Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected proof of this book through the publisher. I am not being compensated in any way for this review. All of the opinions expressed here are my own.

 

224 pages Dundurn Group Release Date: February 17, 2015

224 pages Dundurn Group
Release Date: February 17, 2015

I hate to give negative reviews of anyone’s published work. I know the amount of effort that goes into writing and the sting of rejection that comes with it. Unfortunately, no matter how much I’d love to give every book I read a raving review, I would much rather be honest.

The back matter for Mary Jennifer Payne’s new young adult book, Since You’ve Been Gone, intrigued me. Edie and her mother are on the run. Things seem to be going well after their sudden move to London until Edie’s mother disappears. Now Edie is on her own and can’t run to the police for help.

Despite its interesting subject matter, I was disappointed. Payne uses mostly simile when giving any kind of description, but the similes are not very original or interesting. They’re also quite frequent, and at some points are found in every other sentence. They throw off the flow of the story rather than add to it.

The story as a whole, strangely, is both rushed and slow moving at the same time. The overall plot did not move fast enough to keep me entertained; I was halfway through the book and still had no information as to why they were running or why I should care about Edie’s life. On the other hand, smaller events in the book happened so quickly that they felt unrealistic.

I really disliked Edie as a character. So much so that I couldn’t connect to the story. Her inconsistencies made it hard for me to believe anything about her. Actually, I would love to see all of the characters in the book developed more fully.

So, overall, this one’s a no for me. The concept had great potential, but the execution left something to be desired. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion. There are plenty of positive reviews for Since You’ve Been Gone floating around, so give it a shot if this hasn’t deterred you.

Writing fiction is hard work. The same rules we’re told to follow are also rules we’re told to break. We have the task of creating complex plots and even more complicated and believable characters. Sometimes writers nail this formula. Many don’t, at least not on the first try. It’s a learning process. Maybe I’ll review Payne’s next book sometime in the distant future, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised when she blows me away.

 

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