Review: When Ryan Came Back

when ryan came backWhen Ryan Came Back by Devon McCormack
Published: 16.10.2014 by Harmony Ink Press
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way. 

Synopsis: Steven’s life changes forever the day he discovers his childhood friend and lifelong crush, Ryan Walters, standing in his bedroom. The problem? Ryan Walters committed suicide just days earlier. Ryan tells Steven that he didn’t kill himself. He believes he was murdered and that his death is linked to an article he was working on for the school paper. Steven sets out to solve the mystery, but as the story unfolds, so does Ryan’s secret life of sex with guys and depression. Steven realizes suicide is more plausible than Ryan’s conspiracy theory, but he struggles to convince Ryan of the real cause of his death. And despite revelations of his friend’s closeted life, he must face the truth that Ryan doesn’t—and never will—love him.


This is one of those books I should’ve read and reviewed ages ago. When I first started my blog, I requested way too many books from Netgalley. Now I’m still trying to read them all -even if my reading tastes have changed ever since. Yet I’ve been in a mystery-book-mood lately, so I figured it was the perfect time to try and read this. The synopsis sounds like tons of fun. Unfortunately, I had some problems with it. 

In itself, the mystery was fun. You’re trying to figure out whether Ryan really killed himself, or whether someone killed him. He doesn’t remember anything after school that day, so it’s not like Steven can just ask him. While maybe a tad unbelievable, I still liked the mystery. I didn’t see the twist at the end coming, it took me completely by surprise. But the mystery turned out to be the only aspect I really did like. 

At first, I quite liked the main character, Steven. He’s a teenager, struggling with the fact that he’s gay -and that he was in love with his friend (who is now dead). I felt for him. It’s definitely not an easy position for a teenager. But some of the things he said (or thought) were in my opinion, really problematic. At first, I thought I was overreacting, so I messaged my friend and asked her opinion. She thought it was problematic too. Here’s what bothered me first:

Now, people just called me Charlie Brown on account of my fat snout and round featureless face. Didn’t do wonders for my self-esteem, but I’d never considered offing myself because of it. If I hadn’t thought about it, I couldn’t imagine why someone who had as much adoration and praise as Ryan would have.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees the problem with this? It’s really insensitive, first of all. Second, don’t presume to know everything about a person from the way you perceived his life. And then Ryan says the following: 

And their guesses about what was wrong with me. They acted like I had some sort of mental defect…

Mental defect, really? And then we got to the following cringe-worthy statement of attraction: 

I wanted his pink lips pressed against mine, his stubby fingers gliding under my shirt, stroking up and down my back, appreciating me like he appreciated a freshly baked brownie.

Yikes. I shall never look at a brownie the same again. As you can see, the book didn’t get off to the best start for me.

Things got a little better, as we got more and more into the mystery though. I thought Lindsey was a good friend, as she was supportive of Steven coming out. But even though I liked the mystery, I just couldn’t give this a higher rating. There are several more aspects of this book I believe are problematic -or just plain messed up.

Steven’s mother?? How can you be like that?? Although I do believe that Steven dealt with that in a healthy way.  I didn’t like how Steven felt entitled to investigate every aspect of Ryan’s life, even though the latter asked him not to. It doesn’t matter that he’s dead. It’s disrespectful to not respect someone’s privacy. And I didn’t like the way he overreacted when he discovered that Ryan had lied to him, or kept secrets. People are entitled to keep secrets! It’s called privacy. No one has to tell you everything that happens in their life if they don’t want to. Steven also left his date in a restaurant after being there for 2 minutes, to snoop into Ryan’s journals when his mother wasn’t there. Are you kidding me? That’s so rude! Lastly, while I think their romance was cute, I don’t think it’s healthy. Sue me, but I don’t think a relationship is healthy when ONE OF THE TWO IS DEAD. 

I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, the only thing I truly liked was the mystery. As you can tell, I had some issues with the rest of the book. However, most of the ratings on Goodreads appear to be 4-star or 5-star ones, so maybe you should read it and see how you feel about it. I seem to be the odd one out here. 

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25, reader, blogger, feminist, INFJ

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