Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Release Date -  October 4, 2016
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.
I am a sucker for anything that is touted as a YA Gone Girl. I've heard this one pitched this way many times and knew I needed to pick it up. That initial comparison may have been what prompted me to pick this novel up, but Caleb Roehrig crafted something worth devouring all on its own.

The splashy hook of a missing girlfriend, questions that the main character cannot answer, and a whole lot of drama create a tense atmosphere right from the beginning. There comes a point where the mystery takes over and you simply must know what happened to January. A well crafted mystery is gripping and demands you turn the pages as fast as you can read them, and that was definitely the case with Last Seen Leaving.

As much as it is an exploration of the secrets people keep from us, it is also about the ones we keep from others. Flynn has secrets of his own, and things he is grappling with. This secondary storyline, which often feels like the main story at times, was just as gripping. Flynn's voice is so vivid and authentic that you care about him and his happiness. You care about everything he is going through and dealing with. There is a theme of accepting yourself the thrums through a lot of Flynn's story. This element feels like the more pressing and important part of the story. I could have read an entire novel about Flynn's journey of self discovery and acceptance and it would have been just as gripping.

January is an all consuming presence. This may be told in Flynn's point of view but I feel that we get to know her very well. She's as complex as the mystery that surrounds her disappearance and that made for an even richer mystery. Each new reveal, each kernel of truth, worked to change my mind about her character. It was impressive that she was not just a plot device, or a footnote in the mystery. She resonated more than that and it was largely due to the care in which she was crafted.

There is a darkness within these pages and this story. It deals with a lot of heavy topics without lessening them or failing to see them through. It allowed this darkness to increase the stakes and tension within the story. It kept me, as a reader, on my toes and ensured that I was kept in suspense until the final reveals. I sometimes find the ending of stories to be a let down. There is a sense of them not living up to what I built up in my head but this particular story delivered.

A twisty read that has a satisfying mystery at its core. If you're a fan of mystery novels I recommend picking this one up. It's smart, filled with characters that keep your interest, and, surprisingly, offers a message of self acceptance that shines brightly through the murkiest parts of this mystery. 

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