Bad Romeo is an addictive New Adult novel by Leisa Rayven.
Cassie Taylor was just another good girl acting student. Ethan Holt was the bad boy on campus. Then one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing onstage, Cassie and Ethan’s epic romance seemed destined. Until it ended in tragedy when he shattered her heart.
Now they’ve made it to Broadway where they’re reunited as romantic leads – and their passionate scenes force them to confront their past relationship. For Ethan, losing Cassie was his biggest regret – and he’s determined to redeem himself. But for Cassie, even though Ethan was her first and only great love, he hurt her too much and she doesn’t think she can ever trust him again. The trouble is, when it comes to love, sometimes it’s the things that aren’t good for us that are the most irresistible.
Okay – so I was meant to be writing another review right about now, but I pushed this one up to the top of my never-ending To Review list because I just have so much to say. As soon as I finished reading this book, I tweeted that I…
And yes, I can’t wait to share my thought. But perhaps that cute little red heart fooled you – not everything I have to say in this review is nice. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very addictive novel and I’ll be reading the next one in the series, but it was very problematic. I cringed more times that I care to mention while reading this book and while, on the whole, it didn’t make me want to stab my eyes out, it did have its moments. Oh gosh. Here we go.
Let’s start by saying that this book isn’t just Young Adult fiction. It’s New Adult fiction… Which it would have been good to know before I started reading this book. It’s not like I don’t like NA fiction, it’s just that I haven’t read it. Like, at all. So I was a little surprised by how much talk of sex there is in this novel? And profanity? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to be all conservative or anything, I was just surprised by what I found myself reading. The first few pages were completely hilarious, though. I fell in love with Rayven’s writing style and I loved the humour within this novel. Unfortunately, I found that as the novel progressed, the humour was replaced with more… ‘sexy talk’, I’ll call it. I’m sorry, but I’m just not into reading about people admiring the anatomy of another person on every single page of a novel. It just gets repetitive.
But that wasn’t the only thing that I found repetitive. At first, this novel felt really refreshing and exactly like the type of book I should be reading. It felt like a while since I read a real romance-heavy book, and I was excited to venture into that genre again. However, every chapter felt the same towards the end. Cassie wants Ethan. Ethan wants Cassie. Cassie kisses Ethan. Ethan says he’s not good for her. Cassie gets sad. Ethan regrets his decision. Repeat. Oh my gosh – SNORE. But the worst part is – I was still really addicted to this novel. I don’t know what it was that made me keep on reading, but I actually read this book in less than two days. Was it the need to know if they were ever going to actually get together? Was it the need to know how long it would be before their proper kiss? I don’t know. All I know is that I was completely sucked in.
Okay, time for #Problematic Point One. Open your books to page 38, kiddos. Maybe I’m too sensitive, but that casual talk about self-harm is really not on. Self-harm is a serious problem, and I feel like the author trivialised it here. That was the only instance of self-harm that appeared in this novel, and I felt like Rayven almost used it for comic relief. Like, look at the strange array of people we have in this acting class! This girl cuts herself for fun! The conversation these two characters had here honestly disgusted me. I feel like Rayven had absolutely no clue what she was writing about, and it felt like she had no experience with this issue or knew how to deal with it sensitively. If you want to see a good example of an author that writes about characters who have struggled with self-harm realistically, look no further than All of the Above by Juno Dawson. That girl got it right. Rayven should be ashamed that she thought writing about self-harm in that way was a good idea.
Right. Onto #Problematic Point Two. The idea that people can be assholes just because they had a rough upbringing or their parents don’t approve of some of their life choices. These things never excuse someone’s behaviour. Sure, they can play a role in the way someone behaves, but that doesn’t mean that the person gets a Get Out of Jail Free card to use every time they do something nasty or say something insulting simply because of their ‘tragic upbringing’. The idea that Ethan could get away with treating Cassie so unfairly was really problematic. Rayven should have been preaching the ideas that people should try to be the best person they can be despite their past, not be an ass because of it. That’s not how life works. Every time Ethan did or said something troublesome towards Cassie and she would forgive him as soon as he kissed her and everything would be fine, I would cringe. The amount of times I wanted to throw this book out a window because of that precise point was unbelievable. But I managed to refrain myself, because, you know, it has a cool cover and I’d kind of like to display that on my shelf.
Finally, #Problematic Point Three. The use of stereotypical characters as the roommates for Cassie in both the past and the present was annoying, and, quite frankly, problematic. Just the general idea that these people were used purely for the development of Cassie’s character irritated me. They had no other life, besides popping up at the convenient times to help Cassie out or to provide comic relief. They had no life goals, no aspirations, and no backstory. They were just kind of there. And of course her guy room mate had to be gay. Don’t even start me on how stereotypical and problematic that is. For once, I would love to see a novel were the roommates of the characters are actually whole, developed people. Please. These characters deserve lives, too. Don’t just forget about them because you’ve got more ‘interesting’ things to write about.
Now it’s time to talk about our two main characters. *smashes head against desk* Okay, let’s go. First of all, I hated both of them. Just being honest with you. It’s midnight as I’m writing this and honestly, now’s the time when I’m most honest. No wonder I write all my book reviews at this time of day. That way, you’ll always know you’re getting me when I can’t be bothered sugar-coating things and I just call them as I see them. Let’s start with Cassie. She was unbelievably annoying. Honestly, she felt like a six year-old. She was a spineless, whining, ignorant brat who was desperate to be loved by everyone. It felt like she had no personality because she would mould herself into what other people wanted her to be. Her whole persona felt fake. If given the chance, I would not hesitate to slap her.
Ethan was equally annoying. Actually, probably more so. He was a guy that just really needed to be punched in the face. As the novel progresses, the author tried to convey him more as a hopeless soul, tortured by his painful past – as someone who is desperate to be loved by so scared of being hurt again. And all I could see was the word ‘Asshole’ stamped across his forehead. I don’t care how miserable his past was because it didn’t excuse the disgusting way he acted. He’d be all over Cassie and then tell her he wasn’t good for her, then do the exact same thing the next day. His mixed signals felt like he was trying to manipulate Cassie into wanting him even more. And honestly, I saw no connection between these characters. Sure, I’m not denying that they constantly wanted to rip the clothing off the other person, but that didn’t really mean much to me. I wanted them to forge more of an emotional connection to one another, and I only briefly saw that when we learned of Ethan’s past. Though, that moment was overshadowed by how much I wanted to punch him in the face.
Lastly, the jumps between the past and the present felt a bit clunky. I could never really tell where we were without flicking back to the start of the chapter because there had been no character growth in either Ethan or Cassie. They were exactly the same, which was very frustrating. So instead of seeing how far these people had come, it felt like I was reading the same story twice. Thrilling, huh? But in saying all that negative stuff, I was still utterly addicted. There was something about Rayven’s writing that always left me wanting more and desperate to find out what happened. Though, if you decide to read this book thinking you’ll be getting some answers, don’t hold your breath. This novel leaves you on a cliffhanger that makes you physically unable to not pick up the next book. And I do hope the next book is better than the first. Let’s cross our fingers for less than three #Problematic Points next time, yeah? I’d give Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven a score of 5 out of 10. I’d love to know if you’ve read this book or if you think you will / won’t be reading it based on some of the points I’ve raised!
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!