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When I Am Through with You

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A gripping story of survival and the razor’s-edge difference between perfect cruelty and perfect love.

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

Smart, dark, and twisty, When I Am Through With You will leave readers wondering what it really means to do the right thing.

292 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2017

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Stephanie Kuehn

14 books460 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 349 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
May 10, 2019
Hoooooooooooo boy. So this was my last read of 2017, and also my first one star since fucking MARCH. MARCH. I read two hundred and fifty fucking books this year, and I one starred three of them. AND THIS WAS ONE. JESUS.

There is something utterly repulsive about this book. It’s a book of violence that feels pointless, for shock value before anything else. All the characters in this book are horrible people, all the stories feel underdeveloped, and the plot is just… a shitpost.

Listen, guys, I am not one to complain about weird books. I love weird books. Or to complain about too much violence. I love violence. (Yes, this is irony.) Or unlikable characters. I love unlikable and morally grey characters. But what, pray tell, am I supposed to get out of a book that is 100% brutality and 0% interesting?

Not to be a broken record, but I do not understand the appeal of torture porn. Find the meaning. Find the character development.

The plot - oh my god, the fucking plot - feels so undriven. Character objectives are so inconsistent and change so quickly that half the plot - including several deaths - feel completely pointless. And yeah, okay, biggest pet peeve: every single character lacks any fucking semblance of common sense. And I wish I could say this was used to some greater effect, because I think Kuehn knows these tropes exist. She just… doesn’t try to subvert them. I am not joking when I say that this situation only occurred because of around twenty different bad decisions.

And to be quite honest, a half-decent moral might not have turned me away from how repulsive this was to read. And what kind of ending is this, anyway?

Like, guys, four people die because of stupidity. It’s brutal and absolutely not fun at all to read.

Okay, literally the only thing that I liked about this book was the shattered semblance of character development given to Ben. Guys, I am so pissed off. Ben and Rose are set up to be such complex characters, but I guess someone forgot the memo that actually interesting characters need development. You know, growth and change? I forgot what that is, sorry.

In all seriousness, there’s something so strangely uncomfortable about a book that ends up essentially using a black woman to further the character development of the white boy protagonist. I get the feeling this isn't the intent and it's meant to be commentary, but there isn't actually any commentary and so it's just sort of... a weird, vaguely tropey element of the book.

Please someone tell me what the meaning of this book was? Because I see the slight buildup to some kind of meaning, but I don’t see the actual thoughts. And I didn’t even not get the ending - I get it, I see what's being said - I just don’t think it’s that impressive. And I certainly did not want to read this 300-page trashheap to get to it.

IN CONCLUSION: Stephanie Kuehn is so talented so why did she write this. I literally despised every single lead of this book, found the plot repulsive, and was overall disappointed. (Which you hopefully understood.) It's a no from me.

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Profile Image for Erin .
1,230 reviews1,143 followers
December 7, 2017
There is a lot going on in this book.

When I Am Through With You is about a high school camping trip gone horribly wrong. This book started off so good and was riveting, compelling, and dark but towards the end I felt that the wheels came completely off the story. The book took some unbelievable turns that kind of pulled me out of the story. I didn't believe a word the main character Ben said, he is your classic unreliable narrator.

I still enjoyed the story and would recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Gray Cox.
Author 4 books164 followers
March 27, 2018
So here's this story's plot (spoilers included):

-Dull, boring, depressed guy meets quirky life-loving girl (UGH. The John Green cliché, spare me).

-Guy and girl's relationship practically revolves around sex. (Sounds perfectly healthy... not.)

-Guy claims to worship girl.

-Guy claims to rely on girl. (Once again, this is oh, so healthy).

-Guy acts like a baby and tries to convince reader that the girl has changed after a trip.

-Guy and girl go on a camping trip with a few friends.

-Guy has sex with one of his childhood friends. (Seriously, this guy thinks with his junk. Let's have spontaneous sex in the woods, even though I'm a relationship and you're like a sister to me! Fantastic idea!)

-Everything goes wrong. (And I mean, EVERYTHING. I'm not even getting into it).

-Guy mercy kills his girlfriend because he "loves" her.

-Guy ends up in court.

It was disturbing (it was disturbing that it made me want to teleport into that book and strangle all of the characters), I'll give it that. But I hated all of the characters and pretty much everything.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews675 followers
September 30, 2019
“There’s just something about presumed competence that makes you really want to try, you know?”

It is time to admit that Stephanie Kuehn, despite her wild popularity in GR community, is not an author for me. I managed to finished this book, yes but didn’t enjoy or connect to it at all. Which was actually a STEP UP from my last attempt to read her Charm & Strange - that one I had to give up on, I didn’t even know what the hell was going on in there!

As to When I Am Through with You, why did anybody do anything is a mystery to me. I mean I know why, I just can’t see how they came to that decisions in the first place. And everyone apparently spoke in codes?? For some reason? Yeah I agree that people don’t usually pour their hearts out to each other but I also don’t think they converse this expertly in ambiguity either. Is it just me???

“It’s strange how loving someone can make them feel worthless, but that’s what sickness does. Abuse too.”
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,719 reviews462 followers
August 9, 2017
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this book a lot. The story grabbed me right away and I was completely hooked. This is the first time that I have read anything by Stephanie Kuehn but I quickly found that she is a fabulous storyteller. I ended up reading this book over two nights and really never wanted to put it down because I had to know what happened. I had a lot of fun reading this book.

This story is told by Ben. I really liked the way the story unfolded through Ben's recollection after the event. From the book's summary, we know that Ben does something to Rose but as I read the story I just couldn't figure it out. Ben is really a likeable guy. He's not perfect and doesn't always know the answers but I just couldn't see him causing harm to anyone. So I had to keep reading to find out what really happened.

The book takes Ben, his teacher, and a few more high school students on an overnight hiking trip. I was a little surprised by how much this group of kids got away with on the trip. Ben is the teacher's assistant for the trip so he has a bit of responsibility but he doesn't hesitate to have a little fun himself. There is a bit of high school drama which I really didn't mind in this story. It felt realistic and really helped show who each of the characters really were.

There are a few surprising twists in the story and a whole lot of excitement before everything is over. I really had no idea what was going to happen to everyone as the story moved along. I ended up feeling for these kids as they tried to figure out how to handle the situation they found themselves in.

I would recommend this book to others. It was a really exciting story that was really hard to put down. I definitely plan to read more of Stephanie Kuehn's work in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Dutton Books for Young Readers via First to Read.

Initial Thoughts
This book really surprised me. When I first downloaded this book from First to Read, it kept freezing my tablet up and just giving me an all around rough time. I decided to see if it was behaving any better last night and while the file was still a bit temperamental, I was willing to fight my way through the book because the story completely grabbed me. I loved Ben's voice in this book and was never really sure what would happen next.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews874 followers
July 8, 2017
What a pleasant surprise. I've never read a YA thriller before, which is why I requested this one on a whim. I was curious. But honestly, my expectations hadn't been very high. More fool me.

When I Am Through with You is told from the point of view of Ben, a high school senior who's waiting to go on trial for murder. As his story begins to unfold, we first learn about Rose, his girlfriend of two years who he allegedly ends up murdering. We also learn all about the school hiking trip up in the mountains that went wrong, as this compelling story of intrigue, adventure, and betrayal develops.

This is one of the most addicting books I've ever read. It had me from the very first page. I cared about these characters, who were at once sympathetic and realistically flawed, and I was intrigued by Ben's complicated relationship with Rose. I was drawn into the host of fascinating characters - whip-smart Avery; mean and self-loathing Archie; kind-hearted but unfulfilled Mr. Howe, the history teacher who leads their expedition. Each of these characters is multifaceted, and has their own story to tell.

I'd never heard of Stephanie Kuehn before, but I can say with certainty that I will be reading more of her books in the future. I thought her prose was intelligent, compelling, and quick-witted. The pacing in this novel was outstanding - I sat down to start this yesterday and when I blinked hours had gone by. Kuehn brought the scene of this treacherous camping trip to life - I truly felt like I was with this group of students on that mountain. It's been a while since I've read something with such an immersive setting.

I highly recommend this to fans of adult and YA thrillers alike. The only thing that served as a constant reminder that this was YA were the ages of the characters - otherwise, I found this novel surprisingly mature and dark and quite twisted.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin First To Read in exchange for an honest review. Big thank you to Penguin Random House and Stephanie Kuehn.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,171 reviews251 followers
August 13, 2017
1.5 Stars
"Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That's the allure of self-destruction. Or so I've found."

Oh, this book. I actually started out really liking it. I loved the mystery and I wanted a great thriller to read. Unfortunately, this book completely fell apart at the climax of the story and my interest nosedived. We follow Ben Gibson as he narrates what happened on a disastrous school trip that lead to death, pain, and loss.

Things I Liked
I really loved the short chapters it made it incredible easy to read, even when my interest in the story began to wane.

It was really easy to latch on Ben as a characters. It was easy to follow his POV in the story, and his emotions and uncertainty with everything that was happening.

