TITLE: You Were Here
AUTHOR: Cori McCarthy
RELEASE DATE: March 1st, 2016
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
RELEASE DATE: March 1st, 2016
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
“Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?
On the anniversary of her daredevil brother's death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake's favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.
As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn't bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.”
RELATED: Breaking Sky
When I first saw You Were Here available on NetGalley. I had to read it.
It was like something tethered me to this book, demanded I request it, and wouldn't let me go until I did so. For me, that was ever so strange because I hate contemporary books. They tend to bore me. Maybe it's because they lack the same sense of escapism that you feel when you read a fantasy or paranormal novel.
After all, the real world isn't all rainbows and unicorns; there are no magical fix that will save the day at the last minute.
It is messy, dirty, and painful. But it also has those moments where you just go "oh" and really just sort of understand things. Maybe life is never going to be perfect, but in those moments, perfection doesn't matter a bit.
You Were Here does a wonderful job of bring the reader to that moment, to acceptance. After, of course, brutally ripping your armor away, and exposing your vulnerable heart to all sorts of damaging feelings.
The story follows a group of dysfunctional, and I'm laughing at this understatement, young adults. All but one, though he was only a few years older, were recent high school graduates. The whole ragtag group was caught in the struggle of being themselves and being who their parents and society expected them to be. Most had shitty home lives with parents who were failing to see the truth of what their child was going through or just didn't care. They had more lies and secrets between them than a magician had tricks.
There were broken and damaged hearts vying for page time with a reckless flirtation with death.
It all sounds so typical YA novel when you put it that way, but there was one element pulling them all together: Jake's accidental death. Towards the end of the book, Natalie said:
"Jake was a suicide bomber, Jaycee. We are all his collateral damage." (ARC 91%)
And that might be the moment I realized why I liked this book. Not because what anyone said or did, not because of any of the characters, but because it was real. I don't know which one of the sorry group I felt more connected to in their struggles, but watching the way they worked together in that last scene, I loved them all.
When someone loses a loved one, witnesses a horrible accident, undergoes a brutal break up, or is forced to grow up too young, it leaves a mark on you. I think anyone who's ever really lived, ever really suffered (even just in their heads) can sympathize with the heroes. Maybe they weren't slaying any dragons, but those demons haunting their minds looked pretty real to me, and you have to admire someone who can claw their way back.
You Were Here was told in alternating point of views.
Each one of our heroes got some screen time. While Jaycee, Natalie, and Zack took the focus, there was no doubt that Jaycee was the core of this story. Jake's death may have been the catalyst for their struggles, but it was Jaycee's actions at the start of the book that pulled a group of people who needed each other together.
While I liked listening to those three tell the story, it was the other two point of views that I loved. Both Bishop and Mik had non-typical styles that were very different than what I usually see, but more importantly, so uniquely them.
Bishop was a graffiti artist, and his chapters were all one-page works of art. They captured what he was feeling and thinking wonderfully. I cannot imagine how different it would have been it his were words. Sometimes an image is truly more valuable because it conveys the same emotions, but lets you put your own spin on the feelings. They really pulled you in and put you in his place.
Mik was not a verbose kind of guy, but it was more than him being just painfully shy. When Jaycee first started mentioning him in her thoughts, I thought he was a figment of her imagination. Maybe it was my love of manga, but when his graphic novel style chapters came along, he stole my heart. I knew from the moment I watched him scale the side of an abandon asylum, break in, and scare the others that he was going to become my favorite character.
My biggest issue with this book is the fact there is a massive, in your face, major spoiler for a character's death from a widely popular story.
Yes, Harry Potter has been out for a while. Yes, a lot of people have seen the movies and/or read the books. But it really bothered me having it tossed out like that, so much so that it completely took me out of the story for a bit.
Overall, I really enjoyed You Were Here.
I'm glad I got the chance to read this novel. I think this is the type of story that if you connect with it, the adventure will never leave you.
"Don't be paranoid on your way to being mean." (ARC 41%)
"'Nothing is so bad that it can beat three practice breaths,' her mom had promised when Natalie was really young. She'd believed it then. That was before Jake's neck pulled a right angle. And before she learned that the worst things in life weren't horrific accidents, but the things you did to the people you loved. Things that could make you unrecognizable to yourself." (ARC 45%)
"...deep down, we're all liars, Jaycee, but we don't all have the courage to admit it." (ARC 61%)
"Save me and I will save you." (ARC 86%)