Review by: Ivy
“What’s the point of singing if you’re not using your voice to move mountains?”
Pheus is the bachata-crooning star of the Bronx who falls head over heels for Eury, a mysterious Puerto Rican newcomer recovering from losing her home in Hurricane Maria. These characters were the keys to Never Look Back, making a heavily worn myth feel new again in a way few retellings can. Their histories and secrets made for a deliciously sweet and melancholy relationship that – well, I won’t spoil the ending.
Rivera’s gentle weaving in of magical realism was something I don’t remember seeing in a YA novel before. While it was a surprise, I loved every second, as the myth and magic lead to the best parts of the novel. The rich melding of cultures made an Underworld that felt modern and palpable. However, the separation of mental illness and the demons that plagued the couple was very welcome, since it allowed the novel to have a conversation about reality as well.
“…the myth and magic lead to the best parts of the novel. The rich melding of cultures made an Underworld that felt modern and palpable.”
In total, Never Look Back is a perfectly fresh take on a tale centuries old that balances tugging at your heartstrings while instilling hope. Rivera was already one of my favorite authors, and her writing improves with every book. You’ll fall in love with Eury and Pheus as they fall in love with each other, and enjoy each nugget of vulnerable, poetic writing along the way.
Rating: five Spanish covers of Prince songs/five
For fans of: Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry, Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez, Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro