Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, as always, we will be discussing a thriller by Andrea Bartz called We Were Never Here. Was it the best book I ever read? No. But it was pretty good and a nice change of pace after reading the sweetly sentimental A Man Called Ove. Before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on We Were Never Here for violence and murder, sexual assault, abuse in all forms, and harm to an animal. Now, let’s get to it:
Kristen and Emily. Emily and Kristen. Kremily for short. They have been inseparable besties since college and are still going strong over a decade later. While Emily resides in Wisconsin, Kristen moved to Australia for work but they talk all day every day and take a best friends trip once a year. During their travels, they explore locations that are outside of the norm of Paris and London. They much prefer locations like Uganda, Vietnam, and Laos to name a few.
Every trip that they have had left Kristen and Emily giddy and the travel bug continued to bite, until something bad happened in Cambodia last year. What should have been an awesome one night stand for Emily with a handsome stranger went horribly wrong and ended in his murder when Kristen arrived on scene. Panicked and in a foreign country, the best friends put their heads together to dispose of the body, get back to their respective homes, and put the whole thing behind them.
It took a lot of work for Emily to get back to a good place and where she is still isn’t great but better. In fact, she has even got back into the dating scene by going out with the adorable Aaron. She had Kristen to thank for getting her through the toughest time of her life and being strong for the both of them. And, finally, the fear of being caught dwindled into an annoying thought that would sometimes pop up in the back of her head.
Despite what happened in Cambodia, the girls still take their annual best friends trip and find themselves in Chile. The getaway has been amazing and Emily truly believes that her and Kristen are closer than ever and completely made it through their shared horrors. Until the last night of their vacation. In a terrible instance of lightening striking twice, they find themselves in an eerily similar situation to Cambodia. This time, Kristen was the victim and her attacker was dead well before Emily burst through the door.
Emily and Kristen were on a massive time crunch before returning to their homes and had to hastily bury the body in a shallow grave in a remote farming community. Understandably, Emily is freaking out because there is no way they are going to be able to get away with murder twice. Kristen, on the other hand, is acting strange. Really strange. As if nothing happened at all and that everything is A-okay.
Unsettled by her friend’s far from normal reaction, Emily begins to pull away from Kristen and, for once, the distance between them feels like a good thing. Emily continues to avoid until it becomes impossible because Kristen shows up at her front door, claiming to be “over” Australia. Once Kristen is home, she begins popping up everywhere to the point of being stalkery; Emily’s favorite yoga studio, brunch with her boyfriend, even her therapist’s office.
Desperate to get away from Kristen but afraid to say so, Emily agrees to a birthday weekend at the lake house belonging to Kristen’s grandparents. Still wary, Emily decides to do some good old fashioned snooping and is shocked from her findings; Kristen’s childhood best friend committed suicide two weeks after Kristen’s parents died in a house fire. Is Kristen literally the most unlucky person on planet Earth or were three deaths in one month the result of something more sinister?
The walls are closing in on Emily from all sides because the backpacker they disposed of in Chile has been found and a handsome reward is offered for information. She no longer trusts Kristen and for good reason – five people are dead and they might all be at her hands. All Emily knows is that she is not safe and neither is her new beau. Will Emily get to the bottom of Kristen’s dark past once and for all? And will the girls get away with murder twice? Read We Were Never Here to find out!
As I said, We Were Never Here definitely fell into the “just okay” category for me. It was good, but not great. It was also incredibly easy to figure out every major twist and turn, which is both a blessing and a curse. I like the feeling of being right, but I like being surprised by grand reveals much more! Despite consistently knowing where this book was going, I still considered it to be unputdownable and finished it in a matter of four sittings. Perhaps not so much for the plot as much as Andrea Bartz’s writing style being very similar to Rachel Hawkins, an author who I really enjoy.
As far as characters go, I honestly didn’t care much for Emily, Kristen, or any of the supporting characters for that matter. Kristen and Emily were truly Yin and Yang. Kristen was bubbly, vivacious, and strong. Emily was anxious, fumbling, and weak in comparison. Both of the girls remained the same throughout the duration of the book and it bored me. There was no real character development and that was another reason why it was easy to figure We Were Never Here out; Nothing Emily or Kristen did surprised me.
I’ll be the first to admit that the plot of this story is one of the more far fetched ones that I have read and that’s fine. The crazy plot wasn’t supported with major shocks, though, and I never felt like there was a definite climax or resolution. We Were Never Here fired on all cylinders until it was over and it made the read less fulfilling. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless it was a palette cleanser read, but I would read more by Andrea Bartz because she does show promise as an author I could get into.
Overall, I am going to rate We Were Never Here with a four and a half out of ten stars. This is a book that you can definitely skip on if you are looking for something better than just “pretty good”!
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah