You Were Here by Cori McCarthy | ARC Book Review

Okay, so.. basically my immediate thought is that this cover deserves 5 STARS?! Just look at it. I wouldn’t mind having this on my shelf, you know. Just sayin’.

But lucky for me—and you, if you’re as swayed by the cover as I am—this book doesn’t just look pretty! Despite the difficulties I had at first to get into it, this book absolutely blew me away with its realistic, and complex characters, through various mediums of writing included, and its simple but truly entertaining storyline. Here’s what this book is all about:

You Were HereYou Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 267
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 4 stars (Really Good)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations.

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them—and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!” —Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

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Ahhh, so much to say here! I’ll be writing out this review in list form, between the things I loved and the things that I didn’t love so much. No spoilers, as usual, but if you’d rather just have the more vague and simple version of how I felt on this book, the ‘overall’ part would be good for you. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

You Were Here book review

Things I Loved

  • Omg so many amazing 3-dimensional characters. I LOVED THEM. Gah. At first it took me a while to warm up to them?? (You know me, I can be an incredibly paranoid-of-disappointment and unemotional chocolate bar at times. I know, I know, I’m working on it.) But anyway, I loved them all by the end of it—some more than others. We get all their POVs in this book (though two out of five of them aren’t exactly in the most conventional way). Because I’m a very helpful minion, here’s a little rundown of what I loved of each of the main(ish) characters.
    • Jaycee: The protagonist of the novel, Jaycee was a blunt, reckless, flawed and oh-so-imperfectly perfect character! There were so many times where I went shaking my head and crying out in exasperation at her thoughts and actions, yet I found myself really emotionally drawn to her throughout the story.
    • Natalie: Jaycee’s former best friend, Natalie wasn’t that much of a big deal to me at first. She just seemed like a super bossy and uptight teen that I didn’t care that much about. But as I read more of the story, she developed so much more and she proved to be a strong and well-written character.
    • Jake: Like Natalie, I didn’t think much of him at first. He seemed kind of like the comic relief, and nothing else? But he too, went through so much development! As I continued to read the story, I saw more of who he truly was, layers that I was able to keep peeling away, which was AWESOME.
    • Bishop: The thing with Bishop, is that while we get his POV, it’s different because it’s not exactly his thoughts we see, as text. Bishop is a fan of graffiti, and throughout the book we get several of the things he graffiti-ed. The idea as a whole was great, but I didn’t get as much of a grasp on his character.
    • Mik(ivikious): Okay, so first of all: I LOVE THE NAME. (It’s a nickname, off his last name.) And I really did enjoy his character, so yay! His perspective was drawn out as comic strips (which was fabulous), though his character was revealed more through the plot and the other characters.
  • The multiple POVs in this book were so absolutely delightful to read. As I mentioned, we get the perspectives of all the above characters, though Bishop and Mik’s POVs were not like the others. Jaycee’s perspective was the only one in first person; Natalie’s and Jake’s were in third person. I absolutely loved how it all played out! Everything transitioned so perfectly and the multiple POVs weren’t confusing and instead helped give insight on the many characters of this book.
  • This book had so many amazing themes. Like, seriously. From grief to friendships to change and familial relationships, You Were Here handled it all seamlessly and it was so great to read about such lovely themes. I especially liked:
    • Jaycee and Natalie’s friendship. At the start of the book, they’ve drifted apart to the point where they hardly speak, but through the events of the novel, their bond and the way they interact as they become a part of eachother’s lives was so great to read about.
    • And so many other great themes! Sorry I’m lazy.
  • The descriptions. Many (if not all) of the places the characters visited in this book are actually real places, I’ve found, and it was so cool to have such a clear picture of said place as I read the book. And yes, afterwards I did search up some of the places. Ahhh my wanderlust kicked in there! Though seriously, it was super cool.
  • Ummmm I feel like I’m missing something, ugh. I dunno. But these were definitely the high points!

Things That Disappointed Me

  • At times I felt as if the whole theme of the book kind of distracted by the romance? Yet the romance wasn’t the focus either. And it was still a good experience? But maybe it could’ve better if the romance part wasn’t the total focus. Maybe? Possibly? Soooo. Confusion ensues here.
  • Despite all the awesome-sauce feelings I had while reading this book, I find myself unable to get a clear, memorable picture of it in my head, despite having read it only a few months ago? I dunno. Maybe it’s a ME problem, and not the book, but.. I feel like I should be able to remember it more fondly and more clearly than I do right now?? Interpret that as you wish, lol, I know that made no sense.

Overall…

Entertainment-wise, this book is absolutely fabulous! Although it took me a while to warm up to it and finish it, as I went further into the novel I was hooked and it was only due to lack of time that I didn’t finish it sooner. And from a critical aspect, not so shabby either! Great characters, engaging writing, and a good plot that kept me interested throughout the story. I’m glad I continued on with this book despite my first impressions! This book is way more than just a pretty cover, I assure you. You Were Here releases tomorrow, March 1st! Be sure to keep your eye out for it if you haven’t already. 🙂


Aaaaand, I think that’s a wrap! Tell me your thoughts; what do you think of this book? What are some of your favourite books you’ve encountered with great characters? YA books with illustrations? Are you a fan of multiple POV books? Do you plan on reading this book?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! ❤ Happy reading! I hope your Monday isn’t too terrible. LOL.

Until the Next Meal, Analee

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