Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown Review
I have to state this: I loved Hate List. It was one of those books I went head over sneakers for (I don't wear heels). I cried during it and I keep it by my bed like all other books I really love. Bitter End is there, too. But halfway through the book I was having so many Hate List flashbacks, I couldn't help it. The only reason I bought Bitter End was because of Jennifer Brown being one of my favorite authors even though she only has one other book out. But I loved Bitter End and I understand that and Hate List are two totally different books. Paragraph finished.
Alex has a tough life: Her mom ran off to Colorado and was in an accident knocking her brains out (she's dead), her dad's a walking depression commercial, her sisters barely speak to her, and she thought she could trust her best friends because they don't accept her new (first) boyfriend Cole. Everything changed when she met Cole.
This is what was going on inside my head while and when I read this book and wasn't having Hate List flashbacks: These songs were stuck in my head.
For the relationship I saw in my head with Alex and Cole, I thought of these two Train songs except not in the great way Train is, but all dark and twisted.
Yeah, not in a heartwarming, funky beat way.
Except not in the great sound way and being a great message. Basically this is other world evil Train way (OK crazy idea, how could there ever be an evil Train? No alternative universe Pat could truly be evil, just more alien looking.) without the cool cover art. Thank Agnosticism (heh-heh, no god, LOL) I didn't have "Drops of Jupiter" stuck in my head.
I also thought of the abusive part of their relationship mainly as one of those misogynistic rap or rock songs, I don't even have to name one you can just hear it already.
And Alex made me think of this song by Coldplay (from their epic NEW album released yesterday which sadly I haven't bought yet):
Except they weren't elephants (whatever). If you read the novel you'll understand why I put this song up.
So let's discuss the characters:
Alex was a believable character, especially in her relationship with Cole. The truth is, a lot of people in abusive relationships (guy or girls) stay in that relationship and let themselves be abused. And no, it isn't their fault, they don't want to be abused, they may be sluts (female sexual power FTW, down with slut/stud), and they did not enjoy it (I've heard all the exact same bullshit for rape, from ex-friends of mine whom I now refuse to even look in the eye). Alex was just like all those statistics, but at the same time she was also her own person, not someone on a PSA. I cried for her multiple times (such as when Cole called her a slut, when Cole pushed her and she had the accident to her face). Jennifer Brown made me cry again even if Alex is so different from Valerie.
Cole was a chauvinist pig who I also suspect is a homophobe (how many times have I seen this combined?). But unlike most chauvinist pigs in YA fiction that are male, he wasn't stereotypical. I hate all the misandrist, stereotypical chauvinist pigs running around in YA lit (I'm speaking to you Tara Hudson). Cole had a personality and if it weren't for what he did to Alex, you might actually feel bad for him. He lived in a dysfunctional family, with a suicidal mom, chauvinist pig father (who definitely was homophobic), and who abused them both. This reminded me of Alex Flinn's Breathing Underwater (a great read-alike) in which both of the main male characters were abused by their fathers and take it out on their girlfriends. It's true, many people who are abused as kids often grow up to abuse others, like their spouse or kids or both. That's what Dave Pelzer's mom did to him and luckily for him he never did it to anyone else. But that doesn't always happen. At first I thought they fell in love too fast, but then it got more drawn out. Cole was too a believable character. I was even crying for the other girls he abused.
Beth and Zack are the two best friends you've just been wanting. They're understanding, stick up for you, and you can trust them. I love how abstract the characters are, at first Zack was the stereotypical pervy stud but then when it was revealed he'd never had sex before I almost went crazy because it was the last thing I'd ever expected. I couldn't help but love it. And Bethany was also great and one of those girls you just want to hang out with. I loved them both.
The side characters were also great, showing they aren't wildly unrealistic, but more like your neighbors. One of the things I like most about Jennifer Brown is that she makes the characters real and even gives a human side to the antagonists who do inhumane things (wait, was Nick the antagonist of Hate List? He may have started a school shooting and all but I just couldn't see him as the villain.).
Colorado was a main part of the story and I was having Julie Anne Peters flashbacks (I can't help it almost all her books are set there). Alex wants to go to find herself and her mother and I could relate to the whole finding yourself, finding others thing and it helped me relate to her even more, proving how human she is.
The plot was realistic and very every day life. It wasn't crazy and definitely hits close to home. I was scared of not liking this, but I did. Everything I could picture happening, the abandonment at the party, what happened after the basketball game, everything.
So will I read Jennifer Brown's other novels? Yes.
4 out of 5 stars. Read this, it's a great book to read after Hate List.