Things I Didn't Like
I didn't like Rose at all. I thought she was entitled, manipulative, and not really a good girlfriend. (Ben wasn't that great of a boyfriend either, though)

The climax of the story shows the students making the stupidest decision possible. From that point on, I didn't care if they died, or got hurt, because they were so incredibly stupid. I lost interest in the story, and I honestly only finished it because it was easy to read.

I really wanted to like this, and while it has a solid start, the characters completely ruined the story for me. I'm a character driven reader, so if you like plot or action more you still might like this. And honestly, there wasn't much of a thriller, we know exactly what happened and are only learning the why - and like I said, the characters were largely idiots, so I didn't care. An unfortunate miss for me.

I received a copy of the book from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,144 reviews1,009 followers
August 9, 2017
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


This book was good, friends. I have always enjoyed Stephanie Kuehn's writing in the past, but for me, this book took it to a whole new level. I consumed it in one night, which is rare for me, but I basically needed to keep reading. Like the author's other books, it will be hard to do a proper review, simply because I want to give nothing away. You need to read this for yourself, to experience the plot points as they come.

One of the themes of this book (and a theme I am an absolute fan of in general) is survival. I loved the way that the author mixed the survival aspects of the mountain with the more mystery/thriller elements. It made for a quite well rounded story, and the action was fabulous. In addition, I really cared about the characters in this one. I found them complex and well fleshed out, and it made the stakes even higher as a reader.

And, the elements I'd come to expect from a Stephanie Kuehn novel were all present: Incredibly captivating writing, and a big dose of eeriness. The author doesn't shy away from the strange, or from the horrifying, but that is what makes this book so flat out engrossing.

Bottom Line: With a fresh twist on a survival story (or perhaps, a survivalist twist on a thriller), this book will undoubtedly have you turning the pages wanting more.

*Copy provided for review
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,304 reviews220 followers
August 17, 2017
**Thanks to First to Read for providing me a complimentary copy of WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU in exchange for my honest review.**


Ben killed his girlfriend Rose, and he's about to tell you why.

A heartbreaking story of abandonment, child neglect and domestic violence made Ben who he was. His father left when he was two, his stepfather nearly killed his mother, Ben accidentally killed him before his mother not-accidentally tried to kill him all before the age of eleven. He cares for his alcoholic mother, still suffering from injuries from the car accident that didn't kill Ben. He plans to sacrifice his future to continue taking care of her, despite how terribly she treats him. Rose also treats him badly.

Mr. Howe, a kindly teacher takes Ben under his wing as assistant to a hiking club, which is how the teens ended up on a mountain. Not everyone would come down alive.

Stephanie Kuehn is an automatic preorder for me, so I was thrilled to get an ARC copy of WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU. She drew me into this mystery from the beginning with Ben's confession to killing Rose. I like and empathized with Ben and often wanted to tell him he was worth more than he thought he was. My other favorite characters were Mr and Mrs Howe.

While some of the scenarios in the story stretched credulity, I cared what happened to Ben and the other kids. If you like mysteries and complex narrators, WHEN I'M THROUGH WITH YOU is unputdownable.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,268 reviews8 followers
August 13, 2017
3.5 stars

Our protagonist, Ben Gibson, has no confidence. He comes from a dysfunctional home, previously accused of killing his step-father. He is a teenager, caught in the web of care giver for his invalid drugged out Mother. His only salvation in the world is Rose Augustine - who approached him and stated she was becoming his girlfriend - period! Ben went along.

On a school camping trip in the mountains, Ben, Rose, her twin Tomas, and a handful of other misfit students run into trouble. It appears that each student has his or her own agenda. People are lost, people are killed, and things look really bad for Ben.

This story is told by Ben. In his own way.

This story seemed to rise and fall. This is a YA novel and that is easy to detect. However it had some well developed characters that helped to move the story along. Once you give yourself over to Ben, you want to continue to read.

Thanks to First to Read and Penguin Books for giving me this ARC in exchange for a truthful review.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,392 followers
May 14, 2017
I do not remember the last time I read a book that unputdownable.
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,492 reviews146 followers
August 22, 2022
3 out of 5 Stars for this survival thriller...


Basically, I felt the entire plot is thrown off by the fact that this trip/hike that these high-school-age teens go on was a little hard to swallow. I mean…a hike in the mountains with overnight stays and only one teacher goes along…yeah, I don't think so. This teacher was so clueless that he lets girls and boys sleep in the same tent, by themselves. Not to mention the blatant pot smoking and drinking that is done by these teens…it didn't seem like they were trying to hide it at all.

A tale of survival more than a mystery, with less than likable characters, who are only capable of mostly horrible decisions and a sketchy plot filled with so many odd little intricacies that I was left feeling puzzled. And yet, I was somehow still compelled to keep listening despite all these issues. Go figure.


Plot~ 3/5
Main Characters~ 3/5
Secondary Characters~ 2.5/5
The Feels~ 3.2/5
Pacing~ 4/5
Addictiveness~ 4/5
Theme or Tone~ 2.5/5
Flow (Writing Style)~ 4/5
Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.2/5
Originality~ 4/5
Ending~ 3.5/5
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,478 reviews900 followers
July 22, 2017
I've read all but one of Stephanie Kuehn's books. She's an amazing writer who excels at writing characters who are troubled, off-balance, sometimes even a little sinister.

But this book was really, really dark. Too grim for me. I should have known I was in trouble when the book referenced Lord of the Flies and Deliverance. And And this was just as disturbing.

Ben's had a hard life and now suffers debilitating migraines as the result of a TBI. He and a group of kids go on a camping/hiking trip in the mountains and ... things don't go well at all. Ben tells you right at the start of the book what he did - kill someone. That sounds bad enough, but the getting there is even worse!

If you haven't tried Kuehn's books, you definitely should. But be warned that this one isn't for the faint of heart!

Read more of my reviews on JenRyland.com or check out my Bookstagram!
Profile Image for Eliza.
594 reviews1,374 followers
January 9, 2018

I just realized that I never wrote a review for this, which is strange.

However, unfortunately, I can't remember this novel too well (says a lot about the impact this made on me). All I remember is that it didn't turn out to be anything I thought it would be, and that the prologue was more interesting than the rest of the book, which sucked. It sets you up to think you're going to read this awesome story, only to find out it's pretty average. But, I mean, average is better than terrible...

Oh yeah, now it's coming back to me. I remember the crazy girlfriend and the main character (I don't feel like looking-up their names) - they're pretty much the reason why this didn't get 2 stars from me. Both of them were wrong for one another, and so messed up. But it was interesting to see how their trip ended. Even if the results were ridiculous.

So, yeah, it was disappointing.
Profile Image for Lilly (Lair Of Books).
339 reviews180 followers
August 18, 2017
***5 STARS**** Full review can also be found on my blog Lair Of Books: https://lairofbooksblog.wordpress.com...


Let’s just start by getting this out of the way….I LOOOOOOOVED this book!!!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I’ll tell you why ;) In what I found to be a unique form of story telling, our MC Ben is telling us this story as he sits in Jail which is disclosed in the very beginning & in the synopsis (no spoilers here lol). This had me asking all sorts of questions & all of the answers made this one story i’ll find hard to forget. From the opening pages, Ben Gibson starts off by recounting the day he met Rose. He’s automatically infatuated with everything about this gorgeous girl who seems too mature to be in High School. Even more unlikely is Rose approaching him and making him her boyfriend. Make no mistake, Rose doesn’t ask she tells him they are now in a relationship. This pretty much sets the tone for this story, both are complex characters for very different reasons. Ben is someone who comes from a toxic home environment & Rose is the polar opposite but she has her own dark passenger. Ben is part of the schools Orienteering class where you are taught all there is to know about camp, survival, map & compass reading. This is one thing that makes Ben feel good about himself and there isn’t much of that in his life. We’re introduced to the other students in the class who all fall into the cliques we’ve all seen form in High School. Ben however, is the teachers right hand man and he sort of leads the class whether they like it or not. They prepare to go on one class trail exploring trip with Ben spear heading while their teacher supervises. Ben, a character who likes to be in control of every variable has his doubts about whether he can successfully lead. He has no idea how justified his doubts really are. This book might have played out like one of those movies we’ve probably all seen where campers get lost in the woods & everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong. The thing is with so many players on the board having their own personal demons, it eliminates all predictability. I was HOOKED! this tale is DARK and twisted, it will make you question our MC who is also narrating since this is first person POV. It will have you looking at every character with a mean side eye lol & ultimately leave you shook!


Without getting into too many specifics, I can tell you this isn’t your ordinary cast of High School students. They each have secrets, some are manipulative, and others think they are better off than they really are. Ben Gibson isn’t like any MC I’ve ever come across in YA or even Adult Fiction for that matter. I wondered whether he was a unreliable character or just dead inside. It seemed like he couldn’t catch a break at times & others left me wondering if certain events cemented his fate. I found his story to be tragic and he surprised me when I read the last line in this book with a tear streaked face. I was left wondering what could’ve been if life had dealt him a different set of cards & not just him. All of the characters seemed lost inside & they kept me invested in this story. I NEEDED to know how and why. It’s been so long since I’ve come across characters that leave me thinking of them after I’ve read the last page.


