I couldn’t wait to read We Were Never Here, by Andrea Bartz, because I always love thrillers with a twisted friendship at the heart, and this was a perfect example. Emily loves Kristen, they are absolute ride-or-die besties, with amazing annual girls’ trips, but even from the beginning, Emily is oddly reluctant to mention that she’s started dating someone.
Emily and friend Kristen are on a wonderful girls trip in Chile when a hookup attacks Kristen and, in defending herself, she kills him. They can’t trust the local police, and decide to hide the body, trusting that they’ll be back home long before anyone wonders about a backpacking drifter. It’s a shock, and a wild opening to the novel, only… the same thing happened to the girls already, on another trip with another backpacker hookup…
I skimmed some of the gory scenes, and there’s a certain amount of grossness that comes with hiding a body. I didn’t actually care about the murders, since the men were trying to force themselves on women. The novel never wonders if maybe she led him on or maybe he didn’t mean it, maybe there’s some way to reimagine the story where it was a misunderstanding and he wasn’t trying to force himself on here. Instead, it wonders if maybe she could have just stabbed him a little instead of killing him. There’s almost a vigilante feel, although the Chilean police would definitely not see it that way.
We Were Never Here is such a tense story, as the lies and coincidences pile up, Emily tries to decide whether Kristen’s actions are wild impulsivity or sinister control of their relationship. So as Emily begins to find out more about Kristen, I couldn’t help wondering what she could do if her worst suspicions were true. Doesn’t your best friend always have the dirt on you? Kristen has been literally her partner in crime, and we’ve already seen how she twists events into new stories.
Back at home, Emily has a new boyfriend, Aaron, a sort of generically good guy, who always has a good time, always sees the best in people, and who just likes to get stoned and eat pizza. He’s just such a sweetly normal guy, and I read this hoping nothing bad would happen to him. This makes such a perfect counterpoint to the twisted, disturbing friendship.
This is a real page-turner full of secrets and riddles. I saw We Were Never Here loads of times on bookstagram and on other blogs before I got to read it, and all the hype is not misplaced. Fans of thrillers and suspense will love this page-turner, through the very last page.
Good match for fans of Reckless Girls, for girls exploring distant locations to further their own agenda, The Suspect, for the dark side of backpacking, The Glass Kingdom, for travelers with big secrets, or The Wild Girls, for screwed-up friendships on an exotic trip.
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