Cover Image: We Were Never Here

We Were Never Here

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Member Reviews

A fast paced suspense murder mystery that seems to be extremely predictable as you read through the first half and then starts to add some twists along the way. Through the first half of the story, I really disliked the main character Emily and was frustrated with her naiive view of her friendship. However, as the story evolved, I felt for her and she redeemed herself. The story flips and you're not sure who or what to trust, which is the redeeming part of the novel. Spoiler alert- there are various forms of trauma in this book and may not be for everyone. 

Overall, I finished this book in 24 hours and i was hooked. Some parts were frustrating, some were surprising. An easy beach read if you're looking for a new thriller. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this novel. 
I'll be picking up The Herd in the near future!
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When I first heard the synopsis, I was immediately hooked and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately this book felt flat and I was having a hard time connecting with the characters. Also for some reason the travel aspect was something I wasn’t a fan of either.
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This book had it's moments, but the relationships felt thin and painted on, Not etched? I'm hoping that makes sense. Let's all take a moment to think of what "etched" relationships are. Thanks for the galley!
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3.5 stars. We Were Never Here is my third Andrea Bartz novel, but even if I didn't already enjoy this author's books, I'd have wanted to read it immediately based on the description alone. Kristen and Emily are college best friends now separated by distance; Emily has built a life and career in Milwaukee, while Kristen moved to Australia for work after college. To stay connected, they take a vacation to an exotic location together ever year -- and during their trip to Chile, they find themselves disposing of a dead body after a sexual assault. The kicker is, the same thing happened to them the previous year, when they vacationed together in Cambodia. Emily is forced to confront the fact that these traumatic events may be more than just coincidence -- especially when Kristen unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep after their vacation, reinserting herself into Emily's daily life in invasive, occasionally stalkerish ways.

I was hooked on this book from the very beginning, even though the inciting event in the plot doesn't happen until about the 15% mark. Bartz takes her time with her set-up, introducing readers to the two complex women at the center of her narrative, building a sense of tension and mounting dread, and transporting us to the mountainous, isolated, jungle-and-desert landscape of Chile.

The first part of the book gives off strong Amanda Knox vibes, deals with issues surrounding the treatment of women in society and the media, and sets up one of my favorite narrative tropes: toxic female friendship. And throughout, the book is psychologically nuanced and deals effectively with the nature of trauma, memory, and boundaries.

After the first third of the book, things did start to unravel for me a bit. The middle of the book is too repetitive, meandering, and heavy-handed. The conclusion feels a bit muddled, and the final twist didn't quite work for me; I don't think there was enough in the text to support it. The entire ending, as a result, comes off as both too messy and too tidy, if that makes sense.

Bartz's books have all, in some way, dealt with themes of female empowerment, each of them coming at the topic from a different angle; it seems to me a trademark of hers and it makes me excited to read what she writes next. With We Were Never Here, Bartz has cemented herself on my "must-read" list. She has important things to say, and I really enjoy how she says them. Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Emily is quiet and lacks confidence, while Kristen loves adventure and can go anywhere and have a good time. They say opposites attract, and it must be true since these women have been best friends since the day they met. Even though Kristen now works in Sydney, they still talk all the time and plan exotic vacations together. 
Their trip to Cambodia didn't end well though. Emily is physically assaulted, and if Kristen hadn't arrived, it might have been much worse. Kristen killed the man and the question is, now what do they do? Risk telling the authorities in a foreign country when they have limited command of the language, or just get rid of the body and act as though nothing ever happened. Yep, easy peasy, right? 
These two must-have seriously annoyed the vacation gods though. Oh, they do get away with it, but on their next trip, they go to Chili, and a man tries to assault Kristen. Don't worry though, she gets the upper hand and kills him and now all they have to do is, you guessed it, dispose of another body and not get caught! Holy crap! You would think one vacation and one dead body would be enough to make these women stay home!
What happens next? Well, it seems Kristen doesn't approve of some of Emily's life choices and she has managed to keep enough evidence to make Emily look guilty as hell. Who is the cat and who is the mouse and will either woman emerge unscathed? 
Just when I thought I had figured everything out, the ending, that ending made my head explode. Even though I think some parts could have been shorter, I am still all in for a bananas character and even after a few days, I have some doubt about what actually happened.
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This was an excellent and totally unique read! I had such a hard time putting it down and kept second guessing everything I thought I knew!!

