Cover Image: Even If We Break

Even If We Break

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Member Reviews

DNF - did not finish. I decided not to finish this title. It was not for me. Thank you, publisher and NetGalley for the early copy.
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I have been wanting to read this novel, ready to love it as I am a big fan (and occasional player) of RPG. The setup of a murder mystery among the group of estranged friends who try the game for the last time for the sake of their friendship sounds great! But in the reality - the mystery is very weak, the fantasy RPG environment is scarcely used and the main content of the book is a self-help guide for young adults. And it is clichey at that, full of nicely sounding phrases. 

The author uses "inclusive" characters (out of the 5 teenage characters there is one non-binary, one trans and one autistic character), but their individual characteristics play no real role within the story. Why use an autistic character and then do not go deep with this? And while I probably would not read a novel with trans and non-binary characters being a central love couple (there is no sexual undertone here, to be honest), as this is not my area of interest (and I do find the teenage sex change operations being a concerning issue due to some of teenagers lacking the knowledge of the impact of this change to their whole life), I would probably like to know more of their honest troubles. 

I simply find this novel being a missed opportunity, trying to tackle many issues and do not fulfilling any of its aims.
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A lot of people didn't like that book, and honestly, I don't know why. 

Maybe it's because when I was a teen, I LOVED scary movies like Final Destination and Scream, where the characters were killed one after another. I LOVED books that were set in a similar setting (like the Frissons series, in French, I don't know how it's called in English). So for me, it was like a return to my teen years.... 20 years later. 

I loved the twist that I did see coming but I was surprised anyway. I couldn't read the book before going to sleep because I was SO SCARED. 

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the copy of this book through the Early Reads program and for the complimentary e-copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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It’s unusual to find a book with such a diverse range of characters so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. The storyline was powerful but also quite upsetting. I would be wary of recommending in case it was too upsetting. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for an egalley.
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I enjoyed how this story was told from several different character POV's as it makes for a great book and adds to the story. There is a lot going on and it is great to read from different perspectives. I enjoyed the mystery of the book and trying to figure out what was going on and who is responsible. An enjoyable read to the very end, I recommend this novel.
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I loved This is Where It Ends, and this was such a worthy follow-up! I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters, and I enjoyed the fact that it was a quick read.
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Marieke really doesn't shy away from tough topics when she outlines her novels, does she?

Previously, her most memorable book was probably This is Where It Ends, which is a novel about a school shooting told through multiple points of view.

This book too is a story told through multiple points of view. It's also very queer, and includes my favourite characters Ever--a nonbinary RPG storyteller who pulls the whole group together--and transgender Finn. These are just elements of their characters, by the way. I don't believe I saw any transphobia from any of the main characters, though there was a transphobic beating in Finn's recent backstory.

I don't know how much I can say about the other characters without giving large parts of the plot away, but it involves a cabin in the woods, a teen getaway to one of a rich character's family home and some sentimental concluding of the role playing game that has brought these five characters together before some of them go off to college. However, being that it is in a cabin in the woods, there are some typical Bad Things that come to happen in the cabin-in-the-woods trope.

The novel goes by really fast and is fantastically paced, with introductions of all five characters at the start and an amazing twist that I did not at all see coming at the end. Loved it.
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This was a book that I Really enjoyed this read and I would recommend to others easily, I will be looking out for other titles by this author.
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I initially started to read an eARC of this book before its release date. I stopped reading it because I just couldn’t get into it.
Fast forward 6 months later and I decided to give it a try again regardless of the bad reviews.

Let’s just say I should’ve listened.

What a waste of time this book was.
I almost DNF it like 3x but I really wanted to know the big mystery.

I didn’t like that all the characters basically sounded the same. And they were all boring. 
The big mystery though was the worst part of this book. So not only is it easy to figure out who the bad guy is but there was literally no point to the plot. The murderer didn’t actually have a reason.

I really don’t recommend this book as it was mostly boring.
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Not quite right for my patrons..  Superb character development, elegant world building, and compelling plotting.
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Suzanne and I talk all the time about how we should be doing an *OK, But* podcast — where we take something that seems like a perfectly reasonable idea and then explain why it’s actually completely weird. (The first episode would be about the guy who got arrested for wearing a top hat because it’s SO SHINY it’s dangerous.) And I feel like Even If We Break would be a contender for that imaginary podcast: Five friends meet up at a cabin for one last session of their favorite role-playing game before they move on to the next stage of their lives, but there are DARK SECRETS and DANGER lurking.

