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Never Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne
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Never Let You Go

by Emma Carlson Berne

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Megan and Anna have been best friends since first grade. Megan, was that kid who wore the wrong clothes, did weird stuff, but that all changed when she was saved by the popular and beautiful Anna from social suicide. From that day on, Megan feels like she owes Anna everything and Anna won't let her forget what she did.

Then, during one drunken night at a party, Megan did the unthinkable. She makes out with Mike, Anna's boyfriend. She becomes an outcast once again. No one will speak with her. No one will sit with her at lunch. But just like first grade, she's saved by Anna, who comes in and sits with her at lunch. Everything seems to be back to normal.

But will fate repeat itself when Anna invites Megan to work at her uncle's farm for the summer? There's a new boy that Anna likes and wants, but that doesn't stop Megan from finding him attractive or finding herself alone with him.

Anna hasn't forgotten what happened with Mike and she isn't about to let Megan steal another boyfriend. Because if she does, it will not only ruin the friendship, but it might cost someone their life.

Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnnn!

Sounds like an amazing book. You have frenemies who seem to walk on eggshells when they’re together, a betrayal due to an affair, a love triangle involving two girls and a guy, a summer out in the country, organic farming, and add in a dash of thriller and crazy and you have the makings for a beautiful book.

Unfortunately, and I feel bad for this, but the book doesn't really deliver in its promise.

Plot:

The plot has a lot of potential, but due to the size of the book, you never really get a good sense of any of the characters. Also, it's not fast paced, which is what you'd expect from a thriller. It wasn't until the end when things started to get interesting. The build up towards the climax had a mixture of really good moments, but slow as well. We see Anna forcing her relationship with Jordan on Megan. This causes Megan to feel uncomfortable, because she doesn’t see what Anna sees, but still wants to be super supportive. That’s what bbfs do. They support their friend’s delusions about guys they like. And by golly, Megan is trying to do this hardcore. Only there’s a problem. She’s starting to develop feelings for Jordan and is noticing that he feels the same way.

Anna notices too and she won’t let Megan stand in her way, even if they’re bbf4lyfe. Odd, I’ve never typed that word before and yet Word/Firefox never gave me a red squiggly line for it. My name will always get a red line, but bbf4lyfe. Nothing.

The plot isn’t really a bad point in this novel, yes it’s too short so we don’t have the story fully developed to its potential, nor do we get any memorable characters. But it is interesting and will keep you reading.

Characters:

This, sadly, is where the book fails. Before I talk about the main characters, I’ll talk about the supporting staff since there are a lot of them in this book.



There’s a lot and they’re forgettable. There were times I was mixing characters together, because even though they may show up quite a bit, they’re never really there.

The story isn’t about them, so this is forgivable though. The story is about Anna and Megan.

Anna is a really good character and I liked how we never really knew what she would do. We learn early on that Anna is cray cray, but we never know why. We get flashbacks of her doing shady things, but it's mostly to show us how off her rocker she really is. She's prone to doing stupid and dangerous things, but she's still a kid. If she was always like this, then there had to be a trigger of some sort.

Sadly, we’re never shown this. Instead, we’re mostly shown Megan’s internal struggle to do good to her friend while stopping her feelings for Jordan. This isn’t bad, but Megan is an emotionally weak character. She’s quick to please Anna, never stands up for herself, and basically allows Anna to treat her like crap. Why? Because Anna saved her when she was young and forgave her for kissing Mike.

To be honest, you never really find out why the two girls are friends. Megan wants to please Anna, but she doesn’t seem to like her all that much. And Anna, why does she want to be friends with Megan? Maybe she’s facing problems at home and decides to find a weak willed person she can boss around to make herself feel better? I dunno, this wasn’t ever explained.

Anna’s purpose is clear. She’s there to be crazy. Megan was there to show us how she’s actually a good person who tries to reel in Anna’s crazy, without being the cause of said craziness. I guess she was the glue to hold Anna together and we do somewhat get a sense of this when Anna mentions that Megan was the only person she could trust. But after the betrayal, Anna hasn’t been the same and I just wish we knew more about this.