Emily and Kristen are BFFs and even though they now live on opposite ends of the globe, they plan a yearly trip to a new and exciting location. But after their last trip to Cambodia where Emily was sexually assaulted by another tourist, she is nervous and jumpy. Kristen had returned to the room during the assault and the girls did what they had to do - attacked back in self defense, leaving the assailant dead. Worried they’d be the next Amanda Knox, the women decide to take matters into their own hands and dispose of the body rather than report it. Now, a year later, the girls have seemingly gotten away with murder and are in Chile for their annual trip. But when Emily returns to the room one night to find another dead body of a man who allegedly assaulted Kristen, she must decide if this is a horrific coincidence or something more sinister. 

This book was really well written. I loved the characters of Emily and Kristen and the depiction of their friendship. It was fun trying to guess where the truth lay, who was manipulating who, and deciding whether or not Emily was a reliable narrator. I also really enjoyed her therapy sessions and thought they helped raise other interesting and intriguing plot points and also flesh out some personality traits in both the women. 

I enjoyed how the story of the original assault, murder, and disposal of the body were slowly revealed. Emily’s reactions and struggles with what they had done felt authentic, though a little redundant at times. Her anxiety could often be felt through the pages!

Finally, I loved how Bartz wrapped up the story but I won’t say more on this to avoid spoilers!

This is one I definitely recommend and suspect will be a big hit this summer!!  Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy of this novel.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine Books for gifting me a digital copy of the latest thriller by Andrea Bartz.  4 stars!  I loved Bartz's previous book, The Herd, and couldn't wait to read this one.  

Kristin and Emily have been best friends, almost to the exclusion of everyone else, since they first met in college.  Now living in different countries, they meet up once a year for a vacation in an exotic location.  When Emily is the victim of a sexual assault in Vietnam, Kristin steps in to protect her, with dire consequences.  The next year on a trip to Chile, a very similar incident happens.  Back home in the US, Emily starts questioning Kristin as well as her own memories of the incidents and can't let any of it go.  Then Kristin suddenly moves back and rents a place right down from Emily, leaving Emily with more questions about Kristin's behavior.  

This is a fast-paced thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last line in the book and even after that!  It's a wonderfully-written thriller, exploring the relationship between friends, our perceptions and memories, and the ability to manipulate others.  Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down.  It was a great escape book as you go along on the friends' vacations - although not a vacation I would want to be a part of!  Be sure to pick this one up and add it to your beach bag!
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This was such a messed up read and I loved every word of it. From the first dead body I was hooked and was dragged along on a crazy ride.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Emily and Kiersten are long time friends who travel together yearly.   When coincidence strikes in a similarly scripted plot, Emily wonders how much she can trust her best friend.
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This is a terrific thriller.  Emily and her best friend, Kristen, take an international trip each summer together.  Their most recent trip to Chile was perfect, until Emily comes back to their room the last night to find the man that Kristen brought back to their room dead in what Kristen says was an act of self-defense.  The scariest part?  The same thing happened on their trip the year before.  Both times, they decide not to report the incidents to police and instead dispose of the bodies on their own.  

As Emily returns home to Wisconsin and Kristen to Australia, Emily is determined to support Kristen through the trauma even though they are thousands of miles apart.  But Kristen seems untroubled, and Emily grows concerned and continues to worry about getting caught.  When Kristen shows up in Wisconsin out of nowhere, Emily's questions grow -- what really happened on the two trips and and what are secrets are being hidden?