GRIPPING! DARK! TWISTED! I’ve read other YA thrillers but NONE like this before. Yes I have already added this authors other books to my TBR, I’m definitely going to need more from where this came from lol. I inhaled this book similarly to how my read of Mary Kubica’s Every Last Lie went last month…to the very early hours of the morning. Although we are given the end game in the beginning with Ben sitting in jail, how he got there is one MESSED up story you can’t possibly see forming til you’ve been given the final piece. I think writing this story in first person POV worked so well in giving us a sense of what Ben does & does not feel. Being in his head isn’t the easiest but that only heightened my interest. You really shouldn’t expect to like any of these characters, they don’t even like themselves but know you’re in for one hell of a sick ride! I was surprised to see on Goodreads that this is a start to a series & would love to know if the next book will have us following a new set of characters or the same. My guess is that it’s going to be one of those series where each book stands on its own but it any of you know please let me know down in the comments.

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Dutton Books and Stephanie Kuehn for this eGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Mónica BQ.
765 reviews117 followers
August 28, 2017

Stephanie Kuehn writes in such a riveting way, that I'm always submerged in her books once I start one of them. She writes unapologetically about disturbing situations and/or individuals. I love that her characters are always complex and multi-faceted.

To be honest, this book is worth the read for the quotes alone. But in between the astonishing sentences there's an incredible story. Although I do have to say that it lost it's enthralling fast- pace for a bit. A few things required a suspension of disbelief that threw me from what was being narrated. Especially .

As it's always the case with Kuehn's books there's not much that I can say about the story without spoiling everything. I can only review in vague impressions and overall emotions. The book details the happenings of a group of teenagers during a camping trip, narrated by one them from prison after the events of that trip. The book starts strong and fast and I was glued to the pages. And even thou it does have a few flaws, the story is, as ever, dark and powerful and brutal and tragic. And I love more than anything that it was written for teenagers.
Profile Image for Sarah Ames-Foley.
506 reviews69 followers
April 24, 2020
This review can also be found on my blog.

This found its way onto my TBR after Rachel’s five-star review of it, and I’m thankful I let her guide my decision to read it instead of paying attention to the relatively poor rating it has on Goodreads. First and foremost, it’s important to remember that this is a YA thriller and to adjust expectations accordingly. I wasn’t going into this expecting a new and meaningful favorite; I went into this wanting to read something entertaining, which is what I got.

Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That’s the allure of self-destruction. Or so I’ve found.

The reader knows from the outset that one of the main characters will die, but we have no way of knowing how, when, or why. The tension in the novel slowly builds as the narrator unfurls the story of what happened. There were points where I felt things were a bit absurd in how dramatic they got, but by the last 15-20% I was fully hooked on wanting to know what would happen and thought the eventual reveals were really well-done.

“But even if he were my boyfriend, it wouldn’t be my fault that he’s an asshole.”
“I didn’t say it would be.”
“But you were thinking it, weren’t you? Everyone always blames women for the things men do. It’s why men never learn.”

In addition to being a solid thriller, I felt like the underlying commentary here was quite interesting. Without getting into spoilers, I’ll just briefly say that I think this book does a great job of showing the harm toxic relationships can cause while also demonstrating how difficult they can be to leave. There are multiple instances of these, both familial and romantic, and range from outright abuse to dependency. The messages conveyed are important and while the setting has a level of drama that doesn’t quite rise to realism, it’s still easy to see how they can be translated to real life.

That was noble, wasn’t it? To think of others first? I’d always told myself that, but doubt chewed at the edges of my certainty. Maybe the truth was that I preferred death to guilt.

One of my only complaints is that some of the background characters felt interchangeable and unnecessary, but I think the larger cast was necessary for the plot to progress the way it did. For the most part, though, this was a really solid thriller. It fully captured me and ended up being a good read. I’d definitely recommend it to those who enjoy the genre.

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Profile Image for Kathleen.
180 reviews27 followers
July 9, 2017
The target audience for this book is teens, so I'm a couple decades past that target but reading about these characters brought me back to those difficult years. The concern about what other people were thinking and doing, the inability to see past the immediate challenges of family, teachers, grades, high school relationships... it's a confusing time in life. Especially when, like many of the characters in this book, your family life has been far from nurturing.

The main character in When I am Through With You is Ben. We find out right away that Ben has been charged with murder, and that he's not sorry about it. Other than some brief backstory on how he met his girlfriend, Rose, and how he came to be involved in the fateful weekend trip, with people he wasn't exactly friends with. Most of the novel takes place a few suspenseful days spent camping and mountaineering with a group of high school students and one teacher that starts out according to plan, but goes spiraling into chaos due to unexpected situations, misunderstanding, mother nature, young love, and most of all - bad decision-making.

