Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Backwards” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.92  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  44 reviews
An unusual psychological thriller asks: Is it possible to fix a tragic future by changing the past — while experiencing life backwards?

At the moment Dan’s life ends, the Rider’s begins. Unwillingly tied to Dan, the Rider finds himself moving backwards in time, each day revealing more of the series of events that led to Dan’s suicide.
As the Rider struggles to figure out w
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Candlewick Press (first published August 1st 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Backwards, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Backwards

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  191 ratings  ·  44 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Vince Darcangelo
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing


By Todd Mitchell

Did you know there is no adjective form of the word “integrity”? Look it up. I was going to open this review with a declaration of how integritous we are here at Ensuing Chapters. Or is the word I’m looking for integrian? Integrilicious?

None of the above.

Nevertheless, that’s my silly way to introduce a serious (and seriously good) book with the requisite disclaimer: I have known Todd Mitchell, the author of the young adult novel, B
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Backwards” is a YA novel that begins with the suicide of Dan, a popular high school student. The author takes us on a journey through Dan’s past in order to understand why Dan decided to commit suicide in the first place and whether his “Rider” can change the course of history. A few characters play an essential role that include TR (another Rider Dan’s Rider befriends), Teagan (Dan’s younger sister), and Cat (an artistic girl who runs outside the “popular” crowd, but is the object of Dan’s aff ...more
Lori Johnstone
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fantasy
What made me pick up this book was the fact that the author would be attending READCON, an amazing event put on by the High Plains Library and specifically the Farr Library in Greeley, CO.

I browsed the display of books that Farr had presented in anticipation of the authors, and of course was drawn in by the compelling cover of Backwards. Additionally, my curiosity was piqued by the concept of the book. It was the Rider's fate to experience life backwards, linked to a body and a teenager named Da
Lisa Feld
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Two things really delighted me about this book. The first was how the action unfolds backwards; you're constantly reinterpreting what you know about the different characters and the world. People who seem wonderful or obnoxious on one day seem totally different when you discover what happened the day before to make them act that way, and yet it all hangs together beautifully.

The second thing, tied to that, is the way we slowly get to know the main character, Dan, and what drove him to suicide. A
Laura Resau
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this amazing book-- now one of my all-time YA faves. Backwards is that rare, multi-layered kind of book that manages to tell a thrilling, page-turning story while prompting you to think about the big who-am-I questions of existence. I love books like this, ones that change your perspective on what it means to be alive. The unique characters and their world will stay with me for a long time.
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first became familiar with Todd Mitchell through his YA novel, The Secret to Lying. In that title, his main character recreates himself. In Backwards, the main character is trying to figure out who he is, pulling the reader along every inch of the way, back through time. I hesitate to call Backwards a time-travel novel, since time only moves in one direction - in reverse. When a "Rider" finds himself hovering above and then inhabiting Dan, a teenager who has just committed suicide, he does not ...more
Man, this book. I'm really torn on how I feel about it. On the one hand, the backwards thing was cool, despite starting each day regularly (waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night, which I'll talk about later). Also, the characters were cool, and the Rider concept was intriguing. Easy to read, if a bit lacking in a few places.

On the other hand, it was very anti-climatic. From the beginning of the book I knew what had happened to Cat. I also knew Dan didn't do whatever she thought he
Dorothy Cady
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Who wouldn't want to go backwards through time with the hope of changing something that didn't come out quite the way you wanted it to? In Backwards, by Todd Mitchell, the Rider begins traveling back through time, one day at a time. Attached to Dan, the teenager who commits suicide in the opening scene, the Rider goes along as Dan's life unfolds backwards, while seeking the reason for its own existence. Though its topic is depressing, the book is as thrilling to read as a roller coaster is to ri ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book doesn't shy away from the anger, the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the emotional growing pains of being a teen. Nor does it trample the presence of possibility and hope. Instead of dwelling on the aftermath of suicide, it focuses on the before, the many small moments in a teen's life that can become all encompassing. Told in reverse, the reader follows events as they happen before understanding the underlying reason why. This is an intriguing, thought provoking read for parents and ...more
Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)
Rated 3.5 really.

Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA.

Pros: Fresh, well-executed premise. Great guessing game.
Cons: Lacks a strong emotional punch - though the very structure of the story accounts for that.
WARNING! Graphic depiction of suicide. Rape in the background.
Will appeal to: Those who like unusual premises, bookish puzzles, and stories about second chances - of the time-travel (but not sci-fi) variety.

As I already stated in the introductory section, this is NOT a
Julie Williams
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book starts with Dan’s suicide which is when the Rider is first aware of his existence. The narrator or Rider has no idea what is going on but is at once disgusted with Dan’s apparent wasted life and the effect his suicide has on his sister and mother. When the Rider next wakes up Dan is alive and the Rider soon discovers that he is experiencing Dan’s life backwards. As the Rider goes through Dan’s life he slowly discovers the events leading up to Dan’s suicide. Can he gain control of Dan’s ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow -- This was an amazing book. . . Masterfully written. Mitchell finds a way to deal with suicide
(and other challenges that so many teens and families face) in a refreshingly non-glamorizing and
perspective-shifting way. I was gripped by the first chapter, and then found myself reading faster and faster,
eager to get to the end/beginning. When I finished, I was a little stunned, and immediately started reading
back through it with a new-found perspective. Eager for my friends to read it now to
May 09, 2014 rated it liked it
This was an odd book. I'm not even sure if I totally understood what I had read when I was finished it. There were a lot of things that didn't quite add up, in my mind. I mostly enjoyed it, and it was a good reminder that every person has their own personal demons they are battling. A very good effort, I enjoyed the uniqueness of the setup, even though I'm not sure if the actual execution worked.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Better Take on Teen Struggles

This story is so unique! The viewpoint of going backwards through the crucial events of Dan’s life is brilliant and more interesting than doing it through flashbacks. The overall concept reminds me of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why (and this book did it first), however this version does far less victimizing and blaming of the characters surrounding the main character. It’s a meaningful story for teens and adults and touches on some intense topics with honesty a
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absorbing, well told story

Depressing subject but the story and the telling make you care. Also just a good story and a good read.
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
We are lucky to have Todd Mitchell, his talent and prose bring voice to pressing issues for teens and young people.

I sent a letter to Mr. Mitchell about the affect the book had on me, and here is what I said. I hope the letter states the importance of the book. Plus, look this isn't the same old tune about teenager feeling left out, it's original, paranormal, a recalibration to a genre that's swollen in a Barnes and Noble near you....there are enough moments in Mitchell's prose and story that br
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads program.

The story follows a disembodied spirit with no memory, who witnesses the suicide of a teenager named Dan, and finds himself drawn inside... only to wake up inside Dan's body and everything's fine. Soon he realizes that every day he lives through takes him one day further back in time, and through watching his host's actions, and the actions of his family, former friends, schoolmates, as well as the girl he seems
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
He wakes up to see blood dripping and blooming in a bathtub full of water. He tries to focus, to figure out what is happening, but there is only panic and people rushing to try to save him. And then black. When he wakes up the next day, it is as if nothing has happened. He gets up and goes through his routine, trying to understand this life he now has to live. This is the existence of a Rider; a soul who comes into the body of a person who is in need of help. This Rider is with Dan, and is trave ...more
What a treat this book was! While exploring questions about whether it's possible to change the way things turn out even when you know what's going to happen, the book also examines some of the usual dramas of high school during which cliques form and judge others based on their appearances and small physical flaws somehow are blown out of proportion. The book begins with a shocking scene--the suicide of Dan, the book's main character, and the appearance of the Rider, someone who inhabits Dan's ...more
Um, I kind of accidentally read this whole book in one sitting! The writing felt a little clunky at times, and I'm still a bit confused/concerned about a few things (view spoiler) ...more
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
The book wasn't quite what I expected when the blurb said it was a thriller however I did enjoy the read.

