Title: Even if We Break
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 32
(see below for breakdown)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.
FIVE friends go to a cabin. FOUR of them are hiding secrets. THREE years of history bind them. TWO are doomed from the start. ONE person wants to end this. NO ONE IS SAFE.
Are you ready to play?
I will admit this was a bit of a mixed bag for me. It was a quick and enjoyable read that had a little bit of creep factor, and a tonne of representation. However the more and more I think about it the more cracks appear and it was just lacking something to make it special. For a thriller/horror it was extremely character driven. While, that was excellent and really put us in the minds of well constructed characters ( I cannot speak as to how representative they were) that felt real and had depth to them, it removed a lot of the atmosphere and tension.
I also feel we missed a lot of the backstory and never had a chance to get invested in the history between all these characters. I wanted more world building more set up of the game and their friendships. While we got snippets of how they came to be and how they fell apart it just seemed lacking in the emotional investment. Most of the emotion went on small inner turmoil’s which again removed us from the bigger picture.
When we did get into the atmosphere of it all it was creepy and I loved those moments but they seemed rather few and far between. The twists were great and I really do like how the mystery played out. Even if I do feel we didn’t get enough to fully understand or invest in the outcomes. Most disappointing is the RPG they were all playing was heavily emphasised but didn’t really play much of a role other than to get them up the hill in the first place. There were glimmers that the creepiness would link back to the game but they fizzled out pretty quickly.
The ending again left me with mixed feelings, the twists were great but for me I would have liked a stronger resolution. I am really interested in how own voices find the representation. It is a very eclectic mix with trans, non-binary, disabled, neurodiversity rep, brief mention of bisexual characters and difference in social class (which is heavily emphasised) all jam packed in to just five characters. At times it seemed to be a little contrived, particularly the bisexuality rep, but as I can’t speak to the other representation I can’t comment on how well this was done.
I still enjoyed reading this it just didn’t tick all the boxes and I have read better constructed YA mysteries.