t afford a mansion or didn’t summer someplace exclusive.

From flashbacks and from other characters, we learned that Sam and Cassie were like this too. But after Sam loses her memories and goes back to her every day life, she experiences a lot of character growth. Part of her mystery was understanding how she became that way, in order for her to change.

Now, for the mystery. Wow, did it get dark at the end. Armentrout did a great job with pacing, choosing to give readers bite-sized details frequently to help piece everything together. Unfortunately, for Sam, she didn’t know if she was crazy. Even though we technically knew the ending, it didn’t make us any less nervous for Sam. All of the pieces to the puzzle went together nicely, ending with a bang, not a whisper.

Final Verdict

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ both then and now. This YA thriller is perfect for this time of year and there’s a great romance. Do yourself a favor and pick up this one and try to figure out what really happened to Sam.

Published by I'm All Booked Up YA

We write recommendations and reviews for YA books.

22 thoughts on “Then and Now: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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