BOOK CLUB: We Were Never Here

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“We Were Never Here” by Andrea Bartz is an involving domestic thriller; there are not too many surprises for anyone who reads a lot in the genre, but a tight plot and taut pacing makes it hard to put down.

Kristen and Emily have been best friends since college. Both had solitary upbringings, and they became uncommonly close at college. They’re now on the brink of their 30s, and still best friends.

But Kristen has moved to Australia for work, leaving Emily in the US. And Emily is starting to think that Kristen’s friendship isn’t enough for her; she wants a romantic relationship, marriage, kids.

The two women meet up in Chile for an off-the-grid holiday. It’s not the first time; they’ve had more than one adventurous holiday together. Towards the end, this one goes horribly awry. Kristen is attacked by a backpacker and has no choice but to kill him. They must cover up the murder to save themselves. After all, he was a bad guy, wasn’t he?

Remember watching movies with your hands over your eyes because they’re scary, but peeping through your fingers because you just have to know what happens? “We Were Never Here” provokes exactly the same feeling.

You know something awful is coming, you have a pretty good idea where it’s coming from, but you can’t step away until you know exactly what the awful thing is. This sense of suspense makes it hard to stop reading, even though the broad strokes of the story are pretty obvious.

A lot of the suspense is dependent on how much we believe Emily and her perception of events. She’s a strongly drawn character; most readers will empathise with her quickly. She’s likeable despite doing some horrific things. We’re inclined to believe her, and increasingly we react to Kristen just as she does.

Kristen too is a credible character. Her behaviour rings true – whatever you think her motivations are. These two characterisations are at the heart of the novel. They’re a believable portrait of female friendship. The gradual breakdown of the relationship is portrayed well, too; it’s credible, even in the context of a pretty unusual catalyst (murder).

Although I’ve described this as a domestic thriller – and it is – this is also a novel about relationships. What binds people together, what breaks them apart; how central trust is to any relationship. This is done extremely well and helps make the novel compelling, even though the broad plot is pretty obvious.

I really enjoyed this novel. The characterisations are strong and the relationships are well-drawn. Emily’s dilemma is believable and well depicted. It’s well-plotted and the pacing is excellent. I wasn’t surprised by much that happened, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this well-written novel.

Author: Andrea Bartz
ISBN: 978-0-241-55765-5
Copy courtesy of Penguin Fiction (2021)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: We Were Never Here

  1. We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz was one addictive read that was well-paced, atmospheric, tense and hard to put down. I don’t want to go into the story too much to avoid giving out spoilers, just know you’ll fly through this book!

    While I had a strong idea of where the story was headed, this didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment. I thought that there was a great buildup and the first 90% was quite strong, though the ending was a little rushed. Despite this, We Were Never Here kept me highly entertained and I’ll definitely be reading more of Andrea Bartz in future.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Books Australia for providing a complimentary copy for review.

  2. Thank you to Beauty and Lace Club and Penguin Australia for my copy.

    I went into this book without any expectations of the author as I’ve haven’t read any of her books. I did have some expectations as it has a Reese’s Book club sticker on the cover.

    I had mixed feelings from this book and it left me sitting on the fence as to what star rating to give it and my overall impression. Sadly quite predictable and I had pretty much worked it out around a third of the way through. This book has some genuinely tense nail biting moments, especially a particular moment on the girl’s holiday in Chile. Most of the book is pacy and edgy and there were some little surprises which did make me start think I may have misjudged one of the characters.
    Mostly it’s a book about a dysfunctional and toxic friendship with plenty of lies, gaslighting and stalking. It was interesting seeing the friendship start to unravel once one of the girls started to stand up for herself.
    I’m deliberately not mentioning either of the character’s names when talking about them so as to not ruin it for others. The ending was a bit confusing and for me left me wondering what it meant.
    3 ⭐⭐⭐

  3. I have been waiting for this book to hit the shelves since seeing it as part of Reece’s Book Club with such high praise. So naturally I jumped at the chance to review!

    It was such a good and easy book to read. It had plenty of twists, enough to keep you reading until late in the night. At times yes, you knew what was coming, but it was the end for me that had me rethinking the whole book! Was it really the way it seemed??

    Definitely recommend this book and looking forward to reading more from Andrea Bartz.

    Big thanks to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Books Australia for the chance to read and review this great read!

  4. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this brilliant book. It had so many twists and turns that kept me guessing and hooked the whole way through. One of the best thrillers I have read. I loved it.

  5. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read & review ‘We were never here’ a book by Andrea Bartz.
    Two friends Kristen & Emily have a long history of friendship behind them, being best friends since college. Going on a holiday to Chile together the girls have to pull together to cover-up a crime that really wasn’t their fault, or was it?
    This is a fast-paced thriller book that deals with friendship in its best but also worst forms, trust is broken and the need to find out what would finally happen in the turbulent world the girls had created kept me intrigued to the end. However, the ending did raise more questions and had me re-thinking many of the ideas I had previously made.
    I enjoyed this thriller and am so glad that I do not have a ‘Kristen or Emily’ as a friend of mine. Thank-you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for the opportunity to read ‘‘We were never here’ a domestic, suspense thriller by Andrea Bartz.

  6. I had this book on my list for awhile – it didnt dissapoint- Based around tragic events that occur within a seemingly happy and loving friendship- that as the story deepens, we learn is really a toxic friendship filled with lies. I thought it was well written, the story flowed well with some twists throughout. Its hard to say to much without giving it away, however the ending definetly done what the author intended, making the readers stop and think “hang on, did this play out the way we thought”.
    If you like a domestic thriller- definetly pick this one up

  7. I love thrillers and I was very keen to read this book, and did enjoy it. The main character is very likable, and I felt quite relatable. The start of the book confused me a little due to how it fitted with the blurb, but I can’t say more without giving anything away. Some parts of the book were predictable but I think enough was not that it is an enjoyable read, and some bits left me questioning if I had it all wrong. It was easy to read and to follow the story, with plenty of character and story development. There is a big focus on the friendship between Kristen and Emily, and its dysfunctional nature. The very end left me a little confused and I’m not sure I really understood what it means…

  8. We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz, was a little predictable and not really my taste but for an easy to follow story this is a good read and it was an enjoyable book still and I’d definitely read more books by Andrea Bartz

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