Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

We Were Restless Things

Rate this book

From debut author Cole Nagamatsu comes an atmospheric contemporary fantasy about three teens coming of age in the wake of a mysterious death.

Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles away from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a strange accident, and in the months since, his friends and family have struggled to make sense of it. But Link's close friend Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find. And what's more, someone claiming to be Link has been contacting her, warning Noemi to stay out of the forest.

As these secrets become too heavy for Noemi to shoulder on her own, she turns to Jonas, her new housemate, and Amberlyn, Link's younger sister. All three are trying to find their place—and together, they start to unravel the truth: about themselves, about the world, and about what happened to Link.

Unfolding over a year and told through multiple POVs and a dream journal, We Were Restless Things explores the ways society shapes our reality, how we can learn to love ourselves and others, and the incredible power of our own desires.

416 pages, Hardcover

First published October 6, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Cole Nagamatsu

2 books37 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
130 (15%)
4 stars
187 (22%)
3 stars
288 (33%)
2 stars
190 (22%)
1 star
55 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 299 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,201 reviews40.7k followers
November 28, 2022
After falling in love with this spectacular cover and being intrigued with the promising paranormal, mystical plot, I was sold! I was definitely ready to go blind but in the middle of somewhere my mind screamed; “this is not working for me. This is not for me, this is book! I should break up with it ASAP! I’m slowly dunking into a mud and I cannot move my body!”

Here are the facts: I was one of the most patient readers who are never afraid of long, boring, suffocating reads. But this time I gave up because I had no idea where the story is going or what’s the author’s purpose to write it anyway.

It started like a dysfunctional family’s introduction; Noemi’s coping problem with her step brother, her eerie communication with Link Miller ( they’re texting each other and Link Miller already drowned on magical lake in the woods but the authorities didn’t believe in magic and they decided he drowned in the dry land! ) attracted my attention because anything crazy, irregular, illogical always pick my interest. And Noemi thinks Link is killed and she also keeps another big secret.

So I can hear you ask me what’s wrong with me. Isn’t it crazy enough for my own taste? The story started great but too many boring, aimless, flat characters, their irritating dialogues gave me second thoughts. Instead of Noemi, none of the characters are connectable. And in the middle of somewhere story’s direction lost in the mud or the secret, non-existed lake and drowned like Link Miller. It got slow down, more boring, more nonsense and I felt like I was Alice stuck in a literature Madland with triple sized big letters which try to devour me. As soon as suffocation took the driver seat of my bored to death mind, I finally decided to stop! It was enough!

Let’s stay around %60 of the book I pushed dnf button and I don’t regret it. This is not the story I expected to read and I already lost my patience.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire fro sharing this ARC in exchange my honest review. I wish I could like it more but this time story telling of the book didn’t work with me.

Profile Image for Jessica.
325 reviews366 followers
November 14, 2020
We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu is a very unique novel.

We Were Restless Things took me a while to get into, but once I got into it I was hooked. This is a very unique story. There is the mystery of what actually happened, the complicated relationship between the characters and so many revelations. One of the characters is asexual, which is a topic that isn’t usually discussed. I found this very interesting especially being in that character’s head.

We Were Restless is told from multiple points of view which really added to the story.

I listened to the audiobook. Sophie Amoss and Tom Picasso did a good job narrating. At first the narration seemed pretty dry, but as the book went on they used more emotion so I enjoyed the audiobook. I think based on the story I would’ve preferred it not in audiobook.

Thank you NetGalley and Recorded Books/RB Media for We Were Restless Things.

Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews803 followers
October 6, 2020
10/06/2020: Happy pub day to this gorgeous novel!

If I could make you happy, I might not deserve to be alone.

This book is hard for me to encapsulate because it's a story I don't see very often in YA.

We Were Restless Things is not plot-driven. The mystery of Link's drowning-on-land unravels not through clever detective work or unexpected twists, but rather in the strange minutiae of the lives of the people he left behind. Noemi, the prickly girl he loved. Jonas, the boy who never knew him, now living in Noemi's house. Amberlyn, Link's sweet-tempered sister.

This is a slow-burn story propelled by characters and atmosphere. I found Cole Nagamatsu's prose so beautifully evocative: the moon is eyelash thin, while the strange lake sprawls huge as memory. Worry and insecurity sow thistles in one's lungs. Each word feels precisely placed—and what the book lacks in action, it certainly makes up in elegiac lyricism.

He was unraveled memory, a history and a heart broken open, left new and naked.

If you've read A House at the Bottom of a Lake, I think you'll be familiar with the peculiar dread that haunts Noemi and her friends (and in turn, me) as they venture back to the disappearing lake where Link died.

