Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review of Bully by Penelope Douglas

This book destroyed me. Utterly, irrevocably destroyed me. I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop trying to figure out how I feel about it. I want to say Screw You! to all the books I'm reading right now and buy Until You so I can get inside Jared's head and understand this bad boy. I have a terrible book hangover; I couldn't even read anything else last night after I finished this. 

It's been days, and I still can't stop thinking about this book. I just want to reread it now. I have to stop myself from one-clicking Jared's story, even though I know I'm going to within the next few days. I swear, this has got to be one of the worst book hangovers I've ever had.

Let's just hope this review is coherent. 

Rating: 5 Achingly Passionate and Gritty Stars
I hate that this book was told in only one POV, but I can accept it because Until You (Fall Away, #1.5) is a companion novel to this book and is told exclusively in Jared's POV. Essentially, it's his story. So, while I wished I read this with alternating voices, I was still floored with how much I loved this novel.

I wasn't sure I would, especially in the beginning. How would I even love a character like Jared? How could I condone him for what he'd done to Tate over the years? How could I even want her to end up with him even though my brain was screaming for her to run away and never look back. From everyone. From Madoc, from Jared, from her sucky best friend. What does it say about me that I'm absolutely okay with their relationship? 

I loved Tate. She was such a strong character, though at times, she felt herself to be weak. How she put up with everything through the years, how she still came back to this school even after a year away is beyond me. I loved her voice, and I was pulled into the story from the beginning. Everyone who said she was weak for being a relationship with Jared are the ones who can't accept his cruelty, who can't accept what he's done to her over the years. And I understand that. But, to me, I thought she was so strong because she forgave him. Not entirely, as it took her a long time to be able to trust him again. But she knew what she was doing, and she knew that underneath Jared's cruelty was the same boy she'd grown up with. She just had to dig deep to find him. 

Oh, Jared. How can I love you after what you've done to Tate? For most of the book, I was unsure whether I wanted slap him or hug him. God, he was cruel. He was ugly to her. And I don't condone the things he's done, and I'm not so sure I could have forgiven him like Tate did. Jared is a bad boy in every sense of the word. He's a walking one-night stand; he blurs the lines between reckless and dangerous. But when he finally lets himself have what he's always wanted, when he finally understands what he's done to his best friend, how much he's hurt her, he realizes that he'll do anything to deserve her. To deserve a second chance. Because he doesn't want to believe that he's pushed her so far away, he'll never get her back.
"I love you more than myself, more than my own family, for Christ's sake. I don't want to take another step in this world without you next to me." 
He's still that same jagged-edged and harsh man, but when he lets Tate back in, he lets the light back in. His character development took a long time, but it was believable. And genuine. There was so much more to Jared than any of us knew. So much more, and I can't wait to hear his side of the story. 

Their hate-to-love relationship had me fanning myself because the chemistry between them was scorching hot! You could tell in every scene of theirs that it was strong. Neither of them could fight it. Their relationship developed slowly, and simmering underneath the surface was a love so tangible that they stopped trying to fight it. It was so passionate, so raw, so honest. I enjoyed most of their interactions, and I loved how their relationship developed from anger and hurt and longing to opening up and finding a way to move on together

The secondary characters were okay. I honestly hated Madoc in the beginning of the book. I thought he crossed a line with Tate, and I thought he was disgusting. But. I still want to read his story, because by the end of Bully, I liked him. KC, on the other hand, had a love/hate relationship with me. I hated that she ignored Tate's warnings and dated Jared. I'm sorry, but are you really going to date this guy who's made your friend's life a living hell the last three years? Are you really that weak and insecure that any attention from a guy has you turning a complete 180? No. I didn't understand how she could do that to her best friend. I hated her for that, but I did like her.

The plot of this book revolves around one question: WHY? What did Tate do to him that made him hate her so much? It's a mystery that is slightly easy to guess, but once you hear Jared's story, you'll wish it wasn't true. I ached for this bad boy. I felt for him, for what he went through that summer. His reasoning behind his cruelty was ridiculous, but I saw why he needed to turn his anger onto the one person he could. It doesn't account for his actions. It isn't an excuse for his cruelty, and I don't think the author wanted it to be one. It just.. is. 

There was quite of bit of dark material in this book, a lot of sharp-edged words and cruel remarks. Just a lot of bad. But one thing that really bugged me was that all the girls were portrayed as slutty, and all the guys were portrayed as assholes. The world isn't perfect; people aren't perfect. But there are still good people in this world yet. Not everyone is a slut or an asshole. You just have to find them, and hold onto them. 

This book was heavy, gritty, raw. It was about abuse and neglect, healing and forgiveness. It was honest, deep, and emotionally captivating. It was about a character who had the strength to forgive. It was about a character who suffered so much growing up and who was so angry at the world. Sometimes, scars aren't visible. They're tattooed on the heart and soul. And sometimes, we let people in and let them see our wounds. Bully wasn't a book that romanticized abuse and bullying. It was just so very honest and so very beautifully written that I found myself genuinely moved by the story and absolutely destroyed by the end.
Yesterday lasts forever. Tomorrow comes never. Until you.