Then You Were Gone – book review

Then You Were Gone

Then You Were Gone is a suspenseful and intriguing book written by Lauren Strasnick.

Adrienne and Dakota were inseparable until the day they simply stopped talking without so much as an explanation two years ago. The sweet Dakota that Adrienne used to know had slowly become a dark and unpredictable person that Adrienne couldn’t recognise. But one week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate voicemail message. Adrienne never called back.

Now Dakota is missing. She left behind confused minds, broken hearts, a flurry of rumours… and a suicide note. Adrienne can’t stop obsessing what might have happened if she had answered Dakota’s call. But as time goes on, Adrienne becomes increasingly convinced that Dakota is still alive out there, somewhere.

Adrienne thinks that perhaps finding Dakota is the only way she can save herself. Or is it too late for both of them?

*

I have conflicted feelings about Then You Were Gone. I started off loving this book and being unable to put it down. I was desperate to know what had happened to Dakota and I was captured in the story from the very beginning. For the most part, I enjoyed reading this book. I liked most of the characters – whether that was liking to hate them, or just liking their personality, however I felt like they were a little under-developed. This book was really well-paced and breezy, but I would have liked some more explanation at the end. I felt like this book came to an abrupt ending too quickly and to me, it just felt like it let the book down. For the entire book, I was so eager to find out what had happened to Dakota and when I discovered what really happened, I was left feeling disappointed and it felt kind of anti-climactic. In saying that, I did love the majority of the book and it was a short and fun book to read.

The writing style was different from most books I’ve read. The sentences were short, as were the chapters. In this way, everything was very concise and there was no dragging-out of important events. Everything went straight to the point and at first I liked that, but then I realised I would have liked some more description and information about specific things. The story-line didn’t flow as smoothly as I would have liked and sometimes the dialogue annoyed me. There was a lot of one-word dialogues that were followed by a hyphen, like ‘Adrienne-’, and I felt like yelling, Would you please just say the rest of your sentence before I hit someone?! I got a little frustrated at times because of this style, but I guess it was a nice change from all the other books out there.

The actual plot was also a little too jumpy for my liking. It goes from a girl who used to be best friends with this girl, then the girl goes missing, and the one left behind becomes obsessed with finding her. Somehow, that just didn’t make complete sense to me. I mean, you were friends with this girl two years ago and after a voicemail message, you decide you’re obsessed with her again? And it’s not like this girl was even very nice. The relationship between Dakota and Adrienne was toxic.

I liked all of the characters in this book for their individual personality, however I felt like none of them were completely finished. They didn’t really seem well-developed, which I guess is understandable in such a short book. I did like watching how Adrienne’s personality changed throughout the book. In the beginning, she was this sweet, responsible girl who had good relationships with those around her and did well in school. It was kind of devastating watching her transform from this beautiful person to someone the old Adrienne would hardly recognise. It was sad to see how she pretty much closed the doors to the relationships she had with her friends and with her boyfriend. To be honest, I didn’t like her boyfriend, so I was happy about that. Lee didn’t seem like a really romantic guy and it seemed he didn’t really love Adrienne. I didn’t like the way he treated her and I didn’t like the way he expected things of her. In my opinion, Lee didn’t respect Adrienne at all and I was pleased when she found Julian. There wasn’t really anything special or memorable about Julian, but I liked the conversation between him and Adrienne and their scenes were always fun to read.

My favourite character of this book would be Kate, Adrienne’s friend. She was hilarious and fun to be around, I just wish I saw her more often. I would have liked her personality to be developed a little more, but I liked her anyway. Adrienne’s Lit teacher was also a good character. I never knew whether I loved him or I should be wary of him, but I really liked the fact that I was constantly guessing whether I could fully trust him or not.

I didn’t really feel connected to any of the characters. Adrienne didn’t have my sympathy, and Dakota didn’t have my attention. Dakota was supposed to be this mysterious girl that everyone hated but also envied, but I would have liked some more insight to what she was like. All we got were tiny snippets back to a memory of her and Adrienne. There wasn’t much background on Dakota and she didn’t seem like she had a very unique personality, which frustrated me.

One of my favourite things about this book is the mystery it held. It was like we were given snippets of information throughout the book and we were being forced to wait until the very end to see how it all intertwined. I liked the little clues that were discovered, but I would have liked a bit more action in this book. Overall, I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either. I’d give Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick a score of 6.5 out of 10. If anyone else has read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

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