When I look back at my teen years, bad decision -making is a recurring theme, as I expect it is for most people. That's why I find books like this especially intriguing. There's so much pressure at that time in your life when you have so little life experience that it's not hard to imagine how easily the wrong mixture of circumstances, hormones, uncertainty, and peer pressure can turn into tragedy. This is a story of just that, in a very compelling and suspenseful read.

Thank you to Penguin's First to read program for providing me with an advance copy for review.
Profile Image for hayden.
1,054 reviews732 followers
July 31, 2017
i'm kind of frustrated with stephanie kuehn right now.

not because of when i am through with you — precisely the opposite. i'm frustrated because this is her fifth book in a row and not one of them has been bad or even kind-of-bad or even not good or even just-OK. she just keeps writing knockouts, dammit! what kind of cyborg shit is going on here?

kuehn's latest thriller—as we have come to expect from her but can still graciously appreciate—features an astute psychological bent without using it as a flashy plot point, something that is all too tempting in a split -filled world. it also feels like it's got a 150-page climax. it's got a wonderfully diverse cast, realistic dialogue (yes, teens say potty words!), and the tension builds like a tightening guitar string.

kuehn's books give you hangovers (in a wonderful way—i don't often say "i can't wait for this hangover!" unless i'm picking one of her books up), and each one has a unique flavor. the last one, the smaller evil, left me feeling like my mind had been shaken up, soaked, wrung out, and hung up to dry—i wasn't sure what the hell had just happened, which of the seven theories i had was the correct one. with this book, it's like my mind has been squeezed tight, and i'm left with the aches that pulse afterward (in a really pleasant, sad-that-it's-over way)—these characters have left their marks.

basically, wow, all the stars, 10/10
Profile Image for Mandy.
636 reviews67 followers
August 2, 2017
*I am part of the blog tour, so I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!*

OMG. I'm not quite sure where to even begin with this one. Did I think this would be a good mystery? Yeah, sure. Did I think I might be surprised by some of the twists and turns? Definitely. Did I think that one night I would pick it up and never set it down because I was in so deep and couldn't stop myself from finding out just what the book hell was going down? No, but that's exactly what happened.

"Other people are born to be the protagonist, the main character, the brightest star in the galaxy.

But not me."

This story starts off with Ben, our narrator and main character, telling us that he's not a good guy. That he's sitting in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, Rose. I was so intrigued by this. I mean, we're learning that Ben isn't quite the good guy we're used to getting as our protagonist and how do you deal with the fact that you're already knowing the end of the story? We know the end result, but Kuehn is a master of captivation. Even though I somewhat knew the end result, I still didn't know how we got there, and I couldn't help flipping pages to find out the true story.

Kuehn has such a unique writing style, and I was in love. The words and phrases that she uses are so unique and beautiful. I was captivated by some of the lines in the book, and I thought it was just the right tone to set the mood for this haunting story. I'll definitely be looking out for her work in the future.

The plot was so intriguing as well. I love a good camping trip story, and this one was just the right amount of creepy and cool. The atmosphere was the perfect backdrop for the story, and I could picture it oh so perfectly. Plus, it added so much to the progression of the story. I don't want to give away any details about the plot, because personally, it was so cool to spot every new development as it happened and not know what was coming next - and honestly, I really had no clue. Kuehn did such a good job moving the story along without giving any major hints of what was coming and managed surprising me in new and brilliant ways.

I only had a few slight issues with the story. While I liked the characters and totally felt with Ben, I did get confused with some of the motivations of certain characters. This story is a very psychological novel, and the characterization is deep. It's not surprise that the author is in the psychology feel. But sometimes I just felt too distant from the characters and why they were doing the things that they were doing. But I did really think Ben was a well done character.

Overall, I thought this was such an engrossing read. I read this in two sittings, and I feel like I instantly want to dive right back in to this story. If you're a fan of mystery and thrillers, this is totally for you. I would put this as much older YA fiction, so those that are into adult thrillers, would totally enjoy this as well, I think. I did feel some disconnect from it in the beginning and at the ending, but I still super recommend. Four crowns and an Ariel rating and a visit from Elsa because...they are climbing up a moutain and I get some Let It Go feels. XD
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,830 reviews227 followers
August 10, 2017
When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

5 stars

“Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That’s the allure of self-destruction.”

