Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bully by Penelope Douglas

by Penelope Douglas

Summary:  My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he'll barely even speak to me.

But he still won't leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I've been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way in hell I'll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back.

I'm not going to let him bully me anymore.
I have very conflicted feelings about this book. But before I get to that, I want to explain why I picked it up in the first place.

A few days ago, a post resurfaced on my tumblr dash about guys who bully girls. The way people would explain it away as "he's just doing it because he likes you" and how messed up it is to teach girls that it's okay for a guy to be abusive towards her if he's too scared to admit he likes her, and how it shouldn't justify it and it isn't okay... The post was more articulate about it, but that's the gist of it.

And then this book showed up on my goodreads (a friend read it) and it was titled Bully and had lots of glowing reviews and... I don't know. I was interested to see if it would be a story where a bully successfully redeems himself and if the author could turn him into a good love interest.

...So that's why I read it. And it was pretty disappointing as far as that goes.

I will say, on a positive note, that the book was entertaining and I read it in one sitting so it must've done something right. It's like one of those TV shows that you know is bad and all kinds of problematic and yet you keep watching anyway because there's something mindlessly addictive about it.

As for the bad stuff...well, Tate bugged me a lot of the time. The way she was so down on other girls and slut shamed the ones who slept with Jared was just - no. Not cool at all. I don't like that sort of catty, high-and-mighty attitude in a main character. And it didn't help that even her relationship with her best friend was terrible -- they barely talked about anything except for guys, they stabbed each other in the back over a guy, her friend defended the guy who tormented her best friend for years just because he was was more like a friendship of convenience rather than one that was genuine (which is fair enough, those friendships exist, but in a book where it had all the other anti-feminist attitudes, it irritated me more).

The bully stuff had its moments. At times, it showed really well the emotional trauma it can cause but then at other times it felt like she was too forgiving of the stuff he had done because she was attracted to him. As for Jared's redemption -- it was pretty poorly done. His reasons for behaving the way he did weren't even close to good enough and it was frustrating how easily he was forgiven.

Basically, the book was problematic in a lot of ways that will likely infuriate a lot of people who read it (you'll know if you're one of those people). But it's entertaining -- if you know you can overlook its flaws, it's a quick read that delivers a predictable hate-turns-to-love romance.

I will probably read the sequel, although I'll go into it cautiously with low expectations (I think the love interest in the sequel is the character in this who helps bully Tate and sexually harasses her on multiple occasions -- I'm not sure how that can be redeemed, but it'll be interesting to see the author try).

I'd rate the book 2.5 stars out of 5 -- it gets points for entertainment value.


p.s. Silly thing, but it also had one of my bookish pet peeves... Band name drops. It irritates me unless it's actually relevant to the story and in this case it wasn't (it even mentions a specific song that plays during a sex scene which just made me cringe so much -- I like that song, but

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