Two years ago, Dakota Webb borrowed one of Adrienne Knox's dresses, walked away, and despite a decade of friendship, for no identifiable reason, she just... stopped talking to her. Now, Dakota is a local indie rock goddess and constant gossip fodder, known for being fickle, flighty, and completely irresistible to anyone she sets her sights on. Adrienne, meanwhile, has a solid group of friends—they do a lot of eating gourmet foods, drinking to excess, and hooking up—and a devoted boyfriend.
When Adrienne gets a garbled voicemail from a possibly-crying Dakota, she chalks it up as either (at best) a drunk dial or (at worst) an obnoxious mind game. So she doesn't call back.
Fours days later, Dakota is missing and Adrienne is convinced that she's made a huge mistake. She tries returning the call, but no dice. Shortly after that, Dakota's car is found by the ocean... and there's a suicide note on the steering wheel. Adrienne knows that there's more to Dakota's disappearance than people are assuming, and she's determined to find out the whole story.
If Brett Easton Ellis had written Paper Towns, it might have come out a bit like Then You Were Gone. Which sounds weird, I know, but here we are. The basic plotline runs along similar lines as Paper Towns—Manic Pixie Nightmare Girl Is Missing, Person With Childhood Connection to Her Attempts To Solve the Mystery of her Disappearence—but it feels more like Less Than Zero, in that most of the emotion in the book feels flat and muffled*. It's also like Less Than Zero in that it's set in the Los Angeles area; is about a group of privileged, often inebriated high schoolers; and stars a protagonist who becomes more and more discontented with/disconnected from her peers.
While it has its strengths—especially two scenes in Adrienne has life-changing confrontations (to say more would be mega-spoilery), and her tentative-friendship-turned-burning-passion with Dakota's ex-sort-of-boyfriend—in all honesty, it's not a book that did much for me. That really was due more to personal preference than to any critical issues with the writing, though—when there isn't an emotional connection of some sort, it's an uphill battle for me—so it might well be worth a look for other readers.
*At least, that was my experience with Less Than Zero.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.