Ben Gibson has a lot to say about what happened on the trip to the mountain. His first trip out of Treyben and how it slowly became a nightmare. This is Ben’s confession about what happened on the mountain, how nine people went on a school trip and only five returned, and what he had to do for Rose. This novel is intense. It’s dark, twisty, and it doesn’t put a smile on my face. Stephanie Kuehn is gifted with writing loathsome characters who go through horrific events. This novel is unsettling and I feel unsure of myself and the characters. I question their intentions and what really happened. Was everything I just read true or was it all a lie? This is my second Kuehn novel and once again, I’m amazed at her talent. Yes, this is YA, but it doesn’t read like YA. Kuehn has the ability to write novels for a target audience that tiptoe into the adult genre. Her content is dark, barren, emotionless, and helpless. She puts you into the head of our confessor, Ben, and she shows us how hopeless a lot of these teens were when they went onto the mountain and how they remained hopeless after it.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75

“Be humble,” he said to us. “That’s the only way to survive out there.”

There is a huge cast of characters for this novel. There’s Ben, our lead protagonist, who we quickly learn is behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Rose. There’s Rose, a character who can be cruel and is constantly looking for the worst in humanity. Dunc and Archie, two friends who seem to constantly be getting drunk or high. There’s Shelby and Clay, two characters who are there and seem to be going through a lot of personal issues. There’s Avery, a girl who has a crush on Ben. Tomas, Rose’s twin brother and Ben’s least favorite person. Mr. Howe, the teacher who is chaperoning the trip and who wants to help Ben. I don’t won’t to tell you anything about any of these characters, especially Ben. I think it’s best to go into this novel absolutely blind to the characters’ pasts and personal motivations.

Character Scale: 4.5

The Villain- There are many villains in this story, but I think it’s up to the individual reader to decide who was in the wrong and who was in the right. Everyone has their own motivations, but were their motivations justifiable? That’s the question you have to ask yourself and keep in mind while reading this novel.

Villain Scale: 5

There’s a chapter in this novel where everything that goes wrong could possibly go wrong and it was one of the most intense chapters I’ve read in a YA novel. As much as I disliked a lot of these characters and questioned their motives and actions, I really wanted to see them make it off the mountain and I was rooting for them.

I recommend this novel to fans of YA who are looking for an intense psychological thriller or suspense novel. I also recommend it for YA readers who want to read something darker, but aren’t ready for the adult genre. I think Kuehn’s novels are a great bridge between YA thriller and adult thriller because her novels touch on a lot of darker themes.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: It’s a creepy cover, but it’s nothing fantastic. It fits the mood and tone of the novel, but it doesn’t catch my eye.

Thank you, First to Read and Dutton Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,651 followers
September 21, 2017
2.5 stars

The bookish community adores Kuehn’s books so much that I just keep trying. When I Am Through with You is my third attempt (following Charm & Strange and The Smaller Evil), and at this point I’m finally accepting that Kuehn’s books just aren’t for me.

On the positive side, When I Am Through with You was the most explicable of the three Kuehn books I’ve read. This time, I wasn’t left with the feeling that the whole book had just whooshed right over my head, and that was certainly nice. The survivalist plot will be exciting if you’re into that, which I sometimes am, but exclusively when I’m attached to the characters.

When I Am Through with You is from the perspective of Ben Gibson. He’s a pushover to the degree that he makes Hamlet look like a badass. His girlfriend Rose walked up to him one day and told him they were going to be a couple, and he was just like “okay.” When another girl offers sex, he takes her up on it, in the middle of the woods, despite having a girlfriend. The only brain he appears to have is in his penis. The exciting bit is that you know Ben’s in jail and he did something awful to Rose, but you don’t know what. Unfortunately I didn’t care about Ben or Rose at all.

None of the kids camping really interested me, actually. And I find it really interesting that all three of the Kuehn books I’ve read have been male POVs, and the female characters have all been written like a straight, male author would write them. I don’t really enjoy reading books by most straight men, so it’s not surprising that When I Am Through with You left me cold. I also hadn’t realized this was first in a series, so it did feel very unresolved at the end. I will not be back for book two.

If you like survival stories and male POV, I’d recommend When I Am Through with You without reservation. Kuehn’s got a lot of talent absolutely, and I’d recommend her books to readers who aren’t me for sure.
Profile Image for Laurie Flynn.
Author 6 books1,076 followers
September 29, 2017
I honestly can't remember the last time I read a book so simultaneously tense, shocking, and unputdownable. Brilliant, tautly paced, intense, disturbing, riveting. Also, the writing is unbelievably nuanced and sharp. WHEN I AM THROUGH WITH YOU is truly a superb read that I'll be recommending to everyone.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
August 15, 2017
This one reminded me a lot of Complicit, which is my favorite of Kuehn's books. But like all of her books, it promises and delivers upon being dark, twisted, and disturbing.

