Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Easy (Contours Of the Heart #1) by Tammara Webber

TW: Attempted Rape, Mentions of Rape

Disclosure time: I have been meaning to read this story for a long time now. I finally decided to do it between some ARCs, and guess what?
Things weren't as smooth as I thought they would be.

This story has so many issues in it, that I don't even know where to start.
For most of its length I had a hard time reading it, and believing it. The characters don't feel university old, and adult enough. Also their behaviour will probably jar most readers since they tend to read as stereotyped clichés.
However the last part of story deserves at least a solid three star rating. So, how to rate a story with  mostly downs and some ups?

My biggest issue with it is that this was supposed to accompany the life of a student who starts the story as the victim of an attempted rape.
First of all, this is how the story basically starts. With Jacqueline's assault...
To start a story with a scene like that can be tricky. Especially when it's used to, let's say, present the characters to one another.  Lucas is given the role of white knight, just like this was a different type of story.

I guess, as women, we all have been ingrained with_ probably since birth _ certain basically self protection behaviour. 
Also, as our educational level increases and we become familiarised with all the things that could happen to us, a level of healthy paranoia tends to install itself in our minds.

That's why one of my biggest issues with this story basically arises after Lucas rescues Jacqueline.
He insists on driving her home which is very kind of him, but she doesn't know him, and she almost got raped.

Then there's the point that will mostly divide readers:
The way Jacqueline reacts to the assault.

I'll respect the fact that we aren't automatons, and that everyone reacts their own way.
Jacqueline continues living her life as if nothing has happened, and if this happens in real life, _yes, people block bad things that happen to them _ the thing is, we're reading a fictionalized story, and most people won't understand this. People won't understand that in the following day, Jacqueline concerns seem to be only directed to the presence of her ex-boyfriend in class.

Rape, attempted rape, abuse, violence..
All of this continues alive in our days, and epidemic as ever. And I'm afraid that texts that tell these kind of stories in such a dispassionate way _as the way the author chose to do it _  belittles most victims' reactions.

I also found problematic the way Jacqueline and Lucas get involved.
It was too quickly done.
If there hadn't been a rape attempt, okay, fine, all would be good, but as it was told; once again I felt that this doesn't take into consideration most victims way of reacting.

I wanted this book to be about a victim's way of dealing with such a situation. Yes, she could fall in love, but things couldn't be as easily done _on an emotional level _ as before an attempted rape.

I couldn't understand and believe the easy way Jacqueline gets back to her normal routine, and the way she gets involved with Lucas.

The writing is fast paced, but could use another editing process. It could use a level up grammatically, so that the characters didn't feel so much like "high schoolers"
"The room had almost cleared, the guy from the back row included. I felt a stab of irrational disappointment. So he’d stared at me in class—big deal. Maybe he was just bored. Or easily distracted."
Regarding Lucas...
I'm afraid that the dark, brooding, mysterious stranger/saviour characterization with which the author presents him to us, clashes a little _ in the beginning _ with this type of story.
Also it's almost impossible to ignore what starts out to be his initial stalker tendencies _although it is explained, and not as bad as it seems to be _, this didn't make him very credible as a love interest.
Then the situation with Lucas and Landon was too much of a mess, and not much of a surprise.

Here are some examples of the writing that basically didn't work for me: 
“Am I wrong, or did this guy just try to rape you—” I flinched at the ugly word “Instead, you walked out into a dark parking lot, alone, paying absolutely no attention to your surroundings. Real responsible.”
Ugh, ugh, ugh...
Once we were official, he changed my name—and everyone followed suit, including me.
“You’re my Jackie,” he told me, referencing the wife of Jack Kennedy, his namesake and personal idol.
Then, (and this is a constant in plots that take place in universities) what kind of make pretend schools do these people go to?

She goes babble to her teacher than the reason she's been missing classes _UNIVERSITY CLASSES! _ is due to a break up, and he understands? And helps her?
According to my experience, this couldn't be further from the truth, but okay this is fiction, and there are cases and cases.

In my experience things like that simply aren't done. And don't even get me started on assistant professor that are in reality plain demons in disguise instead of helpful souls.

Oh, and romances between students and people in teaching positions?
*cough* For me, this is something that has to be carefully written, because honestly that's a situation that I don't feel should be romanticized.

Getting back to University characterization, well this may come as a shock, but people in university actually study!

 And for another shocking revelation: We want to be best of our classes, so this means that our conversations _ as grown up's _ are directed mostly at classes and study, and not at the "cuteness" of a certain character.
For heaven sake, not even in high school did we behave as clichéd high school girls as this.

Honestly I hate reading a new adult book that has more fantasy in it than a fantasy book...

Positives: Tries to pass good messages:
"I could blame the alcohol… but no. Alcohol removes inhibitions. It doesn’t trigger criminal violence where there was none before."
Victims aren't to blame and it defends the importance of self defence

But then there's small things that go against logic!
 A girl who was almost raped, goes to a party not soon after, and drinks like a thirsty camel?
Would someone who had been in her situation do something like that? Would she be comfortable doing it?
"Two hours later, I’d danced with too many guys to remember, dodging wandering hands and turning down any drinks not handed to me by Erin."
Even by taking this type of precautions?

Then there was the bad guy, always lurking around in the hope of raping Jacqueline.
 Also, she attended parties where she knew he was going to be was unbelievable tstl.

Finally, the last part of the story...

This is what somewhat redeemed this book for me.
The author gives us a kick to the gut with Lucas' past.  Finally there's enough depth and complexity to his character to give this story some needed soul. It doesn't automatically correct everything that is wrong with it, but it makes some things easier to understand.
“Choosing to be with you isn’t a difficult decision, Jacqueline,” he breathed, pulling back one final time to stare into my eyes. “It’s easy. Incredibly easy.”
Bottom Line: Well, I can't say for sure, but after the way this ends, I may still give the second book "Breakable" _told from Lucas' point of view _a reading shot.

Buy  "Easy"

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