You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao – Book Review

Title: You’ve Reached Sam (eARC)

Author: Dustin Thao

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Blurb from Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

My Review

I love reading sad stories. Getting lost in the emotions of the book is somewhat of a catharsis for me. A way to work through anything I may have been feeling. So when I read the blurb for You’ve Reached Sam I knew I had to read it. A love story for the ages of a boy who dies tragically young and the girl who’s left behind… but somehow their love can reach across time and space and they are still connected… sounds beautiful.

Reader it was not beautiful.

Instead it was entirely dull.

I’m so frustrated and disappointed. This book had no emotion, no heart. I expected to bawl my eyes out. Cry bucket loads!!! I’m SUCH a book crier. Heck I cry at adverts on television …especially Christmas ones. They get me every time!

But with this book I shed the grand total of zero tears.

ZERO! HOW CAN THAT BE??.?

The concept of this book is so brilliant but it utterly lacked the romance I was expecting. I thought this would be a sort of YA version of the film Ghost …you know minus the whole murder aspect and no Whoopi Goldberg who btw is the absolute BEST thing about the film Ghost. Definitely steals every scene she’s in…

But I digress!

There was no romance. None. There was a lot of telling us that main character Julie and dead boyfriend Sam loved each other but it felt more like exposition rather than a highly emotive and engaging narrative.

Which I could have gotten over because instead the author instead chose to make this a book that explored the all encompassing nature of grief which Julie was experiencing. And that’s a fabulous idea because ughhh… grief. It’s awful when we go through it. And no two people ever experience it the same way so focusing on the smothering nature of Julie’s grief could’ve been brilliant…

Except it wasn’t.

I don’t know how the author managed it but instead of feeling empathy I felt apathy. I didn’t believe in the true love aspect of Julie and Sam’s romance, which therefore meant her grief felt hollow. And I don’t quite understand why that is. Things weren’t helped by the complete lack of character development for every single character in the book.

Including Julie.

She was a writer but I never felt her passion for it. She had a challenging family background re her parents’ separation but her feelings were so closed off about that. And I could list off a bunch of other similar supposed character traits but all of them just fell flat. I guess the author wanted to illustrate the state of shock and numbness that we can experience when going through the earliest stages of grief… but sadly that doesn’t make for an emotionally engaging novel.

And as for Sam? Complete manic pixie dream ghost. We only got a sliver of his personality at the very end of the novel when it was too little too late.

But one of the things that truly irked me about the book were the actual phone calls to Sam. I liked how they were just between Sam and Julie but on two instances she let someone else speak to him and I was like what the what now? I thought the reason they could speak was because of their deep emotional connection so having these other people be able to have the bants with Sam really cheapened the love story for me.

ALSO! Why was she able to suddenly get Oliver’s texts but no one else’s? That made no sense to me. Because allegedly while Julie was connected to Sam through her phone she was unable to receive any other texts and calls. There are a number of examples of when her mum was trying to contact her, her friend etc etc. If you’ve read the book can you tell me if I missed the explanation as to why his phone texts were able to get through to Julie’s phone.

And another thing. The whole Taylor blaming Julie for Sam’s death was a whole heck no. It felt like yet another girls being pitted against each other for the sake of mindless melodrama that happens faaaaar too much in YA.

Sadly this book was one crushing disappointment after another. Such a shame when it promised so much.

*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*

  • Publication Date: 9th November 2021
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

My Socials

8 thoughts on “You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao – Book Review

  1. Oh, no! I’m sorry this book ended up being a huge disappointment for you, Emer. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it was published but I don’t think I’ll pick it up anytime soon. 😛

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  2. Emotional reads so have the potential to be unforgettable books. It is such a shame to hear it was a disappointment!! where are the emotions?!?! Also, it sounded unique in both the exploration of grief and the relationship between Sam and Julie. ahh.. what could have been. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 💕

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  3. Oh no, the more I see reviews saying this was less-than-stellar and just mediocre, the more disappointed I get because it sounded like it had such promise! I’m very much an emotional reader too so I would’ve expected (maybe even looked forward to) shed all the tears while reading this so it’s such a bummer that you didn’t even feel any emotion! This sounds pretty underwhelming overall. Great review though, Éimhear!

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