Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Review: Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas
Publisher: Intermix Penguin
Publication date: February 18th 2014
My rating:  4.5 stars 
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My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he'll barely even speak to me.

But he still won't leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I've been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way in hell I'll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back.

I'm not going to let him bully me anymore.

***This novel contains adult/mature young adult situations. It is only suitable for ages 18+ due to language, violence, and sexual situations.

My Thoughts:
Bully was addictive! I picked up and finished it in one day.  It brought out a whole range of intense emotions, hooking me in completely!

Tate Brandt used to be best friends with her neighbor, Jared when they were young.  Riding bikes, climbing trees, and sneaking each other’s homes for sleepovers until Jared comes home from a summer trip at his estranged dad’s home.  At age fourteen Tate loses a friend and gains a cruel enemy.  Instead of happy smiles she gets cruel smirks and Jared takes it much further by making her life hell at high school. Rumors and pranks make pretty much everyone, but her friend KC stir clear of her, and so she’s thrilled to spend her junior year in France.  Tate gets some perspective and resolves to not let Jared bother her when she get back, and she starts to stand up for herself.  As a reader, I wondered what changed Jared and could the reason ever redeem him in my eyes? (highlight to see spoiler) He does and I ended up loving him!

Tate was so very close to Jared growing up.  She had her happiest moments, confided her deepest feelings with him and so it was a punch to the gut when he suddenly turned on her, relishing her pain and humiliation.  I have to say I was NOT a fan of Jared at all for the first 40%.  The worst part was that it didn’t seem like Tate had done anything to deserve this treatment.  I was worried that Tate was just going to be a doormat throughout the book, but very early on she stands up for herself and things begin to change.  Tate lands a few well placed barbs at Jared that even after all he’d done had me wincing a bit. He definitely deserved it and more, but you could tell it gutted him.  It’s so very true that there’s a fine line between hate and love and this is the case here.  Only someone you love and care for profoundly is able to inflict the most painful emotional injuries.

There is a romance here and before you say “how could Tate stoop so low?” read my last sentence again.  These two were deeply connected, and even though Jared hurt her so much she couldn’t help but have lingering feelings and mourn over the sweet boy and friendship she lost.  You could tell below the surface there was a simmering, magnetic attraction between these two, and it was passionate and HOT! But Tate doesn’t just let him back in after years of torment. I was seriously proud of her and how she handling things.  I was happy that Jared didn’t expect anything different:

"Tate, you're mine, and I'm yours. Every day you're going to realize that more and more. When you believe it without a doubt, then I'll have earned your trust."

Once more of Jared’s story is revealed and I understood his motivations I was able to forgive, just like Tate.  Her forgiveness was an ongoing process making it believable and something I could get behind.

One thing that completely ticked me off was the “friend” KC!  I wanted to SCREAM when Tate’s friend KC does the unforgivable and (highlight to see spoiler) goes out with Jared!!  I don’t care if we find out later one of the reasons KC did that was to get back at her cheating ex-boyfriend!  She violated the girlfriend code because any idiot could see that Tate and Jared were hung up on each other.  Even if they weren’t, Jared made Tate’s life miserable for years!! That alone should make him off limits!  Here’s where I wanted to slap Tate for being too forgiving! Thankfully that whole mess was short lived, maybe 15-20% of the book, but still!!

I love it when a story is able to bring out intense emotions in me, and Bully did that superbly! I was hooked very quickly, dumping all my other planned reads for it and reading until the wee hours of the morning to finish!


  1. I'm glad you liked this one. I.. was not so lucky and enjoyed very little in this novel. However, I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed the chemistry between Tate and Jared. And above all, I'm glad you managed to forgive Jared (which I could not).

  2. I am definitely intrigued now... I probably won't end up reading this because I am a little touchy about books dealing with bullying but I am definitely curious about how they get past what happened and the whole journey to an HEA.

    I am really glad you were able to forgive Jared as well and that you ended up loving this one as much as you did!

    Fantastic review, Rachel!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  3. A part of me really wants to check this out, but I'm worried I'll find it frustrating. Though I do like a book that can bring out intense emotions in you. That's far better than not being moved at all. :D You've got me curious, Rachel! I'm glad this book managed to keep you hooked. :)

  4. I unfortunately didn't love it as much as you did. I had issues with Jared and even though he did redeem himself by the end, I had a hard time forgiving him. I'm a huge grudge holder!
    I did think they had great chemistry together though and their scenes were hot!
    I'm excited about the next book though. It sounds really intense and Madoc sounds like he has an interesting story.
    And yes, I hated KC! She was a horrible friend. The third book is hers according to GR. I hope she'll grow on me.
    Lovely review, Rachel!

  5. I LOVED THIS!! I have to agree that is addictive for I also finish it one day. I was hooked from page 1! The sexual tension between them was just palpable and too intense not to ignore and gush. But same quibble, dislike the KC thingy UGHHHH. My fave part was Tate's poem. It made me tear up :( Fantastic review, Rachel! :D

  6. LOL I totally know how you feel Rachel!! I've been avoiding NA all the time but as soon as I started this one I couldn't stop reading it. I totally agree about KC, though. But still romance and chemistry here!!! Great review, Rachel :)

  7. Rachel! I know exactly how you feel! I haven't read Bully, yet, but I read Rival this weekend, and wow! I didn't want to like it, and assumed it would be a DNF, but I loved it! I can't wait to go back and read Bully and Until You.
    Great review!

  8. You're so right -- only someone who you love and care about deeply can hurt you so terribly. Still, I don't know how much I'd like Jared. I feel like I'd be fighting the urge to smack him multiple times. Great review!

  9. Sounds like an intense read. I am curious about how everything resolves. Don't you love it when a book grabs your attention like that and you can't stop reading?

  10. Woah, this seems like such a dark, gritty read. I'm not sure I'm up for this form of intensity, to be frank, but I'm curious to see how this relationship at hand undergoes its change from stage to stage. I'll have to put this on my TBR and give it a shot when I'm in the right mood. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Rachel! I can always count on you to introduce me to hidden romance gems and I'll never stop loving that. :)

  11. I've never heard of this one, but I'm a sucker for darker, grittier reads. There's something about them that just speaks to me. It sounds like the romance aspect of this really manages to bring a little light to the story, too, which I love. I definitely need to try this one. Great review, Rachel!

  12. I didn't realize I had this on my TBR ;)) I blame it on the cover - which is beautiful, though new to me ;)))


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