The book starts with Dan's suicide and his "spirit" hanging over him observing and wondering who he himself is and what he has to do with the dead boy in the bathtub. As things unfold for the spirit he lives Dan's life in reverse and all the while he is looking for the answers to who he is and how he is connected to Dan. Then he gets a fixation on Dan's girlfriend who won't have anything to d
Courtney Burgess
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book has taken the spot as my favorite book.
A boy named Dan has just committed suicide and you witness the pain and suffering from his mom and sister.You think it is all over but the next day you wake up and he is fine.How could this be? You, the Rider are living his life backwards to see why he. Omitted suicide.This book is a emotional roller coaster and you figure out one thing can change your future.You follow along with Dan as you meet Cat,Teagan,Flynn and Waster as you live a boys life
David Hilton
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it

So, now I've read two Todd Mitchell books. I'm detecting a theme: they are both pretty dark and depressing. That's probably a good thing according to my taste; it beats the fluffy drivel that is most YA lit. Why do I like YA lit when it is mostly so cheese?

The whole telling the story backwards bit works pretty well and adds a certain odd suspense. I'd rather not read about teen rape and suicide, but I know they are real and need exposure.

Brave writing, but spotty in places. I had to go back to
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
This was an engaging read with a great narrator. Reading this book was like slowly peeling back the layers of an onion. Each level revealed something pertinent to the story. I guessed early on what was going on, but it was still engaging to read. This book definitely made you think about suicide and how badly someone must be hurting to take their own life. I loved how Dan went from a despised character to one that you genuinely felt sorry for. I will absolutely be looking for more titles by this ...more
Ben Swall-Yarrington
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It saddens me that books like this one are not more widely read. It works on so many levels. A brutally honest look at the affects of suicide, a suspenseful plot, a mind bending concept that rivals Inception, and heartbreakingly real characters. I assure you: you have never read anything like this. You're local bookstore might not have it, because they're too busy ordering copies of the new sensational dystopian series or romances with every mythical creature imaginable. This one is better. Trus ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an incredibly imaginative book! As the Rider and Dan coexist while Dan's life moves backwards from his suicide toward the inevitable tragedy that he tries to stop before it occurs, readers will be on the edge of their seats. It is hard to describe this book without experiencing the reading of it because it is so unique, but as things come together successfully (and with some surprises) in the end it harbors much food for thought.
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book made by Todd Mitchell that I just couldn't put this book down. I absolutely loved how Todd Mitchell described the scenes so well with literal and figurative language. The way he made the "rider" observer really impacted the story a lot. The suspense inside the story made it a page-turner every moment. I just loved it.
Deb Ristow
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I received this book as a Good Reads winner. I love the storyline with the story starting from the reader working backwards from the conclusion that gripped them right from the beginning. The story is an easy read and the author does a great job keeping the reader coming back for more. Even though it is rated YA, it definitely is a book for readers of all ages.

Amy Ryan
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mitchell's novel is a powerful look at the forces that might lead someone to suicide. The clever plotting and structure kept me guessing, and made it very hard to put the book down. It's been a long time since I've been kept up like that. I highly recommend this thoughtful novel, and its ultimately hopeful message.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Time Travel: Backwards 1 29 Oct 09, 2013 04:33PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Remember Me & The Return Part I  (Remember Me, #1-2)
  • Vulpi (Thyla, #2)
  • House of Bones (Point Horror Unleashed)
  • Taken
  • Broken
  • Fallout (The Phoenix Files, #5)
  • Sweetie
  • Equinox (The Rosie Black Chronicles, #2)
  • Fierce September (Juno, #2)
  • Jinx
  • Talking to Strangers
  • Backward Glass
  • The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher
  • Plague in the Mirror
  • Juvie
  • Contaminated (Contaminated, #1)
  • Now You're One of Us
  • How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days (10 Days, #2)
See similar books…
In high school I was voted "Most Likely To Go Insane." I don't think I've succeeded in that department yet. As far as I know, I write books and teach creative writing at Colorado State University. This goes to show that we can't all live up to our high school expectations.

My most recent book, THE LAST PANTHER, just came out in fall of 2017 with Random House. Here are some early reviews. I hope y
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »