Books & Literature

Book Review: We Were Never Here, by Andrea Bartz

THRILLER: Your best friend killed a man. Now she needs your help. But can you really trust her motives? Her Last Holiday meets Thelma and Louise.

A high-stakes roller coaster that encourages reflection on women’s safety

You’re on a trip abroad with your best friend. You walk into the hotel room to find that she’s just killed a man. She claims he assaulted her and asks you to help her hide the body, or watch her rot in a Chilean prison. What do you do?

This is the exact predicament in which protagonist Emily finds herself in the gripping new thriller by The Herd author Andrea Bartz. After Emily makes her choice, she begins to wonder whether it was the right one, and how well she really knows her best friend Kristen. The story that follows is a roller coaster of twists, turns, and thought-provoking exploration into the danger that women face just for being women.

We Were Never Here gets off to a roaring start with two life-changing events taking place at the beginning and before the story takes place. This ensures that the stakes are high, and the author’s creative use of imagery sets the scene wonderfully.

In the wake of blockbusters like Gone Girl, thrillers run the risk of adopting a predictable storyline, which ultimately takes the fun out of them. But We Were Never Here keeps you wondering throughout as to what’s going to happen next. Kristen and her motivations are hard to figure out and picking up the clues that reveal the truth about her background is one of the best parts of the novel.

The character of Emily rouses empathy, guiding the reader to wonder what they would do if they were in her position. She’s not the most active protagonist, and spends a lot of time reflecting about her inner and outer worlds, which sometimes slows the pace right down. But in some scenes, the story is so gripping that you can’t help but power on through infinite chapters. 

Along with the central plot, there’s a lot of interesting discussion around female safety, particularly when travelling. As a female reader, I could absolutely empathise with Emily and her frustrations about constantly having to be on high alert, and not enjoying the same freedoms as men out of fear and self-protection. 

Overall, We Were Never Here is a crazy ride of a novel that could surprise you, may inspire some deep thinking, and will undoubtedly entertain. It also seems like it would translate quite well to the screen. It comes as no surprise that Reese Witherspoon has already pinned this book as one of her new favourites!

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

Distributed by: Penguin Books
Released: 12 August 2021
RRP: $32.99

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