Series: Brayshaw High #1
on January 15th 2019
Genres: YA Romance
"Girls like you aren't exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way."
Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for "troubled teens".
I didn't listen, and now I'm on their radar.
They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they've deemed me fit.
Too bad for them, I don't follow rules. Too bad for me, they're determined to make sure I do.
Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings...these are the boys of Brayshaw High.And I'm the girl who got in their way.
Releasing January 17th, 2019Note: This is book one in a three book series
So this book had been all over Facebook these past few days with gushing reviews all over. And I just couldn’t ignore it after I’ve seen it being compared to the Royals series by Erin Watt, which I loved and Fallen Crest series by Tijan. And those comparisons are warranted. Unfortunately, while PP and FC were executed well (in my opinion), this book wasn’t. I had huge issues with it.
So where do I even start?
First off, this book made me laugh. Not in a good way though. Like there are parts in this book where it’s supposed to be serious and I’m supposed to care about whatever drama our protagonist is going but through but instead, I get the giggles.
Because it’s so RIDICULOUS! I think the problem was this book took itself way too seriously. Nothing is more ridiculous or funnier than a book that takes itself way too seriously especially when it doesn’t have anything to say. Books don’t necessarily have to say anything to be enjoyable but that’s just it. This book tried way too hard to be deep & failed.
And no, it’s not because the leads are teenagers. I’ve read books with teen leads that had something to say about the world and it worked. The teenagers in this book though—they’re not really humans. They’re caricatures. And these are teenagers take themselves way too seriously. Like you’d think they’re running a country or something with all the self-inflicted drama they created.
It probably would’ve worked if the characters had an ounce of charisma and self-awareness but they had none. Raven and Maddoc had no substance or depth to them. Calling them shallow would be too kind. Shallow characters are at least fun to read but these two? No. Their dialogue and interaction is as interesting as watching paint dry. Boring and pointless.
Raven was Elle Harper on steroids but with less charisma and self-awareness. She’s also a hypocrite.
Maddoc is as sexy as a sack of potatoes. He barely talks and when he does, the words that come out of him are mind-numbingly dumb. But we’re supposed to pretend he’s being deep because doh, he’s the hero. Royce and Captain are pretty much the same.
“Imma let you sit on that.” He leans forward. “And maybe later,” – he moves my hand, sliding the back of it against his hard-on– “you’ll be sitting on this.”
So sexy. NOT.
Seriously. The lines of dialogue Maddoc and his friends have in this book was so bad and so cheesy, they made me cringe. They are revered and feared because they own the town or they own the town because they’re feared or—honestly, I have no idea. Reading their backstory made my head hurt. This book took the dead and the absent parent tropes to a staggering height. The story about how the boys became who they are bonkers and hilarious at the same time. I didn’t understand half of it, and nor do I care.
But all the women in their town seems to think they’re hot shit because everyone wants to be in their pants. We’re reminded of this fact all the time just in case we forget. And oh, we’re also reminded that Raven, unlike those other girls don’t want to sleep with them.
Which brings us to issue number two or what I call the SHE’S NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS syndrome. Yes, it’s capitalized because it’s the only clear theme this book has. What I really disliked about the “not like other girls” syndrome is how tied it is to girl hate. Because apparently, the only way to make the heroine special is to make every single female character in the book as loathsome and petty as possible. All the other girls that aren’t Raven are all jealous of her and all the boys are in love with her of course because SHE’S NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS, YO!
To be fair, there are other girls that aren’t after the Brayshaws but they’re barely in the book. They have no personality and they’re there to tell us how special Raven is and how those other girls are just jealous because the Brayshaw boys want her.
The rest of girls are written as villains who are out to get the boys and ruin their lives. They’re not written as characters with feelings. Nope. Their ambition in life is to be a Bray Girl—whatever that means. Basically, they’re there to show everyone that Raven IS NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS, YO!
“For real, you’re like a biker princess or rock goddess, wrapped in a fat ass, shiny Do Not Touch tape that only makes everyone wanna touch it more. You’re a little hood but still a Cali girl. They want to be you, imitate you, but they don’t know how. They have fancy clothes and cars and Daddy’s plastic, but no matter what they do or buy or who they pay, they can’t reach your level, and they know it. You’re this lethal ass combination of girl they never knew they wanted to be until now but couldn’t match if they tried.”
