You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 400 – hardcover & ebook
Format Read: eARC
Rating: 4 stars
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 challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.
**Thank you Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review below.**
This book had me smiling goofily at 5 in the morning. Honestly, it was that good. I don’t even know why I’ve put it off for so long, maybe because I was expecting a cheesy YA contemporary but instead got a touching story about a bunch of misfit teenagers who were just trying to find themselves. The story is told through the alternating POVs of Jaycee — the daredevil, Natalie — her uptight ex-best friend, Bishop — a heartbroken artist, Zach — a slacker with so much going on underneath, and Mik — a selective mute who challenges Jaycee. Bishop’s POV is told through graffitied poetry and Mik’s is told through a series of graphic panels. Now, I know this all sounds very confusing, but somehow the story always manages to shift from the prose to the graffiti to the comic panels very seamlessly. All these teenagers have been affected, either directly or indirectly, by Jake’s death — especially Jaycee, his sister.
“We are all his collateral damage.”
I loved Jaycee from the very first page. Her brutal honesty and no-bs, daredevil attitude was extremely compelling; I loved it! Her attitude makes her likable and unlikable at the same time – she’s a controversial and dimensional character. She acts crazy half the time, and she’s quirky and witty with a very morbid sense of humor. I can honestly say I’ve never met another character like her. I usually call some characters unique in my reviews, but Jaycee is the epitome of uniqueness. Her personality most probably stems from seeing her brother snap his neck and die before her eyes; the girl’s obviously scarred.
Someone else who was definitely scarred by Jake’s death is Natalie, or Nat, Jaycee’s ex-best friend. Nat witnessed his death, too, but instead of being there for her friend, she ran home and stopped talking to Jaycee, which obviously hurt her. Nat was uptight and I didn’t like her at first, but she grew on me as the story progressed. We get to see more of her through her POV and how she’s still haunted by Jake’s death and suffers panic attacks. I really grew to admire her because she never told anyone and kept everything to herself, letting everyone believe that she was just an uptight bitch. Her relationship with Zach was adorable and I loved their dynamic both romantically and platonically.
Zach has so much going beneath the surface. Everyone thought that he was just a slacker who didn’t want to grow up but his POV contradicted that. He was everything I wanted in a character. Half the time, I just wanted to hug him and tell him that everything’ll be okay. I honestly can’t find the words to describe his character without spoiling things so I’m just going to- *squishes*.
There is one character who I don’t 100% adore — Bishop. Don’t get me wrong, I like him but he just seemed … distant, compared to the others. I didn’t understand his heartbreak over Marrakesh so maybe that was the problem, or he was just meant to be portrayed that way. Bishop is obviously a very passionate character and he portrays that in his art. I found the graffiti and word art poetry to be beautiful, moving, and emotional. It’s like Bishop pours out his feelings into the art and I admire that about him very much. The one thing that irked me was when he kept pushing Natalie to tell Zach what happened that night. The way he did it just didn’t sit very well with me.
Last but not least, Mik — which is short for Ryan Mikivikious. Mik is a selective mute and he used to be Jack’s childhood best friend. I can’t say he’s my favorite character because I honestly love all of them, but he is definitely the closest. The way his POV was told, through graphic novel panels, was amazing. I loved the art and how the graphics managed to accurately portray the atmosphere and what was going on. I always looked forward to his POV. His character was dimensional in every way & aspect, which I absolutely loved. What frustrated me was how long it took for him to get with Jaycee. The sexual tension was unbelievable! I’m glad it turned out to be totally worth it in the end.
Maybe none of us knew how to grow up.
The different POVs offered massive insight into all of the characters. They all hid things beneath their exterior; I loved how they all helped and challenged each other to find themselves at the end. They were more than a bunch of misfit teenagers, they were a bunch of kids who didn’t quite know how to grow up. The way I interpret this story, for every single place on Jack’s map that they travelled to, they found a piece of themselves that they buried in the past. I don’t mean to be profound, it’s just a very moving story. Also, kudos to the diverse characters!
In short, You Were Here features the most dimensional & diverse set of characters, along with intriguing storytelling complemented by beautiful prose and art. It is sure to be an unforgettable read! Keep your eyes peeled for its release on March 1, 2016!
Rating: 4 fish!