She’s a far more intriguing character than Megan, who is incredibly useless. Even though I was meant to feel sorry for Megan, I was secretly hoping that Megan would end up being the crazy one who framed Anna for everything. I mean, how twisted would it be if Megan was the one who killed Sweetie and blamed it on Anna, just so she could get closer to Jordan and make herself look like a victim. That would have been crazy on top of crazy.

Overall:

The book is short and you can easily finish this in a few hours. It does have a fairly interesting plot with some good characters and the ending did leave the door open to a sequel. But the story was about Megan and how Anna isn’t the friend who she really wants in life.

It’s fairly predictable, since the synopsis really does tell you everything, but the ending is good, Anna is great, and if there is another book I do kind of want to read it.

So why the two stars? I was originally going to give it three, but once I finished the book I pretty much forgot about it. It doesn’t leave a lasting feeling. You read it, you’re done, and that’s it.

Lots of potential with this novel, but the lack of content really made the entire story fall flat. ( )
  pdbkwm | Sep 8, 2014 |
You can read this review and more like it at Pretty Deadly Reviews.

I read Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne last year and wasn't wholly impressed. I thought it was lacking in many places, especially in characterization. On the whole it was entirely forgettable. I wasn't expecting much from Never Let You Go but it's hard to stay away from something described as 'a love triangle gone horribly wrong'. You all know how I feel about love triangles - and what's more is this one involves one boy and two girls. So of course, I snatched it up, and I was actually pleasantly surprised.

This time around (which looks like her sophomore YA effort) Berne was able to create rich characters in just over 200 pages, who are distinct and vivid. The protagonist, Megan, moves onto a farm for the summer and joins a large cast of characters. But I never felt that I couldn't distinguish who was who - each character had a separate voice and distinct story and I felt like I really knew all of them. Megan and Anna have the classic 'frienemies' relationship. Anna saved Megan from social exile, and I honestly don't see what they liked about each other. Now they are are older, and Megan has betrayed Anna by kissing her boyfriend, I really don't see why they even tried to be friends. The romance I thought was great - no insta-love. It was cute and adorable and organic. I really liked Jordan. He had a great head on his shoulders, and goals and a history outside of Megan, which I thought was a breath of fresh air.

Berne masterfully wove suspense into what, on the surface, could seem like a cute story about navigating romance and friendships. But you could always tell something wasn't quite right. Anna was throwing herself at Jordan to the point where I was embarrassed for her. It was really uncomfortable to watch Anna take the smallest snippet of conversation with Jordan and twist it and stretch it into something completely different. Her way of bending reality was truly scary.

Throughout the story we're given glimpses into Anna and Megan's past together, and it's easy to see how each girl turned out the way they were, and how they made the decisions they made. Megan was always the out cast, the loner, and Anna always made jabs at her. Boys always flocked to Anna first, so when Anna's boyfriend was giving Megan attention I can see how she could make that terrible decision. And we could see where Anna's head was just never in the right place.

When Anna finally snapped, it was wild and terrifying. I don't feel like I'm spoiling anything here, because that's basically what the story was about. While I waited for the climax, anticipation kept mounting. You know what's coming, but you don't know when and you're powerless to stop it. And the ending? Totally creepy.

The reason why I only rated it three stars is for how forgettable is it. While I thought the story was masterfully woven, and the characters were great, I really don't think I'll reflect back on it like I do other books. I might reread it one day, since I own it, but I won't look back on the lessons it's taught me, or the way it provoked me. It's just a simple thriller, albeit with a great cast of characters.

I do recommend it, if your library has it. It's a fun, quick read, with quite a dark side. The characters are grabbing, and there are a couple you'll be rooting for, no doubt. And with anticipation high, Never Let You Go practically forces you to keep turning the pages. ( )
  PrettyDeadly | Mar 31, 2013 |
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While working on a farm during the summer, Megan falls in love with her unstable best friend's crush, with frightening consequences.

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