Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: 29 April, 2014
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss
Goodreads | The Reading Room

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.

At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.
Review by Nara

*Note: Quotations are from the ARC, so they may not be the same in the final copy*

I feel like I'm going to be quite the black sheep with this one (or reverse black sheep, I guess, seeing as though usually the "black sheep" is the one hating on a book everyone else loves), but I actually really enjoyed Tease. There was something refreshing about having such wildly dislikeable characters. Seriously, NONE of them were particularly likeable, except possibly Carmichael (the maybe love interest?). Carmichael is honestly just plain weird. And a total dork. Basically, he's fabulous. But enough about him. He's hardly in the book at all, seeing as though (thankfully) the romance is not a major thread in this story. Anyway, let's move on to our lovable protagonist, Sara.
   Everyone thought Emma Putnam was a pain in the ass. We didn't kill her, but I'm sorry, that doesn't mean we liked her.
   Emma was a boyfriend-stealing bitch right up until the day in March when she killed herself.
   I didn't do anything wrong, but she totally ruined my life.

Well, I'm so glad that our narrator shows an adequate level of regret for bullying someone so harshly that they feel the need to escape through suicide. Just wow. You can really feel the empathy Sara has for Emma. I think that there is one thing we can agree on as a collective community, and that is that our protagonist is a raging bitch. At the start of this book, there is just no hope of redemption for this girl. She doesn't see what she's done wrong, she doesn't feel the need to apologise, she doesn't know why she's on trial, she doesn't get why everyone is ostracising her: YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW.

Which is why when the redemption does eventually come in the end, it all seems just a little bit too easy. Okay, so I do admit that most sections of the redemption were pretty believable, but (possible slight spoiler here, so skip from now til the end of the paragraph if you want) WHAT THE EFF WAS WITH THE LETTER AT THE END!?! THAT WAS THE MOST RIDICULOUS LETTER I HAVE EVER SEEN.
Some further spoilery thoughts on the ending


Strangely, while I hated the protagonist (didn't even like her after the redemption), I really loved reading from her point of view. It was unique and it was confronting and it was awesome.

Anyway, back to the more believable and not-completely-ridiculous elements of the redemption, I think we do see this gradual inkling of regret that seeps through the narrative voice. Slowly (very, very slowly), Sara realises that what she did to Emma did actually have an effect on Emma's final decision, and I think she does truly feel some remorse. I must say, this was quite late in the book though, so you do have to wade through about 3/4 of the book before we get some redemption. And the statement Sara writes for her court appearance near the end of the book? Beautiful.
Something about this small glimmer of happiness feels wrong, but I can't think about that. I just hold onto the glimmer, the shred. I let myself feel a tiny bit happy.
Even though it kind of hurts.
Um, yeah. The above quote wasn't from the statement. It's just a random quote. I feel like statement quotes might be spoilery. But I had to show some of the amazing writing, so I chose that quote, especially because it does show you that perhaps Sara is beginning to understand the full impact of her bullying.

Well, if bullying (+ extremely dislikeable protagonist) is one of the things that turns you off books, I would probably recommend staying away from this one. I do see that 3 out of 3 of my GR friends who've read it so far have DNFed/1 starred it, and if you're the sort of person who judges books through the protagonists, then you're probably going to rate Tease in a similar fashion. However, if you'd like to try a very unique and honestly somewhat confronting book from the viewpoint of the "villain" of the story, do give it a go.

Really liked it

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5