This book also reminds me of Sarah Rees Brennan (the Lynburn Legacy series in particular) and Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Boys. Here, the characters live in the fictional town of Shivery, where strange creatures dwell in the forests and special festivals are held every winter solstice. Our protagonist is a quirky girl who takes no bullshit (like Kami and Blue), and she's accompanied by flawed, angry, insecure boys (who've definitely taken a few pages out of the Jared Lynburn/Ronan Lynch handbook).

I'm not opposed to meandering, character-driven stories, but it's ultimately a 3-star read for me because I didn't really love or connect with any of the characters. (Blue and her boys didn't do it for me, and neither do Noemi and hers—sorry!) I also found it baffling and a little unnecessary that literally ALL the dude characters in the book catch some form of feels for Noemi—including

Last thing I'll say is that it was pretty damn cool to read an asexual character (Noemi's ace) and have some wlw goodness on the side too.

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
August 31, 2020
This book feels good on paper: an emotional premise, eerie writing, representation, and an excellent ending that ties into thematic ideas. I only wanted more ensemble cast, and maybe a bit less of whatever was going on with the romance.

We Were Restless Things follows the mysterious death of Link Miller by drowning… in the middle of the woods. In various ways, they all hurt from this: Noemi as she grieves for the boy she had feelings for, Amberlyn as she grieves her brother, Gaetan as he grieves his best friend, Lyle her friend, and new kid Jonah as he tries to find a place in their group.

The indisputable best part of this book is the amazing imagery. This book was eerie and the more fantastical chapters are wonderfully written. They remind me of the best of Maggie Stiefvater.

Noemi is asexual. This arc was by far my favorite in the book; she processes her sexuality in both healthy and unhealthy ways, depending on the time. The way her feelings about herself and more specifically, how people would perceive her, impacted her relationships hit me hard. When this came up between her and Jonah, it originally struck me as a romantic arc, but it’s really not; the focus remains on her development. I wanted a bit more out of her ending, if anything.

Some very solid positives over here. Unfortunately, this was not a perfect reading experience for me.

First of all, it’s a book that in structure does not pick up until around 50%. Until then, these characters are essentially just getting to know each other. This isn’t technically a problem. On its own.

But besides Noemi, none of these characters feel as if they have a significant or resonant character arc. Who are these characters? I don’t feel as if I quite know. But We Were Restless Things left me craving… more from its ensemble cast.

As we’re talking about the characters, I want to bring up romance. The dynamic between side characters Amberlyn and Lyle (yes, this is sapphic content) is solid and sweet. The other romantic dynamics… were another area. Noemi is, over the course of this book, technically lusted after by three different guys, one dead. Both of her romantic arcs are… frustrating.

Jonah and Noemi are a well-written couple, except when the premise of their relationship is so fundamentally unromantic. Yes, I understand that two stepsiblings who know each other from childhood are very different from two people who meet for the first time at seventeen. I get that. But as someone who has a stepbrother, one, this entire trope is just nasty, and two, this book uncomfortably leans into that element of siblinghood.

On a more positive note, it’s interesting that this book that was comped to The Raven Cycle also contains two main characters whose relationship is not based on kissing, though for very different reasons. It’s one of those accidents that would still make a wonderful essay about parallels.

To be completely fair to this book in criticizing it, I think I partially have shifted in what genres I prefer over the past couple of years. Had I read this at seventeen, high off my Raven Cycle phase, I’m fairly sure I would have enjoyed my experience far more. So if that’s you… this might very well be worth a try. It’s well-written, and though I wanted more from four of the five leads, they’re all likable.

This had some good parts. I just do not think I was the target audience.

Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | About |
Profile Image for Melanie (mells_view).
1,710 reviews334 followers
October 6, 2020
If only you could hold on to light, climb it out of the unknown.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I’m not 100% sure I understand what I just read, but I will say that I finished WWRT quietly crying. It’s haunting, magical, and a little bit odd. The writing has this poetic feel to it. Like each line is meaningful, even if you’re not quite sure what exactly it’s meant to mean, it means something. I feel like We Were Restless Things will be a story that people interpret and feel differently. There are so many difficult topics covered, some causally and some deeply, but still touched on and it’s interesting the way I could relate to each character in small ways.

I don’t know what to say about this book other than that I enjoyed it, and it made me feel things. Like my little gray soul kind of shivered reading this.

Profile Image for Hilly.
701 reviews1,265 followers
April 9, 2021
3.5 stars

I don't really know how I feel about this book. It's one of those cases where the last portion ruined the whole book for me. I was so ready to give it four stars, but alas~I just really disliked where it went (both with the plot and the ace rep).

