Review: Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully (Fall Away, #1)
Bully
by Penelope Douglas
Book 1 of the Fall Away Series
10 giant stars!!!

I have been waxing poetic about this book for a long time on my FB page, and it's only now that I finally got to sit down and write my review! *smh* 

BULLY is about Tate and Jared, next-door neighbors who were best friends as kids. After one summer though, when Jared came back from spending time away with his dad, he became very distant and quite rebellious. The biggest change of all was his regard for Tate. He began bullying her and making her high school life very difficult. 

The story opens with Tate about to leave for France, having chosen to spend her Junior year abroad--and honestly, a break from all the bullying she gets from Jared and his cohorts.  When she returns though, she is no longer the passive girl who just cries and runs away whenever Jared has his fun. No, she's now fighting back! A more confident and beautiful Tate who is now ready to face her nemesis face to face. Ohhh, from then on it's an exciting clash of wills, guts, cunning and emotions. Whether these two admit it or not, they have so much history, unsettled issues and raging emotions that it would be impossible to ignore one another.

This isn't a feel-good, girl vs. boy story. It actually has a lot of angst. It is also very sexy. I'm not talking about sex scenes because this book is not filled with it (though those few scenes were indeed sexy and tastefully done!). There's just something in the way Penelope Douglas wrote it that had me tingling and swooning almost all the time.

The first time I read about this book was during its cover reveal blitz, I think. The synopsis alone caught my attention and BULLY was immediately stored among the top slots of my mental TBR. I really am a sucker for friends-turned-to-lovers stories, all the more if they were childhood best friends! Now the idea of the guy being a bully to his former childhood best friend… I just knew there was going to be delicious friction in there. Boy, was I right! 

Penelope Douglas gave me delicious friction and so much more. Honestly, I had tingles the entire time I read the book. During the earlier parts when the hostility between Tate and Jared was still on full blast, it was as though I was standing on my tiptoes, so ready to jump into action. I could literally feel my toes and the tips of my fingers tingle. I was that excited and looking forward to whatever's going to happen next!  BULLY is one of those stories where you just feel that these two characters will really end up together regardless of how they are treating each other at the beginning of the story.

This book totally captured my imagination and fully engaged my inner romantic. Let me clarify though: I am totally against bullying and I really hated the fact that Tate suffered socially, emotionally and mentally because of Jared's pranks (which sadly escalated in those two to three years). What I found romantic was the manner in which Jared regained Tate's trust and love. He is an ass, a jerk, and he deserved to suffer and grovel for everything he put Tate through. I believe though that he got that. Even if we don't actually see him on his knees and begging for forgiveness, he went through his own personal hell as implied in the text. Plus, there's just something in the way Penelope described and portrayed him that made me--and I daresay countless other readers--become equally  sympathetic to Jared as we were with Tate.
This is how bullies are made.

This is a very important line from the book, in my opinion. A bully is made, not born. That doesn't excuse their behavior, but it goes to show that there's a cause for it. And if you hit that on the head, the person may have a chance to change for the better. And that's precisely what happened here with Jared, thanks largely to Tate.

Lastly, I realize that some readers might be put off by how young these characters are. They are only in high school, not even of legal age yet. Honestly that was a little awkward for me at the beginning, but eventually their ages didn't enter my mind anymore. Jared and Tate faced some problems and personal issues that most adults have to face as well. I guess it's because of that that these two, and even the secondary characters, felt mature enough for me to convince me of their words, actions, decisions and emotions.

Speaking of secondary characters, let me address something--actually someone--that got so many readers angry: K.C. She is Tate's best friend who did something that really sucked about a quarter into the story: she started seeing Jared. It is explained pretty soon though that they were merely doing it for show because K.C. was trying to make her cheating ex jealous (and of course, Jared might have done it to make Tate jealous as well and not merely to bully her). Still, it was a sucky thing to make out with the one guy who keeps hurting your best friend. I for one was extremely annoyed by what she did, and even later on in the story, my stomach revolted every time I dared to wonder about the specifics of what went on with her and Jared. I really, really hope that this is all explained in UNTIL YOU. I'm not completely mad at K.C. though. I'm very willing to give her a chance, especially since she's going to have her own book!

Penelope Douglas really had a winner in this book. A feat since it's her very first! After reading it once I immediately talked about it to my friends and looked for her Goodreads, website and Facebook pages. Her style of writing is very suited to the NA genre. I am really looking forward to reading UNTIL YOU (which is waaaaay overdue in my TBR!), RIVAL (it's coming out on September!!!!!) and FALL AWAY (honestly, I loved the initial title “Native”… sad..). She is an author to watch out for, and I for one am a fan for life!

So again, do read BULLY if you haven't yet! Once you finish reading and you think Jared hasn't redeemed himself that much, go on with UNTIL YOU! With what I've heard and read from other readers and reviewers, that book is just excellent!! And that it shows so much more than an alternate POV (Jared's POV) of book 1. There he will do his utmost best to prove you wrong! =D 

BULLY is not just a story about a bully and his victim falling in love. It's so much more than that. It's about two young people whose connection is so deep, their hearts can forgive and offer a second chance for trust to form and strengthen their love.


Synopsis:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Penelope Douglas delivers an unforgettable New Adult romance that toes the fine line between love and hate…. 

My name is Tate.

He doesn't call me that, though. He’ll barely refer to me at all, and he’ll hardly ever 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 worse as time wore on. I even went to Europe for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way I'll allow him to ruin another year. He might not have changed, but I have.

It's time to fight back.

When one brave young woman stands up to her best friend Jared, now tormenter, the consequences go beyond anything either of them ever would have imagined….


Recall the events of Bully and find so much more about Jared's past, plus the events after the first book in this next installment of the Fall Away Series.
Until You (Fall Away, #1.5)

Book 1.5: Until You

Penelope Douglas

Penelope Douglas is a writer living in Las Vegas with her husband and daughter. She is the author of the New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers BULLY and UNTIL YOU. Look for the next book in the series, RIVAL, coming August 26, 2014.


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