I kind of cannot with this book on many levels.
TEAR YOU APART
by Sarah Cross
Egmont USA, January 2015
Fairy tale urban fantasy
provided by NetGalley
Faced with a possible loophole to her “Snow White” curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who’s fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrficing the love that might kill her?
I suppose there’s no other way to start this than by mentioning what attracted me to this book and what I found I liked about it, then head on over to the many things that should have made me nope out of the story so fast (and on normal circumstances, if I hadn’t gotten this free in exchange for some feedback, I might not have bothered to finish it).
Anyway, the attraction! I love fairy tale retellings. I know this was only part of why I picked up the book, because hey, I’m also aware that not all fairy tale retellings I’ve read were as fabulous as I expected them to be. Thankfully, they don’t come to my attention often enough and for the most part I’ve enjoyed the retellings. But yes, fairy tale retellings in an urban environment with YA protagonists? Sure, why not, I’m always game to read those. The cover was also interesting and simple; a bloodied green apple. Hey, if somebody wanted to go for the “edgy” look, blood on apples certainly fits the bill. Oh, and a reference to Grimm? Well, hey, that just told me dark fairy tales, and already that was a super big plus!
Marketing aside, when I got into the story world, I thought it was pretty cool. Beau Rivage did ring too similarly to the Once Upon a Time TV series (which I’ve only watched one episode of and sadly it never actually worked for me) but I gave it a chance because I liked that there were so many different ways the Cursed handled their curses. I’m almost sorry I didn’t read the first book taking place in Beau Rivage (Kill Me Softly), but reading through Tear You Apart, there wasn’t much of a problem picking it up as a stand-alone. Heck, I liked that there were obscure fairy tales mentioned along with the bigger ones.
So premise? Pretty good. Cover? Nice! World? Intriguing and macabre and pretty darn magical even when set in a modern environment.
That pretty much sums up the only things I liked, though. Now onto the rest of the book!
It’s not usual that I’m typically not a big fan of main characters; usually I have a thing for the secondaries because I always find them more interesting. That’s besides the point, though, because I found myself in the unfortunate rarity that I hated. Every. Single. Character. Viv’s friends were mostly jerks with occasional redeeming qualities. Henley’s friends were mostly jerks with occasional redeeming qualities. The parents and the Cursed and the underworld royal family were all jerks with almost no redeeming qualities (even I had a hard time empathizing with Garnet). Heck, the one character I liked was Regina, and only because she fought for her right to survival up until the sorely disappointing end where all that fight just went whoosh in order to force the plot forward.
And then there are Viv, Henley, and Jasper.
Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe what I think about this love-triangle-that’s-really-not-a-love-triangle. I’m not usually a big fan of love triangles, but come on. Henley and Viv’s relationship was abusive enough, but hey, let’s add another abusive man to the mix and have our spunky heroine have to choose between two of the lesser evils!
Except the problem is that neither choice really constitutes healthy romantic relationships. Henley from the get-go was the Chosen One, the romance that stands the test of Curses. He’s the Huntsman, Viv’s the Snow White, and eventually the story was going to fall predictably into that love story and things will be a bit happier for it. That was how the plot went in the end. So what was the damn point with putting Jasper in to “stir the romantic waters” when there was absolutely nothing he could do to change Viv’s mind? I mean, Jasper wasn’t much of a second choice as a character, but there should have been some leeway given to the poor kid who just wanted his happily ever after as much as the next Cursed kid.
Which takes me to the horrid character that is Vivian and her super-abusive and single-minded relationship with Henley. It’s not even that I can only gripe about the girl character; I have much to gripe about Henley as well, and seriously, both of them together? It’s called several years of therapy sessions in the near future. Vivian treats her Huntsman like shit for a good two-thirds of the book, but somehow eventually goes back running to him because OMG like, he was THE ONE from the moment they became childhood friends and then besties and then sweethearts and then lovers. Their bond is so strong that Viv repeatedly ignores Jasper to the point of indifference, dislike, and eventual antagonizing. Their bond is so strong that Viv doesn’t give anything else a reason to work, because when she’s not being a jerk to her love interest or with him, she’s miserable and hates the world.
Henley’s no better. As a reaction to Viv’s asshattery, he’s smashing up cars, tying up princes, and overall giving us a belligerent, jealous-boyfriend routine that could very well lead up to paranoia and domestic violence. Sure, he’s given no inclination that he would ever hurt Viv (even when she treats him like crap), but everybody has a breaking point, and Henley’s volatile nature really does seem to be leading towards that point.
It’s really no wonder Jasper’s evil villain father normally has this kind of reaction to the entire situation:
I probably had a lot more to say about the characters, but just thinking about them only further irritates me.
2 out of 5 Goodreads stars! If anything, I’d give a 2.5 to the Twelve Dancing Princesses subplot that kept me from throwing my Kindle down and giving up completely.