book review · Uncategorized

All The Reasons I Loved Even If We Break

Hi all, it’s Sabrina!  Something that has always annoyed me about my reading habits is that I usually pick books on a whim – I hear or see something about a book and think, okay, I’m going to read that as soon as I can and I put it on hold from my library.  And then I immediately forget why.  Recently, this happened with Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp – I, for some unknown reason, suddenly got it from Libby, with the feeling that I should have low expectations.  I ended up adoring it and so I was confused (and, honestly, a little angry) to see it has a really low average rating of 2.94 on GR (at the time of writing this).  This is probably why I had those low expectations!  I will acknowledge that of course it’s not a perfect book, but it’s hard to feel like that average rating is justified – especially after reading some of the reviews 😳  So today, instead of fully reviewing the book, I’ve decided to just share with you my favourite things about it and spread some love!  There’s no spoilers, so let’s get into it!

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
YA, Contemporary, Horror, Thriller

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

1) the tense, creepy atmosphere

Set in an isolated cabin on a mountain, this story was destined to have loads of atmosphere.  I loved the way the forest area and the cabin itself were described and it was especially interesting to me that the cabin had so many expensive amenities considering its secluded location.  I also appreciated that the story included the characters taking the trip up the mountain – it really helped me get a sense of exactly how out of the way this place was and how difficult it would be for the characters to leave.  The mountain is also rich with folklore and specific ghost stories – after hearing those things, which I will not spoil, you would absolutely not catch me going to stay at this cabin!

All this is set up before the horror/thriller part of the story even  really kicks in, and when that happens the tension is turned up several more notches!  It’s so creepy and enthralling that I struggled to put the book down.  The pacing was so well done, especially in the first 75% of the book.  I have to say this definitely leans more on the horror side of thriller than the mystery side, and it is especially great for people (like me) who are scared easily and aren’t overly familiar with horror – there were scenes in this that had me so freaked out and so afraid for the characters!  I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next and I was glad I didn’t read it too close to bedtime, lol.

2) the rotating perspectives from the diverse cast of characters

In books of this nature, I try to keep a healthy distance from the characters because of the likelihood they’ll be killed off, but it was impossible for me to do that here for several of the five main characters.  I loved getting to hear from each one of the main characters and how they were feeling – especially as they were all such unique perspectives.  The book features a non-binary character, a trans and disabled character and an autistic character with chronic pain.  It was so engaging and heart-wrenching, seeing how the identities and past traumas of each character entwined with the plot and impacted the way they reacted to a terrifying situation (ie. stuck in a maybe-haunted cabin in the woods).  Every character had their own personality, problems, insecurities, dreams and goals and they all felt very authentic, like real teens.

3) the shifting character dynamics

When the story starts, it’s pretty clear that these characters who used to be the best of friends are now all on uncertain footing due to a combination of circumstances.  It felt so reminiscent to me of my own time nearing the end of high school, the inevitable drifting apart from some people – the book captured the feeling of that change and the potential for loss as your friends are sort of shifting their personalities and priorities, preparing for the next big step in each of their lives.

Because of this, and a few other specific occurrences, there are different, interweaving relationships between each of the characters – and it is so fascinating.  I loved seeing the characters through four other points of view and learning the secrets they kept from one another.  It was also compelling to see how over the course of this horrific experience the dynamics between the characters altered, especially how some of them grew all the more closer and supported each other.

4) the incorporation of the characters’ interests

I am a huge fan of authors giving their characters passions and hobbies, particularly when they weave into the plot and are really delved into.  It’s so enjoyable for me to experience something new through the eyes of someone who loves it.  One example of this is Finn’s goth fashion style.  I loved reading about his experience with that and the way he decorated his crutches was such a cool detail.  However, the biggest element of this incorporation of hobbies in Even If We Break is the RPG (role-playing game) that the characters travel to the cabin to play together for the last time.  I absolutely loved the way this was melded into the story – it’s not only important to the overall plot, but to the character growth too.  It was really interesting to see the way the roles the characters’ constructed for themselves in the game reflected on their individual personalities.  The game also gave the story a mystical, imaginative element that drew me right in – particularly in the passages that were written as though they were taking place in the world of the RPG.  I’ve never played a game in the way these characters did before, but this was possibly my favourite part of the book!

What do you think?

Have you read this book or do you plan to?  Have you ever experienced a shock when seeing the average rating of a book you’ve read?  Have you ever played an RPG in real life?  Let me know!

12 thoughts on “All The Reasons I Loved Even If We Break

  1. Fantastic review, Sabrina! This book has been floating around the back of my tablet and it just keeps getting passed over.. now I think I’ll have to find some time for it because I am intrigued.

    Liked by 1 person

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