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Last Seen Leaving Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This thriller follows Flynn as he tries to solve the mystery of his missing girlfriend, January. The more he discovers, the more confused he is as he uncovers the secrets she has been keeping from him. January had been distant ever since her mother remarried and moved her into her politician stepdad's fancy house and switched her to private school. Though the couple tried to stay together through the changes, Flynn's own secret was a source of strife, and January broke up with him after a fight right before her disappearance. That she's no longer his girlfriend doesn't stop Flynn from caring about her, and he doesn't give up looking for answers. His search for January leads to his own revelation as he is forced by circumstances to come out to his parents and friends. Learning the truth about January leads Flynn and his new friend Kaz into danger and intrigue as they find themselves falling for each other and solving the mystery. The characters are believable, the mystery is interesting, and the action is often fast-paced. Flynn's internal struggle to open up about his sexuality carries weight, and readers will be drawn into his emotional journey and his adventures in amateur sleuthing. VERDICT A fun mystery with a credible emotional pull; a general purchase for most YA collections.—Genevieve Feldman, San Francisco Public Library
A 2018 ALA Rainbow List Selection ?
A Buzzfeed Best YA Novel of 2016
Best YA Novel of 2016 - Paste Magazine
A Kirkus Best of 2016 Book - Teen
"Flynn Doherty's competing desires to uncover the secrets behind his ex-girlfriend's disappearance and keep his own secrets hidden propel debut author Roehrig's powerful thriller. ...A compelling mystery and characters with fully developed strengths and flaws make Roehrig's novel an important addition in the world of queer young adult fiction.--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Debut novelist Roehrig peoples his sensationalistic, twisty mystery with credible characters, especially narrator Flynn, whose struggles with coming out will resonate with young gay teens in more mundane circumstances. Witty, realistically foulmouthed dialogue and the suspenseful, well-laid mystery will keep pages turning... Readers won't be able to put it down."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This truly hair-raising, stand-out mystery thriller from debut author Roehrig will keep readers guessing, even until the end."--Booklist, starred review
"The characters are believable, the mystery is interesting, and the action is often fast-paced. Flynn’s internal struggle to open up about his sexuality carries weight, and readers will be drawn into his emotional journey and his adventures in amateur sleuthing...A fun mystery with a credible emotional pull." -- School Library Journal
Top customer reviews
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This book, as stated in the synopsis, is about Flynn’s girlfriend January having vanished and the mystery surrounding her disappearance. It’s a mystery that Flynn is desperate to solve and the reader is whisked away on this dark and twisted journey with him. As he begins to uncover secrets that January kept hidden he is forced to face his own secret alongside those revelations. Last Seen Leaving is Flynn’s own personal journey as well – his journey of acknowledging who he really is and learning to accept and embrace it. In a nutshell, while the reader is gripped in the claws of this haunting tale they also get to see the transformation Flynn goes through in terms of his sexuality (which is made pretty obvious straight away). That journey of self-discovery brings with it an unexpected romance that I won’t go into detail about but it was incredible and I loved it.
Caleb Roehrig wove so many different layers and stories into this book and it was enchanting and incredibly well done. Combine that with his writing that was practically spellbinding and you have a book that is impossible to put down.
I feel like this was equal parts character driven and plot driven. There is a cast of very colorful characters in this book – some are horrible and you’ll hate them and some you’ll adore or end up adoring. I won’t go into detail about the characters because to do so would spoil everything.
I will say that I, obviously, adored Flynn and his journey. He was a funny, sarcastic, and charming character who, despite everything, is probably the person who cared for January the most and would do anything if it meant she was found and safe.
January was so complex and at times I wasn’t sure how I felt about her but ultimately I ended up respecting her more than any of the other characters.
And don’t even get me started on Kaz! I won’t give away anything but he was my favorite and I loved him.
This is one of those times where I will be as vague as possible in a review because I went into this book blind and I believe it’s better if you do that. I wouldn’t have had such a strong reaction nor would I have been as riveted if I would have known any specifics that were not already common knowledge beforehand.
However, I do want to point out that this book is a dark book. It does have light moments but at its core, Last Seen Leaving has a very realistic and scary vibe to it. The topic of rape is broached, there is violence, gruesome scenes, and a lot of bad things happen. The reason I’m pointing that out is because I know there are people that might not want to be blindsided by certain things in a book.
That aside, Last Seen Leaving will sink its claws into you and not let go until you turn the final page. There are so many twists that leave you guessing and a shocker of an ending that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
Another auto-buy author for me as I definitely can’t wait to see what Caleb Roehrig has in store for us with his future books.
Quibble one: this kid's vocabulary surpasses even the brightest 15-year-olds I've met. I found it unbelievable, and that kept popping me out of the story, which is annoying. Particularly when an unusual word's immediately followed by a cliche phrase. Flynn didn't need to have the vocabulary of an English Lit degree grad, it was the one false note of his character.
Quibble two, and this one's personal: I really hate flashbacks at critical points in a suspense narrative. The author uses them way too often for my taste. As a result, much as I enjoyed this book, I'm unlikely to read another suspense by him.
And the technical issue. There is an injury that would make the last goodbye transport much harder than is portrayed. You'll know it when you read it. I'm not sure how else Flynn could've been alone for that, but it isn't my job to figure it out, it was the author's.
Despite those things, if you love suspense stories, I recommend this one.