Summer has begun but Emily’s best friend, Sloane, is missing. She’s been to Sloane’s house, called multiple times and visited all of their usual spots. But nothing. Two weeks after the disappearance Emily receives a list of things to do the summer. A list sent by Sloane. Does the list lead to Sloane? Or is it a way of getting Emily to step out of her comfort zone and stop being the wallflower she naturally is?
After writing that synopsis I realized just how exciting the book could have been. It sounds intriguing right? Wrong. The book failed on so many levels.
Story: The storyline sounded really interesting. Since You’ve Been Gone was on my ‘Most Anticipated Read for the Summer’ list, but it was disappointing. The story follows Emily trying to tick off the things on the list she received. Her best friend has disappeared and she’s about to spend the summer alone. But as a result of trying to accomplish something on the list, she begins to make friends of her, and with people she feels she is truly connecting with.
Side note: There are snippets of memories about her past with Sloane, the “three months earlier” sections. Some of those were really interesting. Especially the writing about Emily’s ex boyfriend. It read as if someone else had written those sections (in a good way).
Characters: My word, did the characters annoy me. The protagonist is Emily, I didn’t learn her name until I was well into the novel. Sloane’s name is mentioned at least once on every second page. Can you imagine reading about someone who is not actually in this girls present, it’s all just memories? Or ‘what would Sloane do’ thoughts. When I started reading the book I thought that perhaps Emily simply had low self-esteem. Who doesn’t have at least one hobby to pass the time? But then I realized that the character was written to be weak. This really annoyed me. Countless times I felt that the character should have responded one way, simply because of the build up and the way she was growing, but then she makes a coward choice.
I very quickly became less and less annoyed with the character, and more and more annoyed with the writer.
“even just being Sloane’s friend made me much more interesting than I ever would have been on my own”
Writing: It took me really long to get into this book. Morgan Matson has a very specific writing style, I’d call it descriptive. Every detail is explained to the reader. And I get that she’s trying to create the world she is seeing in her mind, but there are some things that can be left to the reader to fill in. I felt myself drifting as I was reading, because the over-description was overkill.
A book usually has some redeeming quality. Perhaps a character, the writing, the ending. Usually when a book is disappointing the ending is really good and that saves the book. But not in this case. The ending left me deflated. Like, “is that it?”. I usually don’t feel this way about books, but wow I was disappointed.
And the only reason I finished the book is because I kept hoping something major would happen. But the book plateaued really early for me.
Apologies about the lack of quotes, there was little to nothing that really struck me or that I felt needed highlighting and sharing.
The things the book was actually about, was not that well discussed. I felt like the point was Emily’s Summer and the list was one of the things along with way. The attention given to the list was so little that you could easily miss it. The moments of doing the things on the list was maybe 20 lines max and then done. I kept thinking, really is that it? Emily spends so much time antagonizing over doing it, and then anti climax. For a book that is about a list, very little time is spent explaining to the reader the actual experience of doing the thing on the list. I think if I took out all the extras, the time actually doing the things on the list would only cover 20 pages max.
Also the title. Its never mentioned in the book. How???
Okay my mini rant is over.
And yes, my writing is uninspired in this post. What can I say, I’m disappointed.