Ok, here’s the thing. I’m pissed. Proper, unadulterated, pissed-off mood. I’m still screaming and lashing internally in frustration at this book. Now I understand why I stopped reading high-school romance!
And it’s not just about the eye-rolling amount of petty drama, or the glaring stereotypes, or the amount of times immature people in that school mentioned ‘whore’, ‘slut’ or ‘ho’ to get at others (seriously, don’t they have anything better?) but gawd! The sheer STUPIDITY of the main characters just… bloody… decimated… my… brain!
Long story short, Zoey (our female MC) lives in this town where everybody worships the local football team. One of the players (called Jake) had touched her without her consent, so very sensibly she reports him and he consequently gets demoted from the team for the rest of the season.
However, the residents and other students didn’t really appreciate that (since she’s a ‘nobody’, and he was one of the ‘gods’) so the name calling and other pranks start on her. It was disquieting to see the way she was being treated, but I was proud of her inner thoughts and strengths, how she didn’t let them bring her down.
So far so good. I even thought, “damn, she might be one of the very few main protagonists I could actually come to like…”
Well, I thought bloody wrong!
You see, her sensible brain lasts for only the first… what, 5% of the book? After that… ha! What a fucking joke! Why, you might ask?
Jake and two of his ‘jock’ buddies corner Zoey in a classroom. They proceed to assault her, take her shirt and skirt off her, grope her breasts, and threaten to rape her. And if that is not enough, when Jake gets tired of toying with her, Carter (one of the other two jocks, and the male MC) forces her to give him a blowjob.
The scene was horrible. This was a ‘dark romance’ so I was prepared for it, but it still rattled my sensibilities a bit. I mean, in the majority of other dark romances, the female MC always seems to enjoy it and like the guy deep down, blah blah blah… But in this book Zoey was bloody crying and begging them to stop. It was just… ugh.
But wait, that is not what bloody confounded me, what bloody froze my mind from incredulity and outraged shock! It was the amount of bullshittery committed by Zoey after that incident!
For a sliver of a moment, there’s a break in my focus on getting away from him. Curiosity tugs at me. He’s searching my gaze for something, but I don’t know what.
She gets curious about him! That’s right! Something about him just fAsCiNaTeS her! And even more shocking, this happens THE NEXT FUCKING DAY! Just yesterday he forced her on her knees for him and could have raped her!
• Day 3 after the incident
“How’d you do on the test?” he asks casually.
“I think I did all right. You?”
Why are you trying to have a conversation with him?? WHY??? In the same conversation where he says brilliant stuff such as:
“Remember that little chat we had, though? About you being a good little whore and keeping this pretty mouth shut, unless you’re opening it to take my cock?”
And later that day, when Carter magically shows up at the bookstore she works in, she fantasises about the books he could like:
Maybe a well-worn copy of Tales of Ordinary Madness. Carter seems like a Bukowoski kind of guy. Not the kind who buys it just to put on their bookshelf so they’ll seem edgy and interesting, but the kind who would actually consume every page and appreciate the madness, relate to the filth.
😩 🤦🏻♀️ I can’t even find the energy for more words, I might end up continuing this review with only emojis!
And oh! He brings his little sister with him! Another female protagonist that LOVES children! *gag*
“Your little sister is adorable,” I inform him.
And conveniently children make EVERYTHING in the universe alright again!
“Bringing a cute kid in was pretty low. I can’t be mean to you in front of your baby sister.”
Yes, Zoey, you can, but you’re just lying to yourself right now.
But wait! This is not the worst! Nope, the worst scene is when he buys a $50 gift card and leaves it to her. Does she bin his lousy gift? Tear it up in anger? Seethe at the gall of that man that assaulted her only three days ago?
• Day 4 after the incident:
“I did briefly consider the moral ramifications of using a gift card Carter Mahoney bought for me. On one hand, it could probably be looked at as selling myself out for $50 worth of books. But I haven’t sold myself out at all. I don’t like him any more for leaving the gift card behind; I just figured since he did, I might as well put it to good use.”
*gag gag gag*
What follows are endless pages about her ruminating over Carter. Who is he? Why does he act that way? What is he doing? Is he a bird? Is he a plane? Is he the Loch Ness monster?
I remember a saying I heard once, some trite, throwaway phrase: Hurt people hurt people. Did someone hurt Carter Mahoney? What is his home life actually like?
Get yourself together, girl! My god, he could have raped you!!! He wanted to rape you!
But it’s like it never happened. She checks his social media and GETS JEALOUS:
Around bedtime, my mind drifts back to Carter. I decide to check on his social media again, and the newest picture causes my stomach to sink and my face to curl up with distaste.
It’s his rally girl, mooning at him as she leans in the window of his car.
I’m just… I was just so fucking speechless.
• Day 5 after the incident:
He invites her to go have wings with him for lunch since she had forgotten hers. Does she give him a hard no because, hello! He sexually assaulted you?!
The thought of wings does make my mouth water, though. It’s been ages since I’ve had them.
Yeah, wings are more important than your safety. Gotcha.
“You promise this isn’t a trick?” I ask, that icky vulnerable feeling hitting me again.
Like he would tell you the truth? 🤨
Carter offers a reassuring nod. “Temporary truce.”
This is probably a terrible idea, but as if on cue, my stomach rumbles, begging me to let the nice man buy it some chicken wings. I tell my stomach he’s not a nice man at all, but my stomach decidedly doesn’t care what kind of man he is, so long as he’s buying it some chicken wings.
Sighing, I clutch my books tighter. “Fine.”
Oh! You really cannot help it, can you? Faking it like you’re really reluctant, like you totally don’t want to go out with him. Give the fault to your stomach. Sure.
And whilst she’s gobbling the wings he bought her, the
best worst fucking quote in the entire book comes up:
If you ignore the things that make him repugnant—like his whole rapey jock thing, for example—Carter is actually pretty all right to hang out with.
And after that thought, they just talk merrily about their likes and dislikes like a cute couple on their first date.
Her thoughts would just be so ridiculously idiotic. She made me scream in anger!
On one hand, it could be a manipulation. He must know I have some kind of soft spot for him, because by all rights, I should be seething with anger and discomfort every time I see his face, not skipping out on lunch to go get boneless wings with him.
On the other hand, it could be true. If he’s actually being sincere, I don’t want to be mean and shut him down. If he’s actually trying to reach out, I don’t want to swat his hand away.
He buys for her another gift card, she accepts, soon after that they get together, then they’re fucking (without condoms, because fuck being responsible, right? And fuck getting morning-after pills because Zoey magically becomes a devoted Christian with a conscience at the thought of ‘aborting’ any possible babies, but at the same time she totally doesn’t want any babies yet. Guess she’ll leave it to chance, uh?)
I must admit some scenes between them were enjoyable and cute towards the end of the book, but the way it all started was such a dark cloud throughout the novel. I was more angry on what had happened than she was, and she was the one that was assaulted!
They just acted like nothing of importance had happened, and it just disgusted me. I could feel my stomach roiling throughout the first 70% of the book at the way they interacted, I’m amazed I never actually puked.
In the end, they have a magical and sappy ending, everything is fine in their lives, they get married and they lived happily ever after.
“The bully isn’t supposed to win.“
Well, guess what? In this stupid book, he does.