Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Book Review: TRUE by: Erin McCarthy
My Review: I actually wince every time I look at the 2.5 star rating I gave TRUE by Erin McCarthy. I keep asking myself, how could this book have turned out to be a hot mess? It had everything going for it, a hot cover, a premise that almost guaran-damn-teed one hell of a scorching romance, and the most important factor--the book was written by USA Today and NY Times Bestselling romance author Erin McCarthy. Despite all of these positives and all of the marketing and advertising, TRUE does not live up to its hype.
Rory is a 20 year old college student who is studying to be a coroner. She loves math and science and feels more comfortable studying than going out clubbing. Her two best friends, Kylie and Jessica, on the other hand, like to party, get drunk, and like to "scratch their itch" regularly. Whatever, I'm not judging! This does, however, set the tone for the beginning of the book. And because I want to talk about the positive stuff first, I will come back to the trouble I had with the start of TRUE.
Despite the issues I had with the beginning of the book, the story gains strength as it chugs along, especially as the mystery surrounding Tyler starts to unravel. To be quite honest, I found his story and him as a character way more interesting than Rory. And I am not going to lie and say I wasn't a little disappointed that the book was only in Rory's point of view. I think the book blurb summary is a bit misleading. It made it sound like the story would have alternating POV. I have no issues with a story being told by one person, but I think TRUE would have benefited with Tyler's POV. Despite this, I was sucked into Tyler's world. His home life was absolutely horrific. No wonder the poor boy smoked so many damn cigarettes! I definitely fell a little in love with him AND his big brother Riley (also a hottie) for sacrificing their own childhood and dreams so that they could take care of their younger brothers, Easton and Jayden.
What is so frustrating is the fact that I am having a hard time finding other things about the book that I liked. Everything was just okay. There was hardly any character development. The "love" scenes between Rory and Tyler were just...okay. Not to say that there wasn't at last one that got me a little hot, but nothing that left me or my kindle overheated. And the story itself was just...okay. Nothing really made it stand out, other then Tyler and his family issues, but even that didn't feel fully committed to. Even the culmination of the main plot device which is the deal Rory's roommates make with Tyler to rid her of her virginity just kind of fizzles. I guess what I am trying to say is, I expected more, especially from an author who has some high credentials. Yes, she is known for her adult romance, but come on, New Adult or Mature Adult, whatever you want to call it, is not THAT much of a stretch for her. I've read debut authors in the New Adult/Mature Adult genre that have written WAY better stories than TRUE. This should have been a slam dunk for her. But I think what Erin McCarthy and other authors that may want to venture into this hot genre need to learn is if you are going to stick with a formula, you need to somehow not only make it your own, but give us a fresh way to look at it. I don't have a problem reading a story with the same premise as 10 other books. But MAKE IT STAND OUT. While I was reading TRUE, I couldn't help be reminded of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits. Tyler's family situation is very similar to that of Noah's. I even remember shedding a few tears while reading Noah's story, remember feeling that lump in my throat and the pain in my chest. I'm not saying I need to feel those same emotions while reading a similar novel, I just expect to be moved in some way and walk away feeling like the book held its own.
Now to what I truly disliked about TRUE. Let's go back to the beginning of the story. I'm not going to sugarcoat the scene. Rory's two best friends, Jessica and Kylie, want to get some, so they ask her to come with them to Nathan's apartment. Nathan is basically Tyler's best friend and Tyler hangs out and crashes over there often. So while Kylie and Jess are getting it on with Nathan and Tyler (YES, Tyler and Jessica are f-buddies), Rory is out in the living room with Grant. Grant tries to RAPE Rory and instead of screaming for help, she has this whole inner monologue about what she should do, or maybe she should just play along in order to throw him off when he least expects it, etc., etc., etc.. WTF!?! Her best friends AND 2 guys are in the apartment. It's not like there is a party going on or there is loud music that would muffle her screams. Why she just didn't scream for help is so absurd.
Once the almost rape is interrupted (you can guess who comes to her rescue), Rory obviously wants to go back to the dorms. Cool, totally understand. I at first thought her best friends were pretty sympathetic and outraged at what Grant tried and almost did to Rory. Great. But then I read this: "'I'm staying here,'" Jessica stated. "'It's too cold outside to go home. See you tomorrow, Rory.' Kylie was already curled up on the couch, in a praying position, half-asleep as she gave a weak wave. 'Bye, sweetie.'" WTF!!!!!!!!!! Are you SERIOUS??? Her BEST FRIENDS won't go back to the dorm with her???? She almost got raped for goodness sakes!!! This made me insanely angry. I'm going to stop while I'm ahead or else I will keep on ranting about that!
There were other minor things that annoyed me, lines that didn't quite make sense such as this one: "Oh my God. It was Tyler, just propped up casually, legs sprawled out, his feet dangling over the side in nothing but socks." Obviously he wasn't naked, but the way she wrote that sentence made it seem like he was. I know I had an ARC copy of TRUE, so it could just be a proof reading error, so I won't hold it against her.
I really wanted to like TRUE. It had a great set up, everything from the attractive cover art, marketing campaign, catchy book blurb, and a seasoned author. Sadly, the story itself did not live up to its expectations, just a shell of what it could have been. Some of her plot devices were just poorly executed. It's one thing if you are going to use a rape scene to have the hero come to the heroine's rescue (it's happened in books a thousand times) but maybe make it more believable. Maybe have her locked in a room with the creep while a party is going on with really loud music so no one can hear her screams. But to have the girl sitting there in the quiet living room while at least 4 other people are within hear shot and she doesn't even try to cry out for help is just ridiculous. And in my opinion, her "best friends" are no friends at all for staying behind because it's "too cold". Again, a poor plot device to get the hero and heroine alone (Tyler ends up taking Rory back to the dorm.) Erin McCarthy either needs to stick with what she is good at or take her spin in the New/Mature Adult genre more seriously.