OK, BUT the dark secrets and danger are ill-defined, and the fast-paced first half piles up a body count before segueing into a weirdly introspective second half — it feels like they’ve paid for a therapy session, so they’ve got to get through it, even though they’re in deadly peril and should probably be focused more on not getting murdered. I did think the trans character, Finn, was really well written, and (spoiler?) did not exist merely in order to be murdered as quickly as possible, but the other characters were less engaging. Not unlikable — just not particularly memorable. Even with all the talking and explaining and internal monologues, it was hard to puzzle out what was going on — and the “big reveal” at the end feels unearned and kind of tacked on. I really appreciated that friendship and romance carried the same relationship weight in the story — I feel like that’s something some YA books tend to forget. Ultimately, though, this book isn’t character-driven, it isn’t suspenseful, it isn’t surprising, and it isn’t satisfying. A nope for me.
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This book has great representation (trans, genderqueer, disabled, and autistic characters), and a solid hook (old friends who have grown apart come back together to play one last murder mystery game, on a notoriously haunted mansion). That said, I felt like it took too long to get going and had too much exposition and internal monologuing to keep me engrossed.
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Even if We Break by Marieke Niijkamp was confusing, the diversity felt forced (how have #ownvoices authors felt about the representation), and the conclusion was unrealistic. The drama throughout the book was ridiculous. Normally, I recommend Niijkmap books to my students, but this one will not be on my shelves.
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This book starts in media res, so you better hold on tight and figure out what's going on. Blending RPG with a murder mystery, and adding some queer and disability representation, this book unpacks a lot in a short amount of time. The thriller aspect wasn't as solidly done as other books, but we get plenty of suspense to make sense of characters and their actions.
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I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 

I seem to really enjoy Marieke’s writing, and when I learned this had queer and autistic rep, this book shot up my TBR! And I’m glad I did, this was another one I marathoned through in one go, I couldn’t put it down.

Firstly, it’s set as a D&D murder mystery style game and I am SO jealous that I can’t play that with my D&D crew, it sounded so fun. Secondly, I really enjoyed how the role play element blended into the real lives, and how the writing gave us enough to see both along side the thriller. We also really get to know the characters in a short time.

The thriller element, while not the best I’ve even seen, was pretty well done. It concentrates more on the “why” and “what next” than the who - I figured it out pretty early on, and I think you’re supposed to. I have seen a couple of people who didn’t enjoy this part, but it worked pretty well for me. The tension and suspense is well built, and we know enough about the characters for their actions to make sense.

Out of the five main characters, we also have some frankly amazing rep. There is a trans guy, a non binary character and an autistic character. Plus some great disability rep. It was really great to see so much, without it pulling the focus of the book I loved our main characters. Plus the romance element between Finn and Ever is super cute.

I definitely recommend this. 4 stars.
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this book starts in the middle of the action. There is no build up or anything and it doesn’t work in my opinion l
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This book was the second book I have read by this author. The first book I read by this author was This Is Where it Ends. I feel like this book definitely didn’t live up to the expectations I had for it after reading the other book. I feel like the story was missing so much to make it an amazing and interesting book. While I was reading the book I couldn’t connect to any characters and the storyline to me just wasn’t fully developed or it was rushed. I will still try the next book this author publishes but, this was definitely not my favorite by far.
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I adore closed door mysteries (where everyone is locked inside the room/house/location) until the crime is solved. Add a horror element, and you have my full and total attention. Not enough authors in this genre, however, have the writing chops to pull it off. You know who the killer is right away, or the atmosphere is wrong, or the reason the characters can’t leave is too contrived and could be easily fixed. [author]’s new novel, Even If We Break, however, gets every step correct. 

Ever, Finn, Carter, and Maddie are heading to Liva’s family’s cabin in the woods. When I say cabin, I mean the stuff out of your glamping fantasies; a glorious fireplace, a full kitchen, and a top notch security system. Once, the system was accidentally triggered, and Liva’s boyfriend Zac had to call the security company to get her out. Once the system is triggered, there’s no way to get in - or out - of the cabin. 

Who’s in the room? 

The five kind-of friends are heading to the cabin for one last LARP (live action role playing) session before the summer ends and they all head off in various directions. They have been tight friends, playing this game together, for years. Something between Finn and Liva set off group tension, however, and it’s been months since they played. They’re only coming together now at Ever’s request, and everyone is tense about how this will go. But it’s worth it for one more chance to try and be themselves, the tight knit group of people who used to love each other so deeply. Even if it breaks them. 

Why are they trapped? 

Normally, the kids would have all been able to drive up to the cabin. This time, however, a storm has led to a washed out road, so they need to hike in — and climb over a major fallen tree. This would be hard in general, but Finn has a physical disability that requires them to use crutches. They struggle to navigate the tree in the beginning of the story, and consider turning back around and bailing on the whole weekend. They continue forward, and so does the story. 