I'm not usually one for this type of book, but a thing I absolutely loved is how character-driven it is. I was very interested in knowing more about the characters and the dynamics between them after finally realizing that this book was less about the murder mystery and more about the characters, and this book delivered on that front. The whole group reminds me a lot of the one in The Raven Boys.

Before reaching the last third I was so intrigued by the mystery. The writing, the atmosphere, and the dream journal gave me such pretty (but also kind of creepy) magical realism vibes. The descriptions of the forest and the lake made me fall in love with the concept of this book. It was a bummer that the reveal wasn't at all what I expected. At first I found it to be simplistic, but after a while it veered into dumb territory.

Another thing I was LOVING was the ace representation (btw there's also a cute sapphic couple!). It's the first time I read about an ace character, but I've actually been wanting to do it for a long while. For the majority of this book I thought the way the topic was dealt with was amazing. The conversations around it, the actual rep where Noemi just felt it as a part of herself without having to justify it or change for other people...
and then the book throws everything in a dumpster fire.
Chapter 26 was a mess I WISH I COULD UNREAD.

Don't let the synopsis fool you into believing this one is centered around the mystery of Link's death. I would recommend it more if you're in the mood for a YA contemporary with a little magic on the side. This book is atmospheric but also heavily character-driven and slow-paced, so if you enjoy knowing the characters really well then this book is for you.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews876 followers
September 30, 2020
Unfortunately this did not work for me, it couldn't hold my attention. It was boring, without any obvious direction, the characters were flat and annoying. This was nothing I expected from the blurb which was so promising.

As always, keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and you might have a completely different experience!

ARC provided by the publisher - thank you!
Profile Image for Kelsea Yu.
Author 7 books122 followers
October 15, 2020
Oh my gosh. This story was absolutely BRILLIANT. It was one of those instances where I (foolishly) figured, hey I'll just start this story and read a bit before bed.

A few hours later... OOPS. I could not set this book down! It is definitely a book readers should go into with the right kinds of expectations. This is an atmospheric story with ghosts, mild fantasy elements, and really well-written character dynamics. There is a mystery element, but the story is slow-paced, primarily character-driven, and hauntingly beautiful. I found it suspenseful start to finish.

My two favorite parts of the story were this. First, the writing. Cole Nagamatsu writes the kind of story that's so easy to get pulled completely into, where you feel like you're there right alongside the characters. I loved the haunted woods, the impossible lake, and the strangeness of it all. Second, one of the main characters is asexual, and the way Cole incorporate's identity and discussion into the story is absolutely perfect.

There was one squick element that I find a little difficult to accept in stories, but even that feels well incorporated into the story. Overall, this was a beautiful, dreamy, haunted story that's perfect for autumn! I'd recommend it for fans of slow, atmospheric ghost stories like Watch Over Me. 4.5 stars!

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for a free advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,806 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 11, 2020
Thank you to SourceBooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All thoughts are my own.

Well this is a first. I usually don't DNF, but I've been thinking about all the books I want to read lately and I won't waste anymore time reading books that just don't grab my attention. We Were Restless Things has an extremely interesting premise. I knew that I was walking into a contemporary fantasy; however, it was so dry. I'm more of plot driven narrative type of reader and this is character driven. And that's perfectly fine. However, when your characters are dry/boring it's hard to connect to the story. I probably made it about 40% of the way through and I just realized that the story was headed in a different direction. It was less focused on Link and his drowning in this fantastical lake and more focused on the relationship dynamic between these dysfunctional main characters. And to be quite honest none of the characters felt well developed. I'm still not quite sure what the purpose of this book was to be honest. It had good potential but it wasn't enough to convince me to keep going. From what I did read, I would say that this book has trigger warnings for death and abuse.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
929 reviews800 followers
February 7, 2021
1.5-2 stars

I spent most of the reading experience debating DNFing this book, to give you an idea of what I felt about it. Yikes. Cool premise and beautiful cover, but it really, really didn’t work for me. At the end of the story my overwhelming takeaway was...what was the point? Apologies for the harsh words, but after 400 pages it felt like a wasted reading experience. (Just my personal opinion. I’m usually not this harsh but am a bit salty at the hours wasted reading this.)

Definitely more character driven than plot driven. The speculative premise of the mystical lake does not really carry the book or matter to most of the story, so if you’re coming for those elements—like I was—keep that in mind.

And I remain confused as to why we decided to make one of female POVs have to deal with so much infatuation and receive so much male gaze/male romantic obsession...despite her admitting to the characters over and over again that she’s asexual and not interested in that kind of love. (That last bit struck me as quite uncomfortable, but would be interested to know how an own voices asexual reviewer would interpret those elements.)

