I’m one of those people who was obsessed with Greek myths in university. That being said, I’ll read EVERY YA re-telling because it combines my two passions! All I needed to know about Never Look Back was that it was an
Orpheus and Eurydice retelling which is one of my faves. It was a match made in heaven! Keep reading this book review to find out how much I fell in love!
Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .
Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: sexual assault, panic attacks, anxiety, depression
Re-telling a Greek myth, filled with pain, yearning, and tragic mistakes is a optimistic endeavor. But Rivera truly succeeds in Never Look Back by presenting a contemporary fantastical re-telling of one of my favorite myths. To begin, I have to just gush about how clever this re-telling was. It was a true pleasure to see it unravel on the screen, the way Pheus’ music is interwoven in the story, Eury’s relationship with Ato, and their strong, but fragile, relationship in the balance. It retains the balance of the original, while adding its own unique twists, and bringing it to a YA audience.
Never Look Back is a dual POV story that examines not only toxic relationships, but the power and courage that love can give us. Both Eury and Pheus are allowed to be flawed, passionate, and innocent. It captivates the strong emotions from the original, of a love that tethers us. At the same time, Never Look Back discusses the differences between love an possession. Examining toxic relationships, Never Look Back explores bonds we cannot escape from, the cycle of emotional abuse, and faith.
Never Look Back succeeds by focusing on flawed, but extremely relatable characters, featuring a fast paced plot and a clever integration of the original. What more is love than the search of a person who can help grounds us and with whom we can weather the storm together? It’s a story about finding strength, in real and fantastical worlds, in faith and love.