I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I can weed out the crap and hopefully find some surprising gems. Here's hoping!
I don't know if I should call this one and a half stars because I didn't hate it straight away or minus one star for luring me into a false sense of security. The beginning of this book gave me an inoffensive - if somewhat formulaic - introduction to the story and characters. I can feel my standards slipping the more I read these new adult books because not offending me seems to be rapidly becoming a reason for an extra star. However, it was only a matter of time before the usual slut-shaming started to creep in, making it increasingly impossible for me to care for our formulaic protagonists.
It's the same old story.
He was a boy, she was a girl.
Can I make it any more obvious?
They were abused, love saves the day.
What more can I say?
Well, okay. Love doesn't quite save the day but if I mention that, then I would have to talk about the stupid melodramatic cliffhanger ending that left me feeling cheated of a proper ending to this mess. I hate cliffhanger endings to books I didn't like. It's not as if I'm going to read the sequel. But I feel like I should read it. It aggravates me that I can't say a very final goodbye to these silly, recycled characters. It aggravates me even more to know that they're out there somewhere, living on in another book and probably annoying someone else with their silly, recycled nonsense.
Predictably, both Callie and Kayden have issues. Kayden was physically abused by his father and Callie sexually abused by her brother*. These are both very serious issues and I have no intention of making light of them. But the book, predictably, handles both issues unsuccessfully and simplifies them into a story about romance and (as Rose pointed out) awkward "healing" sex. I can see why some people love this book because it moves at a breakneck pace from one melodramatic event to another but the use of shock tactics to keep the reader's attention wasn't enough for me and lacked any kind of sensitivity for the serious issues being addressed.
But the real problem that ruined this novel for me? The thing that turned it from a silly, predictable issue-book into one I really hated? Dum, dum, dum... everyone meet Daisy. Put your hands together for the latest throwaway "slut" Kayden uses and casts aside. Because anyone who wears that little clothing can't possibly be hiding any feelings. I mean, where would she put them?
Look, I have no problem with people using each other for casual sex. The Rolling Stones have made decades of hits off of doing just that. But there are two problems I do have here. One, the separating of women into two categories: 1) usable (i.e. "slutty" and wears revealing clothes) and 2) not to be used (i.e. virginal and innocent). And also the way Kayden looks down on Daisy while they are still sleeping together. Am I supposed to like a guy who smiles to a woman's face but holds such contempt for her the minute she turns away? Am I supposed to feel sorry for Callie when she calls Daisy the "super slutty girlfriend"? Because I don't. These weren't easy characters for me to find sympathy for, even with the serious issues they had to deal with.
This is the end of the road for me and this author. I'm sorry but I don't like books where I can predict every plot turn, every scene, every sentence... it was like when I watch one of the movies I've seen a million times; I could speak the words with the characters. The handling of the issues was predictable. The progression of the romance was predictable. Even the "surprise" ending was predictable. No more, thank you.
*"her brother's friend" - I shouldn't write reviews at 2am.