Unsure if I’ll expand this into a formal review or not, tbd.
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 4 books2,239 followers
August 22, 2020
"...the days I didn't see you at all, but I knew you were still out there, and I was so glad that you lived in Shivery and in the world and in my life..."

I was really excited to be provided this arc that was part mystery and part fantasy. It's a true contemporary fantasy, in that it had mild fantasy elements but reads like a contemporary for 95% of the time. The writing is pretty, if odd at times. Toward the start of the book there's a description of kissing so long "her mouth tasted like raw chicken looked" and I just have no idea what that means. But in other parts of the novel, especially sections discussing dreams, the writing is very pretty.

I'm not going to give you a synopsis, cause you're on Goodreads already, you know what this book is about. I will say that I could have done without the fantasy element of this book--but that's a massive part of the novel, Julie...yeah, I know. But, there was a lot going on in this novel without the fantasy element and it distracted from where I wanted to be.

"He kissed her because she made him feel seen and significant, and he wanted her to feel the same way but didn't know how else to do it."

This book has an ace main character who is in a romantic relationship and there's a lot of discussion about what that means for them and their partner. I am not ace and so I cannot speak to the representation but I loved the on-page representation and discussion. There's also an f/f relationship with POV characters that I can appreciate. A lot of the discussions that take place are important, aka toxic masculinity, male insecurity over body image, sexuality, loss, grief, unrequited feelings, betrayal, guilt, etc. All of these are dealt with in ways that I found to be thoughtful but again these are not things I've lived through so take that with a grain of salt.

It was a 3.5 stars read but it fell flat in the whole fantasy aspect of the novel and some of the ways the characters spoke to/didn't communicate with one another. Still, I can see this being some people's perfect brand of fantasy/contemporary mash-up.

CW: loss of a sibling, suicide, self-harm, grief, domestic abuse, child abuse, abandonment by parent, obsession/stalking, bullying, and physical violence.
Heavy topics: the death of a friend and sibling, abuse by a parent, abandonment by a parent, homelessness, sexuality (exploration and discussion of).
Profile Image for Krysti.
357 reviews126 followers
April 9, 2020
A lyrical and haunting debut. WE WERE RESTLESS THINGS is a captivating new contemporary fantasy novel in which a boy is found drowned on dry land in the middle of the forest. His death is ruled an accident, but then his friends discover an impossible lake in the woods that seems to appear and vanish at will. A lake that calls to them, drawing them ever closer, forcing them to try to uncover its dark secrets before it can claim another.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 5 books24 followers
October 5, 2020
I received a free arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.

I really wanted to love this book. For the first 1/3 of the book, I was so intrigued. The mystery of finding out how this boy drowned in the middle of the forest had me enthralled until the relationship took over the story. I didn’t care for any of the characters except for one, and the romance between the step-siblings bothered me a lot. Also, while I liked the side characters and their relationship, I really don’t know what their purpose was in the story.

On a positive note, I loved the asexual representation in this book. I’ve never read from/about a character that I related to so much. The asexual conversations between the two main characters were very well-done, but I wish that would have been the extent of their “relationship.”
Profile Image for Cassie.
343 reviews65 followers
Want to read
September 16, 2020
This cover? Truly one of the prettiest covers I have ever seen.
The premise also sounds really intriguing!

I'm basically here for all of it fnjfsngjdfg
Profile Image for Kristin Sledge.
330 reviews26 followers
April 23, 2020
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for and eARC in exchange for an honest review.

We Were Restless Things follows people left behind by a tragic drowning of Link Miller. Noemi, his crush and one of his best friends: she works through Links mysterious death. It's so mysterious because Link was found miles from the nearest body of water. Noemi is receiving text messages from an unknown number claiming to be Link. What secrets could Noemi be keeping that could help solve this mystery? We also follow Amberlynn, Link's sister as she gets to know more about Noemi to feel still connected to a piece of her brother. Jonas, newcomer to town, has moved in with his father and his girlfriend, who just so happens to be Noemi's mom. Jonas learns how to blend into this small town while still leaving and impression on those who he finds impressive. What will be uncovered as we follow these characters throughout the span of a year and what is hidden in the woods?

I adore everything about this book. So many sexualities, backgrounds, and personalities are represented here that you cannot walk away from this story without connecting with ATLEAST one of the delightful characters. They very much act their age, in they are wishy washy with each other at times, but what teenager isn't at times? The pacing is excellent for a story that takes place over a year's worth of time! Often you have a drawn out novel that covers just a few days or even weeks. I really appreciated that the author and her characters took their time to process their emotions/connections in a healthy way.