This is a fast-paced and gripping story that will keep you guesses.  Highly recommend!
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The premise of this book was so interesting and unique. I loved the dynamic between the two main characters. The story is told from the POV of Emily who struggles with what her and Kristen have done while on vacation... twice. It had me thinking they were a female serial team for a while. The first third was fast and riveting. The middle a little slow, lots of repetitive thoughts and feelings exposed. The last third ended in a bang with a twist that makes you go hmmmm.  Overall, a solid thriller but left me a tad confused.
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I tried way to long to like this book and the beginning just dragged on for me a little longer than I could tolerate. This book was a DNF. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books for a copy of this book for an honest review.
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I normally love this author but this book was not a favorite. That being said I kept reading it and thinking about it so there had to be some sort of pull to the book. I would never go on a trip with this author after reading this book LOL. Like I said not my favorite but still a good read
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Emily is on vacation with her bestie, Kristen, when things take a turn for the worst.  Arriving back in The States, Kristen is acting like nothing happened but is acting very strangely by showing up randomly.  Emily is learning more and more about the past.  What really happened on vacation?

This book felt like 2 different authors wrote it.  The first 25% and the last 25% were really page turning and exciting.  The middle 50% was way too much inner-monologue by the main character, Emily.  Also, the author tried to paint Kristen as super creepy.  Sorry but maybe you don't know your besties as well as I do nor care about them as much as I do, but if my bestie told me she was moving in a few houses down, I would jump for joy and give her a hug and thank my lucky stars.  If she wanted to go to my yoga class, I would be thrilled.  What else is she supposed to do?  Just move to the same city and try to live as far away as possible?  I wouldn't find those behaviors creepy at all.  

Let me tell you about my best friend.  She is sunshine.  She is always late because she makes friends everywhere – standing in line at the checkout counter, at school, at church, with children.  She emits feelings of warmth and belonging.  She gives generously and open handedly.  She would give you the shirt off her back and would never bring it up, never say, “Do you remember the time that I did X for you?”  She is super smart, but she never gloats about it.  She is completely fluent in two languages, and she is incredibly brave and enjoys new things.  She aspires to serve her family from her farm where she has horses, chickens, goats, and dogs, as well as a garden.  She does not come from a family of farmers so she has had to learn all about farming and animal care.  If she calls at 3 am, I answer.  If she needs help, I would move heaven and earth to do so.
Now, Emily has never heard of unconditional love.  She immediately jumps in and starts in on judging poor Kristen.  Honestly, I still feel bad for Kristin.  How could they possibly have been friends so long?  This book also just rang of double-standards.  When a guy shows up unexpectedly, it is romantic.  When Kristin shows up, it is creepy?  I mean really.  Is this what the world has come to?  No wonder more and more people are depressed.  How can you be happy in the world when you can’t even see your best friend without being branded creepy?  

Overall, this book was quite moody. It started very well, seemed like an immature teenager in the middle, and ended on a higher note (although the last couple of pages of the book were rather forgettable).
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Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine for gifting an advance e-copy of We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

This was my first taste of Andrea Bartz and certainly won't be my last! This is a perfect summer thriller follows Emily and Kristen, best friends with a major case of Wanderlust. They pride themselves on being carefree and spirited, traveling the world sampling cuisine and interesting local boozy concoctions while their college friends have moved on to husbands and babies. Unfortunately, their travel adventures have taken on a sinister pattern, resulting in murder. Not just one, but two dead bodies as a result of their manic, enabling relationship and erratic, reckless behavior. Think Brokendown Palace meets Single White Female! The wild ride we are on with these two, showcases the codependent, obsessive nature of their friendship and the lengths they go to protect each other, until Emily starts having doubts about Kristen and what really happened in Cambodia and Chile. Emily's further investigation into Kristen's past shows a puzzling trail of mysterious deaths beginning with her parents fiery death and childhood best friend's suicide. On the other hand Kristen is trying to show Emily that everything she thought she knew is backwards. I went back and forth debating on which of these women is telling the truth and was floored by the final line! If you are a lover of thrillers and psychological suspense, add this to your shelves immediately! Best read with a glass of Chilean red wine ;) August 2021 release!
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A great reding thriller. Emily and Kristen have an annual reunion trip, this time to the mountains of Chile.
On the last night  Kristen claims a cute guy attacked her and in self defense, she had to kill him. Seems his has happened on the last trip also. And now Kristen won’t leave her alone. This drama can either make Emily a victim or who knows. I enjoyed reading this and am thankful to have hada chance to review this story.
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✨ The Title/Cover Draw:
I had read a book of Andrea’s last year, The Herd, and thought it was unique so this one seemed like another one I should read. Thank you to Netgalley and Ballantine books for the opportunity to read this book ahead of publishing.

