Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne
Published by Dundurn Group
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary fiction, YA
For fans of:  uhh… can I get back to you on this?
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

“Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she’s in a different country.
Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.
Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.”

NOTE: Many thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn Group giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So I’m going to be brutally honest here and say that I was really disappointed with this book.

15-year-old protagonist in a strange country? Desperately searching for her mother, who’s gone missing? Without the help of the authorities because she doesn’t want to be shipped off to her abusive father??? This should have been an emotional roller coaster ride, alright? But honestly, it was just really “meh” from start to finish.

By now, you must all probably know that I genuinely find it hard to finish a book if I don’t give a frick frack about the characters. And I know this is going to sound horribly mean, but the only reason I saw this through to the end was because it was such an easy read. Seriously. I didn’t finish this in one sitting – read it in, like, sporadic bursts – but the cumulative reading time was around 4-5 hours.

The characters were bland. All of them. I still don’t really know what Edie, the protagonist, looks like. Just that she’s lost the baby fat on her face from three years ago and has dark hair. That’s it. Just…Dark.

Her hair could be midnight blue for all I know. (It just really bugs me when I’m not given adequate character description, okay? I need to form a mental image, and I can’t do that when all you give me is a teaspoon of description)

Her relationship with her mother – which is basically the emotional base for the entire novel is wafer thin. And I think this could have been easily avoided if the author had taken her time and set up the story and shown us the foundations of Edie and Sydney’s (that’s the mom, btw) relationship instead of just plunging into the problem of the book right at the beginning. The few times we saw Edie and her mom interact with each other before Sydney went missing, were mostly filled with Edie whining and complaining in her head.

So when her mom goes missing and Edie starts looking for her, it’s like she does a complete 180 on us. And it’s unrealistic, really. It’s hard to be emotionally invested in this girl’s search for her mother ’cause you just don’t believe her.

Another thing that was unrealistic is the whole romance aspect. It was rushed, it was forced… it was like watching two amateur actors with absolutely no chemistry whatsoever (not even hate chemistry) try to prove they’re in love. I actually cringed a couple of times.

What I did like about this book was the way it tried to shed light on bullying, racism and domestic abuse. I just wasn’t a fan of the execution. As with everything else, these topics all seemed forced – orchestrated.

This book should have been fueled by emotion. I wanted to feel sad for Edie, I wanted to miss her mother with her. I wanted to explore Jermaine’s past more. I wanted to know about about Imogen (She seems like she’d have a nice back story). I wanted to see more of Keisha’s home life
SORT OF SPOILER: (Come on. Her mom’s an alcoholic and she looks after her little siblings. Come on!).
SORT OF SPOILER SPOILER: I wanted to worry for Jermaine when he was faced with those racist thugs.
And most importantly, MAJOR SPOILER: I wanted to feel something other than disinterest when we found out that Sydney was dead. 

This book was okay – a decent story overall, and I guess that’s why I’m so disappointed in it, because it could have been great if it wasn’t lacking so much in emotion and character development. (Seriously. The character development was flimsy)

I just… I really expected more from this.

Since You’ve Been Gone is set to be published on the 24th of January 2015. If you’ve managed to get your hands on an ARC and have already read it, let me know what you think. If you plan on reading it when it comes out, or are reading this in the future (timey wimey) and have read it, again, let me know what you think in the comments.


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