Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson

January 3, 2015 3 stars, Book Review 20 ★★★

Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. JohanssonCut Me Free by J.R. Johansson
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on January 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.


I don’t even know really what to say about Cut Me Free. I wanted a deep emotional dark and disturbing read about a young voice who grew up in isolation and abuse, like maybe Room or A Stolen Life…but I should have known that because this is a YA, it’s basically a love story in a nutshell. *Cue big sigh* WHHHHHHHHY?!

Piper is a young woman who escaped the house she was imprisoned and abused in BY HER OWN PARENTS. There are some sick people in the world. Her baby brother died and didn’t make the trip (you find out in the first chapter and it hints in the blurb, so it’s not really a spoiler). Anyway she finds her own place and changes her identity with the help of a 17-year-old guy named Cam, so that she can start her life over.

Yes, they’re both 17. Apparently, she took some hidden money in her parents house before she ran away. I was skeptical at first, but there are some things you find out later on that make this story and even Cam’s connections plausible. Not enough for me personally, but some people can probably overlook it.

Anyway, she saves Sandra (a cute little 9-year-old) from the clutches of an awful man who bought her through human trafficking. Piper takes care of her until a series of notes, warnings, and threats keep popping up wherever she goes. OH NOES, I feel a stalker amongst the midst! And things get real during the last 50 pages.

Now the rest of it is really stupid slow.

Yeah, we see her trust issues and strike relationships and get a job and…what else happens? Who really cares? I don’t. You know why I don’t? Because I have no sympathy for her. Stop looking at me like I’m a heartless witch. Listen…there was NO DETAILS on her abuse. NO DETAILS on her relationship with her parents. NO CONVERSATIONS. NO EVENTS. NADA!! The writing and her personality distances you from her as the reader. That could definitely be done on purpose and I was fine with that up until I realized that this isn’t about her past at all.

It’s about her future. With some boy. It’s about her trusting him enough to tell him what happened. It’s about some evil bad guy that has nothing to do with her, but another girl she’s trying to protect.

What could have helped this story was the dialogue!! Oh my goodness, the dialogue and relationship growth was all over the dang place. One minute they just met, the next minute they’re best friends. It goes from anger to sympathy to love to…anything else in one or two pages. It’s like this book is PMSing.

The reason why I didn’t rate lower is because I was interested enough to move through to get to the good parts. The mystery was decent and it took me longer than usual to find out who was after her, so being slightly surprised is always a good thing. I was also expecting something completely different, so if you go into this one just thinking that it’s about a young woman and her journey to forget the past and move forward–WITHOUT ANY DEEP EMOTIONS INVOLVED–then you’ll enjoy this one.

20 Responses to “Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson”

    • Kat

      Exactly! I want to know more about them and their struggle, not how they end up falling hopelessly in love with some boy.

    • Kat

      YES!! LESS ROMANCE PLEASE!! I thought that would be so, especially when he’s not even in the blurb. It’s kind of like a gyp.

    • Kat

      Well thank you. I mean…there are worst books out there, but I’d rather recommend one I know is done well 🙂

  1. Cait @ Paper Fury

    OH MY GOSH I’M DISAPPOINTED. I didn’t adore Insomnia to bits but I still quite liked it. And I have Paranoia on my TBR…so I really wanted to read more from JR. Johanssen. *cries* Still, I’ll probably try this but with crappy dialogue and weird character development — consider me already dubious.
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    • Kat

      You know, if you like her other work. I say go for it. I’ve seen you around Cait and our taste is very different for some books. You might enjoy this one way more than I did!

    • Kat Stark @ Not Yet Read

      HAH YOU KNOW ME TOO WELL!! I thought it was odd too. I mean everything she mentioned, I could have guessed without her saying anything. There were no details that I wanted so badly to know what “really” happened. She mentions hitting a few times, but nothing DETAILED. It’s all hinted at :/
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  2. fatalerrer

    A story about abuse sans abuse? Hmm… Would the story make more sense if you looked at it from a different angle? What if Charlotte actually ran away from a good family because of some PERCEIVED abuse? What if Charlotte just has some mental illness and her mood swings with Cam are symptom? Considering her baby brother is named Sam and her love interest is named Cam, are they both just imaginary characters? Or, perhaps Charlotte was actually responsible for Sam’s death and in order to cope she shunted blame to her parents. Unable to handle the guilt she steals money from her parents and runs away turning to a life on the streets. When she meets Cam perhaps she projects all her thoughts of who she thought Sam might grow up to be onto him and struggles to process her own internal conflict through this externalization of her thoughts!

    I didn’t read it, but if it could be interpreted that way maybe it’d be worth a look. XD
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