Book Review: We Were Restless Things

Received this e-book free from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review! All opinions expressed herein are my own unbiased impressions.

Link Miller drowned in a forest, miles from any body of water. Only Noemi Amato knows the truth – that he was murdered. Link is texting Noemi from beyond the grave, warning her to stay away from the woods.

Jonas is sent to his father’s house after causing trouble at his old school, where he moves in with Noemi at the Lamplight Inn. Amberlynn Miller is Link’s sister. The three of them, along with friends Lyle and Gaetan, must find out how Link died and make sure it doesn’t happen again…

I’ll be honest; I struggled to get through We Were Restless Things. I almost DNF’ed it several times and only didn’t because I wanted to write a review. I love, love a slow-paced story of close-knit, found family friends – a la The Secret History or The Raven Boys – but a plot still needs to coalesce at some point…

Things I loved about this book: the title, the gorgeous cover art by Sasha Vinogradova, some of the characters, the LGBTQIA representation and the Lamplight Inn. And that’s where my love runs out…

Things I disliked: there was no tension or stakes…and really no plot at all. The characters were all passive, with the possible the exception of Noemi. In all, We Were Restless Things felt more like a character exploration piece than a fully-realized book. Which is great, but not worth reading 250 pages great.

The book is told in three alternating points of view – Jonas, Noemi and Amberlynn, but really could have benefitted from a single point-of-view. Noemi was by far the strongest character and all the characters revolved around her. In fact, every single male character in the book was in love with Noemi. Jonas, Gaetan, Link and the antagonist all at one point express their love or desire for Noemi, who as an asexual is uninterested in any of them, though she and Jonas have…something.

Jonas and Amberlynn were both passive characters, who I never really connected to. Jonas was alternately described a bad boy, a victim of bullying and a quiet, thoughtful boy, but he mostly felt like a blank slate. Amberlynn has a romance with another girl, Lyle, but the relationship is really glazed over and I have no idea how they really felt for each other. Nor was Amberlynn’s grief for her dead brother ever particularly palpable.

There was a weak antagonist who is not really explained until the last ten percent of the book and despite being responsible for Link’s death, never really seems scary or threatening.

Everything was sort of…vague…and grey. Amaphorous connections, guazy, barely-there villain, flat characters and too many points-of-view.

I’m not sure I would recommend this book to anyone, but this is Cole Nagamatsu’s debut book and I think if she gets a handle on plotting, I’d be willing to try another book by her as the characters were quirky.

We Were Restless Things will be available for purchase on October 6th, 2020.

Have any of you read this book? What makes you DNF (Did-Not-Finish) a book?

Until next time,

3 thoughts on “Book Review: We Were Restless Things

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