book reviews

Never Look Back: A Really Unique and powerful retelling

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Rating: 4/5

Publication Date: September 15th, 2020

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.


I received this e-ARC from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my thoughts which are my own and unbiased.

I’ve never read a retelling of one of my favorite heartbreaking Greek myths so I was so excited to be able to read this! I just think it was so interesting to create this whole unique story revolving around this story. I was seriously blown away by how all the elements of the Greek tale were incorporated into this more modern version!

Trigger warnings for anxiety, depression, toxic relationships and sexual assault

I’m not an ownvoices character so I can’t speak on the rep, but I did find the incorporation of the different cultures really beautiful! It was unapologetic in the fact that Spanish words were used without explanation (though I gathered enough to understand with context of course) and it was just really great to see!

I really loved that both characters had a romance but were also very well developed separately and had arcs of their own. I loved the connection between the two characters and the music that they shared! The way that they interacted and had flaws and were just really rich characters made me extremely happy as a reader.

This book was incredibly beautiful and powerful especially when approaching the topics of identity and mental health. There was a little bit of a discussion about how people tell those with mental health issues to just pray and hope it goes away and it’s not something that can just be cured with prayer alone and I think that was just really awesome to see in a book (I’ve had that told to me a few times and I’m just really glad it was brought up in this book).

Honestly the only reason I rated this 4 stars is because I really really wanted it to be a bit darker (especially closer to the end) and while I loved the way the story progressed, there just seemed to be something missing that I can’t really talk about without spoiling. That being said, the overall experience of the book was amazing and I would definitely recommend it!

I would recommend this to fans of greek mythology and Hadestown, those looking for Afro-Latinx and mental health representation, and a unique take on a famous story. If you like the power of music and love, a beautiful journey of self discovery and cultural identity in the midst of tragedy, this is for you!

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