A bad trip through the mountains and a load of dead bodies pile up...and we get it all from the point of view of Ben, who killed his long-term girlfriend Rose, from juvenile detention. A delicious thriller.
Profile Image for viktoria.
214 reviews57 followers
May 26, 2022
I have very mixed feelings about this book.

On one hand, holy crap baskets, Ben, you poor baby. I desperately want to cuddle you in a blanket, give you some hot chocolate, and schedule you for the intensive therapy you really, really freaking need, you poor abused and neglected baby who tries and fails so hard. I really appreciated how complex his characterization was, and everyone's was. Because as much as I felt for him, I also had plenty of occasions of "Really, Ben, really? You're making that life choice," and "Dude, way to be a douche," so it wasn't just a mindless tragedy-jerker, either. Kudos to Kuehn for really presenting the "hey, I killed my girlfriend, and you'll see how I could do it from a psychological standpoint and believe it, yet you'll genuinely feel for me" story right.

On the other hand, I spent the last third of the book going, "When is the girlfriend going to die already? Commme onnn, do iitttt. There's like fifty ways you could've already killed her." Then, I was shocked when I checked the page count towards the end and saw it was only 304 pages. I would've guessed it was at least a hundred pages longer. There are definitely some parts of the story that felt a little bulky to me, and while it was technically in the fast-paced range, it also kind of dragged in parts.

But, then again on that third mutant hand, the characterization was on point, probably partially because of those things.

tl;dr: In my heart, this is is probably more of a 3, but because of the characterization and technical, I'll do it as a 3.5 bumped up to 4.

P.S. for diversity representation, Ben has chronic migraines from a traumatic brain injury, and takes medications for it as well as deals with major obstacles because of it.

P.P.S. As much as I hated Ben's mother, I think I hated his bio dad almost equally, if not more. Wtf, jerkface.
Profile Image for QuietlyKat.
469 reviews
August 5, 2017
As often happens with me, I just don't know how to rate When I Am Through With You. I need to keep this short though, as I'm leaving on vacation in the morning and need to get to sleep.

There is a lot going on in this book. The characters are complex and multifaceted. Many of them are dark and have experienced trauma leaving them messed up and broken. I usually enjoy and gravitate to characters and stories like this. The way the characters were written was well done but... it almost felt like too much. Individually and as couples, they felt real but it felt like a stretch to have so many deep, dark traumas amongst such a small group of high school students.

The story itself was compelling and riveting. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book. At times I was so anxious to know what would happen, I would feel a bit irritated and simply wanted to skip ahead.

At 70% the main character has to make a really hard choice. I didn't buy the choice he made. At all. It didn't feel totally out of character but the author didn't sell it in a way that made me believe. I was so frustrated by how unbelievable it felt that I almost dnf'd at that point. Continuing on was worthwhile until 98%, when that same character made another choice that I did not buy. Again, I just couldn't believe he'd have made that choice. To me it just didn't make any sense. There were plenty of other times that he made poor choices with which I had no problem, that I totally understood and which felt right and believable for his character. The choices at 70% and 98% didn't feel organic to me.

Would I recommend this book? Honestly, I don't know. The characters and plot are intriguing, dark and captivating... Maybe others would see something I missed and those choices that threw me so hard would make sense and feel right.
Profile Image for Jamie Canaves.
847 reviews256 followers
July 24, 2019
Starts With A Murderer’s Confession… (TW past attempted murder suicide, discussions/ past domestic abuse mentions)

Ben Gibson starts by telling us he murdered his girlfriend, as he’s currently in juvenile detention, and takes us through the story. While this one started off by giving me vibes of the show You, it quickly turned into something else filled with twists, reveals, explorations of trauma and mental illness, and a reminder that I have zero desire to go camping. I’m not saying much on plot because for me I really enjoyed just starting off with Ben telling me what he’d done and then letting him walk me through the whole thing. I will say that I really enjoyed the audiobook–I recommend it if you liked the show You‘s style of Joe narrating. Just note it’s a different character–and this one works well for fans of whydunnit and YA relationships.

--from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...
Profile Image for Bookscamilla.
65 reviews3 followers
June 13, 2021
This book is about a school camping trip gone wrong

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook. I liked the plot and this definitely kept me on the edge of my seat with its twists and turns

What I didn’t like or rather questioned was their reaction to the whole situation. I don’t think it matched the situation they were in
Profile Image for Kristy.
903 reviews12 followers
August 27, 2019
This was a great, addicting, tense thriller. Kuehn is a great, complex writer and doesn't get enough attention!

This is mature YA, featuring dark themes and teen characters who have sex like they're in an HBO series or something.
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