Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on January 27th, 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.
That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.
I tend to avoid books with difficult subjects–the complete opposite of my co-blogger Bekka. I like to be entertained by the stories I read, and I don’t find people being abused, shot, or tortured entertaining. But every now and then, I read a blurb that makes me want to pick up a book, to delve into the darker aspects of fiction that I normally pass over. That was the case with Cut Me Free. To be quite honest, if it had just been a YA book with an abuse storyline, I would have probably avoided it because that would make me super sad and since I deal with depression, the last thing I need is something that makes me more depressed. But this book was also billed as a thriller. And you know how much I love those. So I just had to have it.
I was hoping for the best, but my expectations were low as I had never read this author before. And that was probably a good thing, because at its heart, Cut Me Free is neither a dark contemporary about abuse nor a thriller–it’s a romance. I KNOW. Totally unexpected and not what I wanted. The other elements were there, but every time they started to get good, it was interrupted by romance. Now it’s not a BAD romance or anything, in fact, I quite liked the love interest. But I do think it would have worked better if they were friends. And this is where I get annoyed, because I complain often about how irritating it is to have a romance in every single YA book. Listen, I know teens are interested in the opposite sex, but it is insulting to think that they won’t read something if it doesn’t have romance in it, and it is simply NOT TRUE.
Moving on before I start throwing things. The characters were a problem for me. The story was pretty dark, as was expected, but I am simply not gonna care if I don’t feel an attachment to the characters. And as upsetting as Charlotte/Piper’s story was, her character was flat and I couldn’t find it in myself to care about her because she always kept me at a distance and she never brought me in. Perhaps it was her voice or the style in which it was written, but it didn’t work for me as well as it could have.
The suspense worked, and the thriller aspects were by far my favorite parts, but it’s not like they were surprising or anything; in fact, it was all very predictable. And then there were the suspension of disbelief issues. The author asked me to believe some events that are part of the conclusion that just made me eyeroll. There is a character, Lily, who is a cousin of the love interest, and she does not much care for the protagonist. She plays into the story line in a way that just pissed me off. Her irate anger and mistreatment of the protagonist is appalling, but her reasons for doing it, which you find out at the end, are just…impossible to believe. NO ONE is that stupid, and that’s all I’m saying. And when the ending of a book is ruined for me because of plot events that just don’t work for me, the rest of the book falls flat too.
What I am saying, is that I didn’t hate Cut Me Free–far from it, actually. This book makes me want to read more books like this. The premise of this book is absolutely brilliant, it’s the execution that didn’t work for me. The author’s writing is solid, but the voice of the characters gave me trouble. Would I read something from this author again? Yes. I absolutely would. It just depends on what it is.