I received this book as an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I rarely dislike a book so much I consider not finishing it. But this was that book. I did finish it, mostly because I wanted to see if it had any redeeming qualities.
The answer? Not really, and certainly not enough to account for its shortcomings. It might be the right book for some people, but I can’t get past the triggering content in this book that had no warnings.
Some people like anti-hero protagonists. But Beth goes beyond an anti-hero into just being a villain. I don’t mind reading about villainous characters, when they’re written well, or have a redeeming factor, or have some interesting aspects. Beth was none of those things. Beth is not someone I wanted to root for, and she’s also not written very well.
The book, in general, is a mess. The ending is sloppy and unrealistic. It’s something out of a soap opera. I don’t want to spoil it entirely, but it’s an attempt at a redemption arc, but it’s not truly earned, so it doesn’t make sense.
The book needed trigger warnings. I’m an advocate for trigger warnings, which I know is controversial, some people think books don’t need them. This book is marketed to young adults. It had descriptions of self-harm, eating disorders, sexual assault, fatphobia… need I go on? It needed trigger warnings. It did not have any.
Let’s talk about the fatphobia. The author addresses it a bit with “discussion questions” at the very end. But that doesn’t make up for the intense fatphobia throughout. The main character is fat, so on some level, her encountering a bit of fatphobia from the outside world, or some internalized fatphobia, that could be expected. Not fine, but expected. But this level was horrible. It wasn’t necessary to the plot, and removing it would have, in my opinion, really strengthened the book.
It was clear that Beth had major issues, and she was at points delusional about how the outside world saw her, and used that as an excuse to enact revenge for feeling unseen.
One final note–making the two not-straight characters (it’s unclear what sexuality they are, but they’re not heterosexual) the villains is a homophobic trope that needs to die.