Until You (Fall Away, #1.5) - Penelope Douglas

I found Bully perturbing in many ways -- the seemingly inevitable slut-shaming, the horrific double standard (which is apparently a theme in Douglas's work -- every single plot is Man-Whore vs. Good Girl), and the cruelty and violence. Still, the story was damn interesting, and I was eager to continue the series. After this book though, and skimming parts of the next, I may be done.

Not only did I hate Until You, but its blatant, convoluted attempts to address every complaint made about Bully just made me more conscious of everything I had disliked; instead of making me more sympathetic to the main character through showing his point of view, I wound up loathing him and every single character in the book. (It's appropriate that this included the heroine's best friend, who had seemed misguided but genuinely caring in Bully -- she's going to be the heroine of a future book, and thus apparently simply must be utterly loathsome.) The number of lampshades hung is ludicrous -- no, no, Jared doesn't think of women as disposable, though he clearly does. No, no, he isn't slut-shaming, though he clearly is. No, no, he didn't actually have sex with all those other girls he was pawing while Tate was around, because he just loves her SO MUCH he can't even bear the thought.

The terrible narration of the audiobook didn't help: Jared sounds like a whiny little boy, making it impossible to believe everyone obeys him and all girls are dying to have sex with him. I don't think it was just the crappy narrator, though. Tate's voice in Bully made the two of them interesting people, despite how fucked up they are. Jared's voice shows him to not think of anything other than his wrongs and how much he loves and hates Tate. He's a fantasy, not a person, and a nasty fantasy to boot.