V.C. Andrews was one of my favorite authors when I was a teen, and I loved and loathed the drama she gave me time and again. While she isn’t as popular with my high school readers as she should be, there are books filling that gothic, twisty horror void in YA today. We’ll Never Be Apart is going to fit into that category. Part mystery, and part psychological horror, this book will definitely keep readers engaged, but never sure which twin is going to triumph in the end.
That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.
Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.
The premise of We’ll Never Be Apart hints at a rather dark story – a mental hospital, pyromania, a bad twin – and the truth is that this book is almost as gothic as a V.C. Andrews classic (and I mean that in the very best of ways). Alice is a really compelling character because she so easily becomes someone you trust despite the fact that she is in a mental hospital. Readers will quickly recognize that she is a casualty of her unstable twin, Cellie. Part of what is so engaging about the story is that you want to see Alice triumph over the evils of her sister, but you aren’t convinced she will. Chase, a fellow patient, is another character that readers will feel pretty confident is not mentally ill. He is charming in a bad boy way, and his relationship with Alice feels like a healthy step for her. My problem with Chase really didn’t surface until the end when I felt like his motives come across as somewhat contrived, but I don’t think other readers will necessarily see it that way. The plot is well paced to maintain the mystery and still draw a developing picture of characters and the situation. This is primarily the result of a smart choice in the narrative structure, which alternates between the present and Alice’s journal entries about her past. I did think that the resolution was a little rushed and it glossed over big issues that I thought needed a little more attention, but I was satisfied by the ending. The story is full of rather horrific incidents and a few expected revelations, and sometimes I felt dread about what was going to show up in the next chapter, but I see my high school readers enjoying it. I would recommend it to fans of When We Were Liars and readers who enjoy twisty psychological suspense/thrillers. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.