Synopsis: As a child, Mallory Dodge learned that the best way to stay safe was to be quiet as a mouse. Her nightmare ended when she was adopted by loving parents four years prior, but Mouse is still afraid to make a sound. In order to prepare for college, her parents think completing her senior year at a public school will help… but the last thing anyone expected was being in a class with her childhood protector. The connection between Mallory and Rider is still strong, but can mouse-like Mallory finally speak up if it means she can save the boy who once saved her?
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout is one of the few writers who I will buy her books without even bothering to read the backcover blurb. It doesn’t matter if the novel is paranormal, scifi/fantasy, or contemporary… I will grab it and not let go. She also writes adult and new-adult novels under the pen name of J.Lynn. Jennifer lives in the States with her husband and adorable dog, Loki. When she isn’t writing, she is generally reading, working out, or watching bad zombie movies.
Cover: At first I thought all the cover had going for it was the pretty colours, as that was all there is. No image or anything, just a splash of what appears to be watercolour paints on canvas. Yet the longer I looked, the more I liked it. Artistic talent is an important skill the main characters have (though in different ways), so the artwork of this book actually fits the content quite well. I will say, though, that if you buy the hardcover there is an orangey blob that bleeds over to the inside of the dustjacket and lurks in your peripheral vision as you read.
Writing Style: I had heard that this novel dealt with serious subject matter —though at the time I didn’t know if it was suicide, abuse, rape, or what— and I wasn’t sure I would like it. Everything else I’ve read by JLA is more on the humorous fantasy side and I just wasn’t sure how she would handle the subject. While I wouldn’t be able recognize the text as JLA’s voice unless her name was on it, this novel was incredibly well done.
Location: This novel takes place in Baltimore, Maryland. I have to say that I honestly didn’t even notice as it just felt like Anywhere USA to me, though in the acknowledgements Jennifer said the city was as much a character as any of the “people”. Perhaps had I ever been there I would have noticed the city’s personality a little more.
Plot: More often than not, I usually find books dealing with serious issues to be a bit forced and over the top. Not this one though. Almost all the characters reacted to every situation in a way I found to be completely believable. There were a couple moments I found a bit questionable, a little Hollywood movie stereotype, but it could be completely true-to-life and I just don’t know due to a lack of personal knowledge/experience.
Theme: If I had to decide what this book is about, I would say it is about finding your own voice and believing it is worth being heard, because everyone deserves to be noticed and loved.
Character: The thing about Paige is that she is so completely real. Yes, rather a b*≠¢h, but no more or less than you’d expect from teens at your own high school. What truly fascinates me is that if this story came from someone else’s point of view, we’d be a lot more sympathetic to Paige. Mallory’s forced perspective has us viewing this other girl as a bit of a nemesis, but really Paige is not so much a villain but a victim to circumstance and willing to protect what was once hers.
Romance: The relationship between Mallory and Rider is filled with such intense complexities that I’m in awe. These two are so perfect for each other that you fall in love with Rider and want him for yourself despite the fact his life is incredibly messed up. The relationship between these two feels like a cross between childhood best friends falling in love and love-at-first-sight.
Personal Thoughts: There is one thing that bothered me about this novel and that is the frequent use of a foreign language with very little translation within the text and no glossary before or after the story. I was frequently online to find out what everything meant, but anyone who understands Spanish might be okay.
Quote: Forever was something we all took for granted, but…forever wasn’t real.
The Verdict: I picked up this book planning to read a couple chapters before bed, but the next thing I knew the sun was rising. It wasn’t until I started dozing off at 7am and accidentally dropped the book on my head—I now have a bit of a bump, which explains why I normally wait for the paperback version to be released— that I finally put it down to sleep. Immediately upon waking I grabbed the novel up again and didn’t let it go until I was finished. I had a hard time writing my review because there are no words to explain all the feels this book gave me. I cannot recommend this book enough!