This book originated as a very popular story posted on Wattpad, an online writing community. The writer was a 17-year-old teen from Aberdeen, Scotland. It was picked up by publishers and the author was signed for a trilogy, of which this is the first volume.
The story has a lot of fans, who presumably find appeal in the fireworks between the 16-year-old protagonist Eden and her “bad boy” stepbrother Tyler. There is no blood relationship between them, but the very thought of a family association seems to be enough to titillate both the characters and the readers.
Eden Munro has come from Portland, Oregon to live with her dad in Santa Monica, California for the summer and to meet her dad’s second wife and her three kids. She hasn’t seen her dad in three years, and is still angry at him for walking out on them. The wife Ella and the two younger kids seem nice enough, but Eden is determined not to like them. She has an easier time hating Tyler, who is 17, and badder than bad (but good-looking, of course).
Eden immediately makes new BFFs, one of whom is dating Tyler. The primary interests of these BFFs are shopping, drinking, breaking the law, ignoring and/or defying parents, and “hooking up,” all of which are done to excess. Eden quickly joins in, in spite of her initial reluctance, dismissing her decision to do so as just “succumbing to the type of peer pressure that my fifth-grade teacher used to warn me about….” It takes no time at all for Eden to be one of the gang.
Eden also occasionally takes time to “carry out tedious womanly duties involving shampoo and razors.” Womanly duties? But this fits in with the way Eden muses about Tyler: “I love it each time he completely dominates the situation.” Don’t get me started.
Eventually, and predictably enough, Tyler and Eden get together, and the “reason” for Tyler’s problems emerges. [“Problems” is shorthand for outrageous behavior – going way beyond rudeness and cruelty to include theft, drinking and drugs.] And of course, Tyler’s “romantic” feelings toward Eden are expressed as only a “bad boy” can: “I’m saying that I’m fucking attracted to you, alright, Eden?”
But Eden senses that all this obnoxiousness is just a facade to hide Tyler’s weakness. And beneath that facade, Eden claims, “lies attraction.” Too bad they’re related. Wait, they aren’t. But apparently, neither of them passed biology.
And are there really parents that permissive in the face of such flagrantly awful behavior from their kids? Maybe there are, but the mother, who is a civil rights attorney and seems quite caring and concerned, doesn’t seem to fit the profile. On the other hand, she allegedly passed four whole years oblivious to what was going on under her nose. But again, also not very believable.
Evaluation: I may find fault with the plot, but there is rabid love for this book all over the place. If you are into bad boy romances characterized by attitudes of female submission, perhaps you will love it as well. And the writing is not bad for a young girl.
Published in the U.S. by Sourcebooks Fire, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., 2015