Book Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas

Rival

Title: Rival (Fall Away #2)
Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: New Adult
Length: 256 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis
Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…

She’s back.

For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…

I’m back.

Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me…

Grace Review
This book is a companion novel to Bully, and can be read as a stand-alone if you didn’t read Bully.  BUT, you really should read Bully!  It was in my top 5 list of favorite books of 2013.  I literally read that book in one day, once again ignoring my whole family.  It’s a miracle I’m not single again.  Anywho, when I finished Bully, like a lot of other people, I was dying to get in Jared’s head.  I knew there was more to his story, and I’m so happy the author shared it with us.  Two other people I was dying to know more about were Jax, Jared’s step-brother (we have to wait for his story), and Madoc, Jared’s BFF. If you read Bully, you know that while he joined Jared in the Tate tormenting ritual, he also challenged his friend’s intentions and said things were going too far.  That earned him a couple points away from the douche vote.  But he is not exactly in the good guy category, yet. In this book, he has a new target, his stepsister, Fallon.

Side note: Before I go further, it is important to know that Madoc and Fallon have completely different sets of parents.

Similar to Bully, these two pretend to hate each other, when it is clear to the reader, that there are so many other emotions between them (this story isn’t a repeat of Bully, have no fear).  Lust being one of their emotions.  Don’t use your judgie eyes, now you understand my side note.  Despite the anger flowing between them, they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.

It all seemed to start as a bit of exploration and fun, two teens learning about their bodies and how to please one another.

I’d wait for him at night, my heart pumping a mile a minute, knowing he was coming. Knowing that he was going to touch me. I loved all of it. I never wanted the sun to come up.

And while neither would admit it, feelings developed.  When they are separated, and lies are told to each of them, the hatred develops.  I’ll admit, it took me some time to connect with these two characters.  I didn’t understand the anger and how they just wouldn’t talk it out.  A lot of pain could have been avoided that way.  But hey, they’re teenagers so stupid mistakes are pretty much the norm.  As much of a dick Madoc is to Fallon in the beginning of this book, Fallon’s mind games were a bit frustrating.  She put Madoc thru the ringer on more than one occasion, to the point that I actually felt bad for him.

“This house, the cars, the money. It’s all an illusion. It’s like parading a victory when you missed the war.” She took a breath and whispered slowly. “Madoc has no idea who he is.”

Rival 3

While the relationship between Madoc and Fallon seems toxic, you can’t ignore the sexual tension between them.  And they can’t seem to fight it.

“Fuck the past,” he breathed. “I want to hear that you missed it.”

Rival teaser 3

When these two finally decide to talk, a lot of misunderstandings are explained.  I liked how they partnered to get back at Fallon’s Mom, who by the way, is a complete thundercunt!  But Jax takes care of her in shocking fashion.  That boy is T-R-O-U-B-L-E.  Did I mention that I’m dying for his book?

Rival Teaser 2

Parting thoughts: Since it was discussed publicly on twitter, I did want to address an issue some people had problems with in this book.  There is slut slamming in this book.  I know this trend in books bothers some people.  While I think the concept of slut slamming is awful, obviously, since I’m a woman, it didn’t feel out of place with this book.  Why?   This isn’t a story of some goodie-two-shoes young man.  He is your typical obnoxious young man who says some really rude things.  If you went to high school, any high school, you know this guy.  Madoc (and Jared) represent that guy.  You may not like them at first.  You may not like them at the end.  It is the author’s job to tell a good story.  Maybe she convinces you along the way that this guy is better than how he initially was portrayed, maybe she doesn’t.  I actually don’t care either way, although the latter is always better.  What I care about is a well written and interesting story that does sound like every other story out there.  And this author does that with each book I read from her, which is why I continue to be a fan.

– Grace

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