ARC Review: You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

4/5 Stars 
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published March 1st, 2016

Synopsis: Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother's death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake's favorite hideout - the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn't bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenged her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother. 

This book really struck a chord in me, and I'm not even sure why. Whether it be the group of extremely anomalous and baggage bearing friends, or spending that last summer after graduation repairing the bent, but not broken friendships, this book had me from the start. There was something captivating about the blatantly heavy grief that was weighted upon each characters' shoulders - it added an extra nuance that kept you second-guessing their personalities and motives. Cori McCarthy will drag you in on this mystery infused, dare inspired adventure with more than just her strong writing voice. She'll reel you in with a relatable story, a gripping plot, characters with complexities beyond the eye can see, and a mind boggling game of truth or dare.

To get this party started, I really want to address the cast of characters in this book. There are five main characters- all of whom were individually diverse and intriguing. Jaycee is an incredibly headstrong character and is the definition of blunt and harsh, but has a great sense of humor and sarcasm which made her point of views very fun to read. Natalie (who by the way is Asian, yay!!) was the yin to Jaycee's yang; softer and subtler, yet just as dedicated to getting the job done. I really enjoyed watching this friendship between Natalie and Jaycee bloom, because you could tell that despite the events that happened in the past, they still felt for one another and wanted to be there for each other. You Were Here emphasizes the importance of friendship and shows how important it is to be there for each other when everything falls apart.

I thought the premise of this story was really fun, despite the very dark themes that surrounded it. There's nothing like spending your last summer before college with your friends exploring the place you grew up in. It establishes stronger bonds and tests friendships, all while allotting time to have some fun. This book had such a darker undertone than I was expecting, that it even had me paranoid for some parts. The characters exuded emotion; so much that I could physically feel the grief, the happiness, the concern in each of them. I'm still reeling from the revelations that were disclosed in order to put an end to the misery brought on by this mystery. Everything was powerfully written, and yet it still had a comedic flare that made it all the more likable. There was a slow-burning romance in this book that was so delicious to devour, that when things finally happened, I was going crazy. My heart was thudding so fast and my hazy mind at the wee hours of the am was spinning at how intense everything was - romantically, and otherwise.

You Were Here was a quick read for me and one that had me hooked from the beginning to the end. If you're looking for a book that's more than your regular contemporary read, this is a book you should try out. I enjoyed the fast-paced development of this book and the thrilling adventure of rediscovering your past to determine your future.