But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

“Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This is another one of the books I picked up at ALA Midwinter!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 3.5/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: This book fell really flat for me. The description seemed fairly interesting, where this girl, Eden, had leftover “magic” and connection to the other and could use that to possibly communicate to this other girl in a coma, but bring it back. However, I never felt this plot was even well explored, because the romance and family drama plots seemed to take over. In addition, almost all characters lacked continuity, with their personalities, if they had one, all over the place, and changing to fit the situation, not the situation changing to fit the characters.

The Good: A semi unique plot, not necessarily a concept I’ve seen before.

The Bad: Flaky characters, a random on and off romance, actually writing and scenes felt jumpy and unplanned (ex: Eden has tantrum/breakdown in middle of the hospital, five paragraphs later they randomly decide to go bowling?)

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE

The Characters: By far my least favorite thing about the book. No one seemed realistic, all just seemed to be instruments of a random/jumpy plot, making their personalities ever changing as well. For example, who even is Eden? Is she the mean girl that teases her friends at lunch? Is she the rebellious girl that goes to clubs with her friends, drinks, and randomly proclaims her love to one of them? Is she the bleeding heart, claiming Joe as her “one great thing” after a month together? Is she the flirt who, even in serious situations, needs to comment on various attractive aspects of Joe, claiming she agrees and likes anyone who says they appreciate him? Or is she secretly all of these things, and just changes when it would create the most drama in a situation? It would be more manageable if only the main character was like this, and could be marked down as “finding herself.” But every single main character was like this! From brother to love interest, no one seemed to be able to keeping a personality.

The Plot: While somewhat unique, I felt it wasn’t explored as well as it should have been. The book seemed to focus instead on the on and off relationship of Joe and Eden (from kisses to random disappearances I guess?), and the family/friend drama of Eden coming back from a coma, and not liking and wanting to be a part of her friend group. Honestly, this book could have been much better had the whole “connection to the other side and saving Jaz” not been a plot, since that was not even developed well enough to be interesting now, and those words could have been used to develop characters and the other plots.

The Favorite Character: Of all the ones truly explored, none. However, Eden’s mom seemed nice.

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