Monday 24 November 2014

Before You, Amber Hart

Pages: 304
Publisher: K-Teen
Release Date: 29th July 2014
Edition: US e-proof, NetGalley review copy

It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don’t care.

Faith Watters has a picture-perfect life. She’s captain of the dance team, popular, happy. She even spent her junior year travelling the world before returning to Oviedo High for her senior year. But she’s living a lie.

Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn’t stand a chance of fitting in, and doesn’t want to. His only concern is his secret past – a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him his life.

Everyone knows that Faith and Diego don’t belong together. But fate has its own plan. All they want is to be free. What they get is something different entirely.

Love – it will ruin you...and save you.

From the synopsis, I was hoping that Before You was going to be a sexy, addictive and emotional rollercoaster akin to Perfect Chemistry but sadly it didn’t quite live up to that awesome.

Before You is incredibly cheesy and easy to read, but even with the sensitive topics covered in Faith and Diego’s story, there wasn’t a whole lot of depth to it. The issues of drug use, gang involvement, prejudice, privilege and race all felt a little preachy which added to the shallow sense of the story for me. And yet I still thoroughly enjoyed Hart’s debut. It’s a palate-cleansing kind of novel – a quick, easy read to get me reading again; it’s engrossing in its mindlessness.

The dual narrative really demonstrated the obvious differences between Faith and Diego, but it also emphasised their similarities as well as how they made each other fit in their worlds a little better. They made a brilliant couple, but I still didn’t buy into their chemistry or love. It just felt too full-on too quickly; it felt false. I did still want them to overcome the obstacles between them to get it together, and I enjoyed the moments of tension and sass between them.

I do think that a lot was given away from the very beginning. Faith’s secret was revealed very early on and I think it could have had real impact if it was held onto for a bit longer, teased out and hinted at for the reason behind Faith’s facade. Diego’s involvement with the cartel was explored in the opposite way and I much preferred that. It was a painful time for him and he kept it close to his chest which felt a lot more authentic and when the truth behind that scar came out it felt more powerful and relevant.

Even though Before You was far from perfect it was quick and fun to read and I have the companion, After Us lined up to read soon.

Thanks to NetGalley and K-Teen for the review copy.


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