Review // Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Monday, January 22, 2018

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 358

Summary (from Goodreads):

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

I was excited to read BEFORE I LET GO because I really enjoyed Marieke's debut novel, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS. Unfortunately, I didn't like this book as much as I liked her first one. It was okay, but I felt like it got repetitive and weird.

Corey and Kyra have been best friends forever. They grew up together in Lost Creek, Alaska and they always had each other. When Corey's mom accepts a job in Winnipeg, she has to move away. Corey promises to come back and Kyra promises to wait. But Kyra dies by apparent suicide just before Corey is to come back. Corey spends her trip trying to figure out why no one did anything to help Kyra when the signs were clearly there.

I liked the main characters. Corey very clearly cared deeply about Kyra. They seemed like they were super tight. I liked Kyra as well. I felt so bad for her. That town was so toxic for her. And for no one to help you when you're clearly calling out for help? I hate that town. I feel like I can't really say that much about them because I feel like you don't get to know them beyond their relationship with each other.

I feel like I was kind of invested in the mystery of what REALLY happened to Kyra for about half of the book. I get that this book is basically about Corey figuring out what happened to her best friend, but this book doesn't have A N Y T H I N G else going on in it. If it were shorter or there was something else happening in this book, maybe I would have liked it better. I mean, I wanted to know what the heck really happened to Kyra too, but having the same thought processes and types of conversations going on over and over throughout the whole book got old.

There isn't any romance in this book, but Corey is described as asexual in the book and Kyra as pansexual. There is also an m/m couple in the book.

I think the thing that I disliked the most about this book was the way the town was portrayed. In general, I hate the way small towns are portrayed in books. They're always either super creepy or literally everyone in the town needs to get a hobby.

This town was super creepy. Lost is a town far away from any other sort of civilization in Alaska. They are tight knit and don't take kindly to outsiders. They treated Kyra like an outsider because of her bipolar disorder. They treated her really crappily. When Corey comes back from being gone for seven months, she is treated like an outsider as well. She spent her WHOLE life there before she moved, which wasn't even something in her control, but apparently that was unforgivable.

But probably the weirdest thing about this town was they way they collectively reacted to Kyra after Corey left. They finally accepted her, but treated her like some kind of prophet. She painted to burn off energy during her manic episodes and started painting scenes that actually came to be. So when she ended up painting a picture that depicted her own death, the town didn't do anything about it. They said that it was meant to be, it was her time. They just LET it happen.

I don't understand why this book needed the whole magical paintings thing? Like I don't understand, there was no explanation for this or mentions of magical happenings in other parts of the world. I feel like there was enough going on with this town and what led up to Kyra's death without adding in this magical realism element.

This book is told mostly during present day from Corey's point of view. There are also flashbacks to before Kyra died and before Corey moved to bits and pieces of their friendship. There are also phone calls and then a few scenes in the book are written in almost like a play format. I didn't understand the point of this, I personally didn't think they added anything to the book. It felt like they were just ways to unnecessarily drag out scenes that could have been over much more quickly.

Overall, I feel kind of meh about this book. I liked the main characters and was curious to know what happened to Kyra. But it was just a little bit too weird for me. I didn't understand the magical realism elements and I felt like it was unnecessary. If you like thrillers or magical realism, you might like this. If you enjoyed Marieke's debut, this could be worth a read. It just wasn't for me.

Have you read BEFORE I LET GO yet? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

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