My one teensy itty bitty gripe about this book is that once the twist is revealed it just doesn't give me enough time or even backstory for me to connect with it like I did the rest of the characters. This caused me to feel a little cheated out of a great opportunity, but overall I found it still an enjoyable bit of the story.

In conclusion, five enthusiastic stars from me, I will be recommending this book to anyone that will listen. I highly recommend this story for anyone 13 and up as these characters do explore themselves (nothing graphic) and some of the subject matter is a little intense for younger readers. I'll be looking to pick up a copy when this gem comes out and hope you'll do yourself the favor of doing the same.
Profile Image for Stacey-Lea.
180 reviews19 followers
September 19, 2020
We Were Restless Things is a fantastical tale of a group of teenagers wading through life in the wake of a friends mysterious death in the forest of a small town. Our main lead, Noemi, finds herself experiencing some strange circumstances, starting with the fact she's recieving text messages from an unknown number claiming to be Link, the boy who drowned in a forest with no body of water. As she navigates between reality and her dreams that seem to be coming to life she begins to trust and rely on those closest to her, each processing and dealing with their own grief.

Going into this book I was expecting more of a dark fantasy thriller type of story but what I found was a lyrical dark fantasy. Much alike the writing of Neil Gaiman, I often found myself thinking of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, though there is a reason I couldn't quite push it to that four star rating. For the only part of this story I could not connect with was the main relationship. Not wanting to give spoilers this relationship simply made me a little uncomfortable and was the hardest thing for me to believe in (which is saying a lot when we're talking about a peculiar forest that seems to have a life of its own). While it did help discuss the concept of asexuality, which wouldn't have been possible without a relationship forming, I just couldn't take in.

For the most part I really enjoyed my time reading We Were Restless Things and that cover is still just so damn beautiful!

*ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review*
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,568 reviews259 followers
September 27, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu looks and sounds excellent. However, it just wasn't for me. I considered giving it up several times, but once I made it to the 60% mark I figured I might as well just keep going. In a way, it reminds me of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, but it does not have anything that makes that all time favorite series of mine work. This is far to slow and boring for me to become invested and very little actually happens. I wasn't interested let alone invested in any of the characters either, and given that it's not a plot-driven story this didn't work for me either. I will say though that I certainly appreciated having the chance to meet another ace character, though. That doesn't happen nearly enough.
Profile Image for Bertie (LuminosityLibrary).
471 reviews109 followers
January 26, 2021
That this book took me three months to complete probably tells you a lot of what you need to know. The thing is the author is obviously incredibly talented, the writing was often beautiful, and the atmosphere was immaculate. There just wasn't anything else I truly enjoyed. I will say I listened to this as an audiobook, and although the narrators' voices fit the book they also added to the slow, dry, melancholic feeling that I didn't enjoy. The mystery is interesting, but it takes well over halfway through for anything to actually develop on that front. For the most part, this is a slow, character-focused contemporary that revolves around Noemi. I feel like I know Noemi better than I know myself now, and I don't like her. She was multi-dimensional but she was also frustrating and dislikeable. I enjoy dislikeable characters most of the time but not when they're rude, secretive, and aloof for no real reason. Sure she was a little bit more likeable by the end but the character development wasn't as strong as I would have liked. The fact that every boy in this book was in love with her just added to the frustrating feeling. We can't mention that without saying that the person she ended up with was her step-brother! They didn't grow up together but it's still weird and unnecessary! Especially considering the parents were basically non-existent characters. They could have been business owners who co-owned the inn and nothing would have changed at all, so why make these characters step-siblings? I will say the representation in the book was good. I liked how Noemi's asexuality was discussed, and the background sapphic relationship was also a nice touch. Overall, I think people who like atmospheric contemporary with strange slightly paranormal touches would enjoy this, but be aware it's slow and if you don't enjoy the characters there's not much else to keep you hooked.

CW: death, grief, drowning, child abuse (mention), physical abuse (mention), bullying, slight sexual content.

If you enjoy diverse fantasy & sci-fi you should check out my Blog! You could also follow me on Twitter or Instagram.
Profile Image for Jessie.
37 reviews
April 23, 2020
(I understand this review is not very composed- I will refine it once I have arranged my thoughts)

Thank you to Net Galley for sending me this E-book in exchange for an honest review.