The cabin itself is in the middle of a mountain, and as mentioned above, the cabin has a state of the art security system. Once the system is activated, there’s no getting out. 

Everyone has a secret.

In bad stories in this genre, there’s a single event that the characters are all hiding — someone accidentally running someone over with their car, for example. In good stories in this genre, everyone has something to hide. These stories are by far my favorite, because while we all might agree that we would hit someone and run, the individual secrets are smaller, more personal by nature, and things that we, the readers, can identify with more easily. Someone saw something they should have spoken up about and didn’t. Someone took something they shouldn’t have. Someone has a darkness that they haven’t shared. In each of the secrets, I could see a shadow of myself, a moment I’d rather not remember, an event I’ve tried to make up for or excuse over time. It’s easy to ask myself, what if that secret was known? What if that secret made someone mad? In Even If I Break, everyone has something to hide, and hiding it is crucial. If the secret is made known, it will dramatically change how others think about them, and possibly negatively affect them for the rest of their lives. 

Who’s doing it? 

In bad versions of these stories, it’s immediately obvious who the bad guy is. Only one person had access to something, or only one person could have known all the secrets, and the reader can notice them right away. Not in Even if We Break. I found myself completely convinced that different people were responsible at different points throughout the story. The characters doubt each other and question each other, even as they die, one after one. No one is sure; no one is safe. The idea of it being an outside force is completely conceivable as well. There is someone who knows their routines, has access to the cabin, and could be there, hiding in the woods and aware of the secrets that are being tucked away in dark corners. 

The devil is in the details.

This book has a feature that is almost necessary for these types of stories and yet is so difficult to pull off: switching viewpoints. Seeing all the different elements of the story is crucial to understanding the secrets that are in play and to shake your conviction that you know who the killer is. The problem is that a lot of authors are bad at switching viewpoints because a lot of characters basically sound like the author. (note: I am completely guilty of this. All of my characters have roughly the same tone, even when I work hard to make them different people.) 

One of the most stand-out characters, though, never appears on page in real-time: Liva’s father. Liva’s family has Money-with-a-capital-M, and her dad is a complete, cold-hearted bastard. He made me understand how deeply my politics have progressed towards “eat the rich.” Ten years ago, I would have found him to be an overblown characterization of what a rich capitalist would be. Reading Even if We Break, I thought “yeah, I can see it.” 

Finding safety

One of the most crucial elements for me in these stories is that the characters themselves must identify and neutralize the murderer. Having Hercule Poirot (or Benoit LeBlanc, or Columbo, for that matter) show up and sort it all out doesn’t count. Those are great mysteries, but that’s not what I want from a story like this. 

The group of potential killers starts to decrease, and the reader becomes more sure that there are at least a few definitively innocent people in this story. Their mission, then, is to escape the closed room and get themselves free. This is where the difficulty comes in. It can’t be a simple as finding the key that unlocks the door. So much more needs to happen. 
In Even if We Break, the characters fight, and fight hard for their freedom. They fight to escape, knowing that they’re almost certainly being stalked by their killer even as they flee. I was not positive who the killer was until the final confrontation, and when the truth was revealed, I believed every word of it, even though it turned my heart inside out. I’d wanted, so badly, to be wrong. 

The events of Even if We Break don’t change the world, and they don’t make the surviving characters into instant heros. In an epilogue of sorts, they are trying to make sense of their experience, trying to understand why that night ended why it did, and trying to find a way to live their most honest lives. 

I read Even if We Break on a sunny day, curled up on the little deck outside my apartment, and I was chilled throughout the story. It was absolutely everything I want from a locked room mystery, and nothing that put me off. A stellar narrative that excited, delighted, and horrified me by turns. I’m going to wait until my 12 year old is older to recommend the book to her, not because I think she won’t like the story, but more because she doesn’t enjoy horror elements yet. 

Nothing about Even if We Break struck me as gory, and it has representation for a queer and nonbinary characters, as well as disabled characters and an autistic character. I know some of this rep is ownvoices, but I’m not sure precisely which pieces. 

There is some discussion of transphobia towards the nonbinary character, and one instance of assault against them. It’s not a, well, pornographic description, but it is clear, and the emotional impact is discussed. It’s not gratuitous, in my opinion, and it is required for the story.
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I enjoyed this thriller and will definitely be reading more books by this author. I thought it was neat that each chapter is about one character. Each has experienced something that has changed heir friendships. It’s a good read for the fall or Halloween. Thanks to netgalley for the opportunity to give my honest opinion
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A solid outing from Nijkamp.  Will appeal to teen reading who enjoy thrillers.  I felt like it dragged a bit but ended up being satisfying at the end.
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