💜 What I liked:
There is an element of unknowing what the true viewpoint is in this book. While we do read from Emily’s point of view, there is a lot that Kristen affects. To discover the truth through Emily’s eyes is quite a ride.

😱 What I didn’t like:
The story could be tightened up a little more. Even though this is an extremely fast read, there were time I grew bored with Emily’s ruminations.

💁‍♀️ The Characters:
Emily and Kristen are backpacking through Chile when a traumatic occurrence happens.

🚦 My face at the end: 😵

💭 3 Reasons to Read:
Travel to other countries
Unreliable narrator (in a sense).
A journey of truth

🕧 Mini-Summary:
Emily and Kristen travel each summer, but traumatic occurrences follow them.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Received from Netgalley.
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4.5 star 

🎶 Vacation all I ever wanted! Vacation with a touch of MURDER 🎶 
This is the first book that I’ve read by Andrea Bartz, and I’m sad I’ve never read anything else by her. We Were Never Here really grabbed my attention at chapter 3 which set this whole book up for me. The twists and turns with every chapter left me  guessing as to what was going to happen next. The manipulation and the gaslighting that came from these characters blew my mind. Now while I kept guessing throughout the book as to what was going to happen and what certain people did, I ended up being wrong, which if I’m being honest, i actually enjoy. I do not like being right when it comes to books because it takes away from the enjoyment of it. This is definitely a book I can see reading again in the future and definitely can’t wait to get my hands on the physical finished copy when its released.
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I'm a little mixed about this one. The story was a little slow in the beginning. It actually didn't pick up until the last 1/3 of the book maybe? When it did pick up, I really started to enjoy it a lot and couldn't read fast enough. There were a few twists that seemed a bit forced and the ending was a bit confusing. Overall though, it was a good story with strong, well developed characters.
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Emily and her best friend Kristen travel together yearly. But there are rules, including no pictures. If that doesn't sound odd, then you're in for a treat because things get worse. Especially because on their current trip in Chile, things go horribly awry. We watch the story unfold as Emily learns to cope with the stress of everything barreling in on her.

I have such conflicting feelings about this that it makes this a difficult review to write. Emily is obsessed with Kristen. I can't count the number of times she reiterated that Kristen is her best friend, the one who knew her best in the world. Even her therapist points out how much time they spend talking about Kristen. Emily also claims she's moved on from things past, but Sebastian is another one that she obsesses over. 

Everything in this story can tie into Kristen or Sebastian because of how obsessed she is. Emily is an incredibly unlikable character because of this. Her lack of backbone is just another sprinkle on this confetti mess of a character. She has no boundaries, which actually isn't that uncommon in people, unfortunately. It doesn't help that Kristen is constantly gaslighting her. If she wasn't so obsessive, I might feel bad for her.

I read another review that pointed out how bland Aaron is, and the more I think about it, yes, he isn't all that multi-dimensional. But he works for Emily because she's such a hot mess. It also works to keep the best friends at the forefront of the story. I want to say something about Nana's decision towards the end of the book, but I can't because I don't want to spoil things. It just doesn't fit, and it leaves plot points that go unanswered, which makes all the text surrounding her essentially pointless.  

I wanted to really love this one because I can deal with unlikeable characters, especially if the storyline surrounding them is good. But the amount of time spent obsessing feels like filler, and then add in the other issues I had, and I'm just not in love with this one. I encourage other reviewers to give this a chance because what might not work for me might work for others.  Thank you, Random House/Ballantine Books, for sending this along.
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