I do not know where to begin with this review.
The plot-line, if I can even call it that, was erratic and purposeless to the point that it felt like you were reading two different novels.
On one side, there is the strange forced breaking and moulding of relationships that seem invisible at the fantastical points in the book but then suddenly consume entire chapters without direction. Besides this there is also a very confused narrative surrounding asexuality, one moment declaring it normal until you turn the page and find it being confused for one of the main character's 'fear of disappointing' another. This did not sit well with me, especially when some of the characters were actively voicing their distaste for sexual intimacy and then being condoled into doing it nonetheless.

The other sections of the novel were spent in Noemi's dream journal entries alongside the group's many encounters within the forest and around the a 'sentient' lake that chooses when to exist. For these I was even more put off. There are precious few moments surrounding Link's death, he became merely a plot device to get the obsession with mysterious forest, after which he was all but forgotten except for random text messages and guilty thoughts.The narrative was so disjointed it lead you to not care at all about any of the surreal elements - after all, for a blurb with so many references to Lincoln's death it doesn't half neglect it.

In short it just didn't make sense and I am at a loss for words to describe how much I didn't enjoy this. It became an unsettling, synthetic romance paired with weak magical realism that had no substance or value other than to tick a fantastical box.

I feel that this book possibly could have been saved if one 'side' of the story was given dominance or possibly if they both became better intertwined.
Profile Image for Fernanda (blueandtheravens).
154 reviews60 followers
December 21, 2020

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me an e-ARC of this book.


Lamentablemente este libro no me gusto como esperaba. Lo comencé con muchas expectativas por su premisa y al inicio me estaba gustando mucho, pero hacia la mitad la trama se volvió muy lenta y sentí que perdió el foco del misterio planteado, dejándolo como un detalle secundario en la historia.

Como digo, el inicio me cautivó al instante por la pluma de la autora y los personajes. Estos son los que más destaco de la novela, ya que están muy bien construidos y definidos con toda sus cualidades, miedos y anhelos, de modo que es posible conocerlos muy bien y empatizar con ellos. También quiero destacar la rica representación sexual y la forma en que se abordan estás temáticas, uno de los personajes es asexual y creo que la forma en que se aborda su autodescubrimiento es muy valiosa.

La trama es en mi opinión lo que falla, no sentí que estuviera bien ejecutada y llegado a la mitad del libro se me hizo muy difícil avanzar en la lectura. Al inicio se nos presenta un misterio que involucra un bosque con un lago y faro mágico, y allí es donde murió un chico del pueblo, dejando muchas dudas sobre que fue lo que le paso realmente. Esta premisa es muy intrigante, pero se va volviendo algo secundario que pierde fuerza.

Rescato la forma en que están construidos los personajes, las interacciones entre ellos y su desarrollo a lo largo de la novela, las temáticas importantes que se tocan como el autodescubrimiento y la superación de la perdida.
Profile Image for Renae.
1,013 reviews266 followers
January 13, 2022
The lonely spirit of a shrinking forest haunts the town of Shivery, Minnesota. Link Miller died in the woods just last summer, drowned even though he was miles from the nearest body of water. Now, a motley assemblage of local teens—Link’s best friend, his sister, his almost-maybe-prom-date—are trying to muddle through a new school year and their grief. But the woods are singing, and a vanishing lake draws them together time and time again.

We Were Restless Things is literary magical realism (aka my favorite very niche subgenre). Appropriate comp titles include Brenna Yovanoff’s Places No One Knows , Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, and the novels of Nova Ren Suma. Cole Nagamatsu’s debut novel joins these stories built on bizarre imagery, breathtaking prose, and subtly complex interpersonal relationships. I really wish this was a more popular style of fiction, although I understand that “soft-spoken YA about occasional encounters with a magic lake” is never going match the commercial success of a more traditional fantasy—nor should it. Regardless, I am so so pleased to have found this title during my library perusing.

I have a lot of favorite things about We Were Restless Things. But my favorite favorite thing is Nagamatsu’s beautiful, rich prose. The author’s use of metaphor and imagery is expertly applied—enough so that the entire book is eerie and wistful, but not so much that she takes two paragraphs to describe an action as simple as shading your eyes from the sun. I think that if you write a book about the aftermath of a teenage boy’s mysterious death in the woods, the more obvious approach is to write an emotionally charged fantasy thriller with tight, crisp prose that propels the reader forward. Instead, the novel is introspective and deliberate; the plot isn’t concerned so much with figuring out what happened to Link Miller as it is to exploring the still-living characters’ personalities and building up the overall atmosphere of the forest, the town, the very specific form grief Link left in his wake. We Were Restless Things is a very pretty book; I love pretty writing—and maybe because I’ve been reading commercial fiction for a few years, the style of this book was enchanting. (Obviously, there is nothing wrong with mainstream fiction; we do not go in for book snobbery here.)

