Very fittingly, this review is going up on a D&D day! Even If We Break is a locked-house thriller set around an RPG weekend in which a group of teenagers try to salvage their friendship… or do they? Featuring amazing queer and disability rep, as well as my favourite thing, RPGs, Marieke Nijkamp has managed to craft a unique contribution to the YA canon that will make a lot of young people feel seen!
Thank you to Midas PR, Amber Choudhary and Sourcebooks Fire for including me in this blog tour and sending me an ARC of Even If We Break! I highly recommend you also head over and check out some of the posts of my wonderful co-hosts.
RELEASE DATE: 15/09/20
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.
For five friends, this was supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways—a chance to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past three years. But they’re all dealing with their own demons, and they’re all hiding secrets.
Finn doesn’t trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.
When the lines between game and reality start to blend with deadly consequences, it’s a race against time before it’s game over—forever.
Are you ready to play? (from Sourcebooks Fire)
OPINIONS: Please please, dear authors, write more books featuring nerd-catnip like RPGs! I absolutely devoured Even If We Break over the span of a few hours last week and I think this unique twist was my favourite part about it. On top of that, the book featured a very diverse cast of protagonists in terms of gender and disability, and addressed a host of issues faced by young people growing up in today’s society.
As the author themselves is gender non-conforming, autistic and has EDS, all represented in the book, these portrayals are well-crafted and nuanced rather than being there merely for show or harmful. Finn is a trans boy with EDS (not explicit on the page but confirmed by Marieke on Twitter), Maddy is autistic, and Ever is non-binary. While the group is ethnically not as diverse, they actually poke fun at that fact themselves in the story. (Prescription) drug abuse and social class are further issues addressed in Even If We Break, making it a multi-layered story past the surface plot.
And that is where the book’s great value lies in my opinion. There are amazingly crafted characters with aims, dreams and elaborate backstories that only shimmer through in the book itself. There is a world behind the story that will help many teens feel seen, and that is incredible. For me, that more than makes up for the fact that the mystery itself in Even If We Break was quite transparent, and I figured out what was going on relatively early on. Nevertheless, the story was well-written, and the inclusion of the RPG cleverly done.