Yeah, yeah. She’s not like other girls and everyone are just jealous haters. We know!
I’ve read my fair share of misogynoir, but I have never ever EVER read a book where girls and women are treated this way. It’s even more startling when you realize that the men in the book are coddled and every single bad behavior they have are excused by the heroine and by everyone.
What made it worse was Raven’s own hypocrisy. Every time Maddoc and his friends act like worst people in the world, Raven would excuse their actions as acting out or working through their issues because they don’t trust women & they just need understanding. Raven doesn’t spare the same kindness for the other girls who are also being used by the boys. She sees the other girls around the Bray boys the same way people saw her. She doesn’t blame the boys or the patriarchy nor does she blame the system of sexism that enabled boys like Maddoc to treat girls like crap. Nope. She instead blames the girls because clearly, they’re asking for it.
In Raven’s mind: Maddoc & friends = misunderstood. The other girls = jealous haters who will sell their dignity to have sex with Maddoc & friends. This message was constantly repeated and reinforced throughout the book. It’s not just Raven that says it. Every single character in this book parrots this narrative. It’s exhausting.
News flash: You can make your girls strong and special without demeaning every single female character that is not the heroine.
Last but certainly not the least reason why I hated this book was the writing. There’s no sense of time and place in this book because the world building is non-existent.
It’s also repetitive as hell. There was no conflict. Just constant drama about something. And the romance between Maddoc and Raven was as exciting as going to a root canal.
Then there’s the technical aspect. I had to search and see if this book was edited because it doesn’t read like it was edited at all.
There were too many errors to ignore. My goddess, the errors. There are missing words, run on sentences, sentences that ends abruptly or doesn’t end at all. The mangled metaphors and silly similes—they all made a cameo in this book.
For the love that is holy, lay off the thesaurus! And use figures of speech sparingly especially when you have no idea how to use them. They’re supposed to make your dialogue or scene clearer, not mangle them beyond recognition. It’s not cute, dear authors when you do this. It does not make you a great writer either.
Strong and solid, with eyes like ancient jade and the sharp edges of a monarch…
What does that mean? A monarch like the butterfly or monarch like a king? And how exactly does a monarch have sharp edges?
His brown hair matches his eyes and is a little wilder on top then theirs, but he keeps the sides trimmed nice.
Sorry, I’m still trying to picture the “wilder on top then theirs” part.
Chills break across my skin at the possessives he’s exuding.
Yeah, when I read this, I wondered if I was being punked or this was an honest mistake that the editor missed. I have forgiven ARCs for errors like this but not published books.
I lift a brow and his frown deepens, so I lift my knee, jamming it right into the douche in front of me’s dick.
To be fair, I know exactly what the author was trying to do here but the sentence construction doesn’t make sense.
And to top it all off, the punctuations, especially the commas, and ellipses … oh my goddess, I can’t. There were way too many misplaced commas in this book. Listen, when used properly, you hardly notice commas. But when used improperly, commas become these pesky little things that annoy readers.
His face is a perfect mask, hair mused and collar stretched.
Mussed not mused but who cares, right? He’s HOT and so ALPHA!
Like I get it, I have a stigma that follows me around, even hours from mine, it seems, but I don’t know why people go out of the way to piss me off.
Maybe it’s to help them in some way, a pawn of sorts, or maybe they crave the presence of a female constant, one who doesn’t require anything of them. One who doesn’t judge.
A female constant? Is that like a babysitter?
…their facial expressions shift from angrily irritated to … more. Frownless.
I’m sorry but frownless isn’t a word.
“Maddoc … we need be careful.”
He glares down at me. This guy has perfected the art of intimidation. Not unlike my mother, he uses his body to get what he wants – fear, fight … frisky.
This sentence should’ve ended at what he wants. Period. But nooooo, it has to be edgier like poetic like and now it’s ruined.
I’m not going to quote every single error I found in this book. There isn’t enough space for it. I feel like when you don’t polish your work, it affects your storytelling. If you’re relating a story to me then the grammar thing can be ignored because you have your voice and your face can help tell your story to those listening.
A written story is another matter. Punctuation, grammar, syntax—they all make the story better not worse. So I don’t get why some authors are allergic to it. Editing your work isn’t going to ruin your story, it’s gonna enhance it.
What I’m trying to say is: HIRE A GODDAMN GOOD EDITOR!