“Okay, but what the book is it about?” a reader of this review may ask, with some irritation. I don’t know, friends. Nothing really happens in We Were Restless Things. This book is about Noemi, who feels that Link’s death is her fault and is desperate to push others away before they can reject her for her all-too-newly-discovered asexuality. It’s about Jonas, who’s new to town and unwittingly becomes friends with those closest to Link Miller—and who falls in love with Link’s own unrequited crush. It’s about Link’s sister, Amberlyn; Noemi’s best friend, Lyla; and about local problem child Gaetan, who doesn’t know how to be kind but secretly wishes he did. These five teens are bound together by memories of Link, the aftershocks of his death, and the unsettling feeling that he isn’t really gone. Not yet.

We Were Restless Things isn’t a ghost story, exactly. And it’s not a story about uncovering what happened to Link in the woods. Are there ghosts in this book? Sure. Does Nagamatsu reveal the exact details of Link Miller’s odd death? Yes, eventually. But that’s not what this is about, nor are those the elements Nagamatsu is focusing on. I suppose that at its very core, this is a story about growing up and figuring out what you want out of life—and how to be okay with yourself even when you mess up. And yes, there’s a haunted forest lake situation, too, and it’s important.

I never know how to review this kind of novel. The fact is that I will always and forever be a complete sucker for lyrical prose and deep-dives into the minds of complicated people. Throw in a couple of eldritch forest spirits, and I literally could not be happier. I dunno, folks. This book simply has my name on it. If the feudal patronage system were still alive and well, I’d probably commission a book very like this. (And since Cole Nagamatsu has done it here, I’m now saved the bother of trying and failing to write this kind of stuff myself.)

I do understand that a novel fueled by ~vibes~ isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’ve ever wished for the 21st century YA answer to Angela Carter’s short stories, I humbly suggest We Were Restless Things. Queer teens, vanishing lakes, prophetic dream journals, mystical antlered creatures emerging from the woods. I love love love this, all of it.

📌 . Blog | Review Database | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
Profile Image for Lauren.
526 reviews80 followers
October 15, 2020
A huge thanks to NetGalley, Cole Nagamatsu, and RB Media for providing me with an audio-ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

Wow. I honestly didn't know what to expect going into this book, but it intrigued me with the cover and the premise. It was definitely a ride and I liked it a lot more than I would have guessed. The characters in this book were fascinating to me and I loved watching their story unfold, though it was a slower story. This wasn't an action-packed story by any means, but it was perfect to listen to on audio. The description throughout was so vivid, I could actually envision what Noemi was dreaming and loved seeing her recreate her dreams with her friends in the forest.

There was Ace representation in this book and I feel like it was done properly, I loved seeing that discussion, It was such an important, powerful moment.

Jonas was a great character as well and I loved the dynamic he and Noemi created for themselves.

The story had a decent pace, though I will say the only thing that makes it not earn an additional star is that things wrapped up a little more nicely than I would have wanted. It was a good read though, and the perfect slightly spooky story for this time of year.
Profile Image for simone.
97 reviews122 followers
August 17, 2020
Overall, this book was beautiful. The writing and the mysterious atmosphere that lingered throughout the story is what drove me to continue.
I went into this book thinking that it was going to be heavily focused on the mystery but it ended up taking a back seat to the contemporary aspects. It felt like I was waiting the entirely of the book for the plot to pick up, which it never really did.
The characters were likable, though I only connected to a couple of them, and the diversity in sexuality was nice to see. I absolutely loved Noemi (though she definitely suffered from the basic ~quirky~ girl personality type).
Since I don't tend to love character-driven stories, I was left wanting more of the magic that was sprinkled within but overall, it was very enjoyable!

Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC to review!
Profile Image for Sam.
487 reviews83 followers
September 10, 2020
*I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


You could’ve been everything...but you weren’t.

I honestly had no idea how to feel, or even piece together my thoughts once I had finished this. On one hand, there were elements that I really enjoyed, and would even go so far as to say I loved. On the other, there was so much here that put me off that it was impossible for me to fully be immersed.

The magical aspects of the book- the lake and everything that comes with it- was wonderful. It was easily the best part of this novel. Strange, unsettling at times...it was exactly what I wanted and had expected. Unfortunately, the parts involving the lake were few and far between.

Most of the book felt like filler. A lot of wandering around and talking while nothing of relevance is actually happening. And then, there would be parts that made it look like the characters were going to actively pursue then mysteries of the lake but then...not? For some reason? For example, there’s a part where they had a clear opportunity to discover truths but then didn’t take it for seemingly no reason whatsoever other than to extend the page count. And from that point on, the opportunity was a constant and STILL it took them forever to actually pursue it.

