Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published: May 6th 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 449

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list. 

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping?
"I closed my eyes only to open them once more, and make sure it was all still there - the riot of stars above me, this whole other world existing just out of reach."
 Stop whatever you are doing. Drop it, because I have to convince you to read Since You've Been Gone. This book is wonderful. It met all my expectations and surprised me above it all. Despite some events further on in the book, I can guarantee that this is an ultimate happy pill.

I cannot bring myself to believe how much I adored the plot. Despite the involvement of a list with things to do, it never felt like she was just doing things to eventually cross them off. From the beginning already, there's a nice flow which continues throughout the book. With every task she completes, Emily is pushed out of her comfort zone, bit by bit. The tasks on the list itself were nothing like you would find on a regular bucket list. I was so intrigued to learn about some of the backstories behind certain tasks. There was no way that a list of Sloane would just contain tasks which made no sense. I loved how the crossing off the list went. There are times when a task is more difficult than expected, and therefore always adds a nice twist to the story.

Emily is a protagonist close to my heart. She's the typical flawed teenager, and because of that, incredibly relatable. She's completely normal, yet she definitely has a unique touch that makes her so wonderful. She makes smart and realistic choices, even though they don't seem great at times. Everything she does is never out of character, and I love her for that. She developed so much during the book it's almost impossible at the end of the book to compare her to the girl she was before. I didn't think this would be a coming-of-age story, but it is, and a beautiful one too.

When it comes to the relatability of Emily's character, it surprised me in more ways than I imagined. Not only her personality, but also her friendship with Sloane has something to do with it. I practically recognized their friendship, since I have a similar one. That friendship one has with the prettier and more popular girl, the girl you almost look up to and admires her spontaneous behavior. The friendship where you're known as the friend of that girl. Usually this is the type of relationships that doesn't have a great impact on the other girl, and causes side effects. That automatically brings me to another thing I loved so much about Since You've Been Gone: the fact that the book managed to portray it in the way I know it. She brings out the best in you. She's always up for an adventure to remember, and therefore creates a friendship you won't let go of.

Writing my thoughts down about Sloane made me wonder if I actually liked her character in the story. At first I would have compared it to a love-hate relationship. Because she is the popular girl with the blonde hair and perfect skin, she came across as a Mary Sue in the first flashbacks. It wasn't until more flashbacks made their appearance and I saw her character develop, I was beginning to have my doubts. In the end everything was cleared up for me. Turns out the Mary Sue is just a normal girl with her everyday problems and flaws. Matson managed to never leave me unsurprised, that's for sure.

It's rare occasion when all the characters in a book are nothing but lovable. Because of Sloane's sudden disappearance, Emily bonds throughout the book with some very fantastic characters. To start off with Collins, there's nothing bad to be said about the guy. He acts the way his environment wants him to, or at least what he thinks is expected of him. All the way through it's obvious that the imagine he holds is nothing but just an image, and that there's something more beyond. It's not always clear, but he also goes through changes which become visible at the end. He was a wonderful character who made me smile and laugh from beginning to end, and always brings along a happy atmosphere. Moving onto Dawn, I was immediately intrigued when she made her first appearance. From that moment on, it was pretty clear that she would be there for Emily. Not only to cross off the list, but also as a friend. One she really needed at that time. Even though both Collins and Dawn were just side characters, they won't be forgotten very easily.

Oh, the romance. If I had to describe it in three words, I'm one hundred percent sure those would be to swoon for. It was everything I would have wished for. While it actually is a forbidden romance due a certain girlfriend, I couldn't help but ship Emily and Frank. They are adorable together. Not only Emily, but also I was one who fell hard for Frank Porter. As adorable and awkward as he is, he always managed to put a grin on my face. From the beginning he volunteers to help Emily with her list. You see their friendship growing, and eventually resulting into something more, bringing along a lot of drama, guilt and tears. The chemistry between the two was undeniable, even though both of them are too shy to see it at first.

Thumbs up for a young-adult novel where the parents are actually involved in the life of the main character. Not a sign of parents who are either depressed, dead or normal but barely talk to their children. The fact that her parents were known play writers was the cherry on top. I loved their influence on the story, which led to a certain scene where I found myself laughing, grinning and swooning like an idiot.

In a well ordered universe, I would have ready to leave these wonderful characters behind. I'm not ready. I'm craving for a sequel, even if it's just a novella. I want to know what happens after the somewhat happy end. I want to learn about possible future adventures. Just the combination of a simple but highly-entertaining plot, characters you'll get to love and a romance you'll soon enough find yourself rooting for creates an outstanding and perfect summer novel.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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