None of the characters, apart from Gaetan, who I greatly enjoyed, did much for me. I didn’t dislike them, but I never felt anything. I think this could be in part because many times I was told things about their personalities through the perspective of another character without being shown. One example I can think of off the top of my head is when Jonas is talking about Noemi and says that at school, she goes out of her way to confront bullies, speak to kids who look lonely. And yet, I felt like none of that was ever reflected in any of her actions.

The (of course inevitable) romance between Jonas and Noemi I hated. Hate is a strong word, but it’s the truth. Firstly because I am so over these step sibling type romances, especially when another of the characters says that they look like one of those couples who could be cousins...yeah no thanks. Secondly because some of the things they did together were simply disgusting. Noemi at one point like...fed Jonas a cupcake from her own mouth? DIS.GUST.ING. I have no idea how you even do that, like if it just means she held it there for him using her teeth or like...she chewed and they made out? LET’S MOVE ON because I don’t want to think about that.

The other romance, a sapphic (yay!) romance I didn’t mind. I thought it was cute. Not much to say about it though, since it felt very backseat in comparison to everything else in the book.

That’s another aspect I enjoyed- the representation. Of course we have our sapphic romance, but Noemi is also asexual. I can’t speak on whether this representation is great, but the book talks about it at great length, and Noemi even mentions that this is just her own experience and can’t say whether it applies to everyone else.

While most of the book was boring, the ending was PERFECTION. It gave me everything I had hoped this book would be. Unfortunately it came far too late.

One thing I do want to say unrelated to the actual content is that the cover is amazing. Good job on that front!

This book wasn’t what I expected it to be, which was one more focused on the stranger elements. I’m not sure what type of person to recommend this to. Maybe it’s just one you’ll have to take a chance on and hope it works.
Profile Image for Aly.
2,615 reviews
September 14, 2020
2.5 stars
I thought this would be more fantasy, but it was surprisingly contemporary and the mystery around Link's death and the magical lake seemed to take a back seat to the relationship drama. Because of this, I felt like the plot was so slow and wanted more of the creepy things going on. There are ghosts and dreamed up creatures and people dying, why didn't we focus more on that?

Noemi is difficult to relate to, she almost comes across as neuro-divergent because of her difficulties socializing and relating to others, but that's never addressed. She can be too blunt and hurts people's feelings a lot. I did like that she wanted to protect her friends and went to lengths to do so.

Jonas was kind of a boring character. He just sort of exists, he gets bullied but doesn't stand up for himself, unless he totally loses it and gets expelled from school. He also invades Noemi's privacy more than once and tries to act like a 'nice guy'. I didn't think he and Noemi were good together and their drama was boring.

I think we really missed out on Amberlyn and Lyle's relationship, only seeing small glimpses of it. They were cute together but got little page time. I also would have like Gaeten to be more involved, he's probably the most complex character of the book.

The mystery and magic had a lot of potential, but sadly wasn't the main focus. The ending seemed resolved too easily and I wanted more of creepy Link and his ghost. There were also creatures that we didn't learn about that I think would have been cool.

This burned too slow and didn't focus on what I wanted it to. I did appreciate the LGBTQA rep and how asexuality was explained.

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Dayla.
2,067 reviews201 followers
December 8, 2020
2.5 Stars!

Okay so this book. This was one of those books that attempted to be beautiful both in writing and in meaning and in some ways, it succeeded. In others, it just came off as awkward and full of tropes that I haven’t seen in a novel in a while.

The beauty of this book comes from the mystery of how Lincoln died. It also comes from the magic of the forest that lives in the heart of this story, haunting every page and character. The premise was unique enough that it held my attention captive while I tried to understand what was happening.

But with the beautiful descriptions and mystery aside, we’re left with three narrators in a story that probably didn’t need three. Especially when the obvious MC’s perspective was given in first person, which admittedly was a genius way of setting her apart from the other two. But let’s be honest: she didn’t need anything else to set her apart.

I know that characters aren’t supposed to always be positive and happy and whatever, but this character was a bitch and sometimes I didn’t quite understand why. She just seemed like a bitch for the hell of it. We learn something about her that is important and awesome to see in YALit, but sometimes I felt like the author used that as an excuse for her MC’s bitchiness.

But somehow, despite her behaviour, all of these boys wanted her. She was that manic pixie dream girl who actually got a speaking role. Didn’t we leave that trope in the past?

In all, the plot was interesting and unique and would have received more love (in my opinion) if the MC had been written differently. Also, can we talk about how one character got a redemption even though he literally did nothing for it?

Happy reading!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 299 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.