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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Emery's was raised to be the perfect daughter. Pretty and obedient, she knows better to ever question her parents or act anything less than perfect in public. Now, at 18, she is leaving for college, against her families wishes. She's not going far, a mere hour away, but the freedom is enough to see that the world she has been raised in is drastically different than the outside world. Ryler looks like the typical bad boy. He's tattooed and pierced and plays the strong silent card pretty well. That's pretty easy for a mute guy to do. Society has labeled him as dangerous and he is determined to get away from that label and start over. Step 1? College far from home. And then he bumps into Emery and the connection is immediate. She dumps shredded paper on his head and the few tidbits he read astound him. It's like she is writing directly to him. As the two are drawn together, will their pasts tear them apart or will they fight to stay together?
Emery was entirely astonishing. This girl has been abused for her entire life and she never even realized that there was any other way. There are loving parents out there who don't strap their kid to their beds each night?
It's a shocking concept, I know. It's hard for someone like me to really imagine a life like that, but Sorensen does her usual amazing job of putting me in Emery's mind. She walks a fine line of raging against the abuse of her life and feeling honor-bound to keep her families secrets. Her fear is completely understandable. Her crazy family is definitely capable of killing her should she spill their secrets, but you just want to see her escape this life. Her attraction to Ryler is immediate. He's her opposite in so many ways, but they have so much in common. Also, the fact that this girl has never listened to music just flabbergasts me. No music? Nothing? No stupid pop phase? No epic moment of realization when you listen to your first great rock song?
The torture is bad enough. The emotional conditioning and the meds and forcing her to be with someone she really has no interest in, but to deny that simple pleasure? I have no words. I cannot fathom people this cruel and I hope to hell I never meet anyone like them. If I have one aim as a parent, it's to be nothing like them.
Ryler's past isn't much better. Bounced from foster home to foster home until he gets sent to juvie for something that is misconstrued by everyone. But that's in the past and he can't change that. He can look to the future and do whatever necessary to ensure a better one. If that means being an informant and having to do things he doesn't like to get there, then so be it. You have to give the boy props for his dedication to that end. Living with a record, especially one proclaiming you are violent, is far from easy. Even though Emery's past is much worse, you can't help but sympathize with him. He just tries to do what is right and help those he cares for and gets punished in return. He knows getting close to Emery is something he should avoid. The life he leads right now, it's not on he would want her involved in, but those words and the haunted look in her eyes makes it impossible to stay away.
VIOLET AND LUKE!
I totally didn't realize this was The Coincidence adjacent. I kinda felt like a moron because I didn't realize this even after reading scenes containing both Violet & Luke.
I know, I'm the lowest form of stupid. It wasn't until Greyson and Seth showed up that the light bulb clicked on. Seth? Greyson? OH! Violet! Luke! I haven't yet finished The Coincidence series, but I'm glad to see you guys will work it out...eventually.
At this point, I wholly believe that it is impossible for Jessica Sorensen to write a story I won't love. She's a master of the contemporary romance/new adult genre. She knows exactly how to reel you in and then hit you where it hurts. Especially with cliffhangers. I am very happy I never tried to read this before I got my grabby hands on the sequel because that ending was not good. In fact, had I not already had book 2, this might have gotten demoted a star. But, I did have the sequel and I recommend you do as well before attempting this story. I finished this on my kindle and immediately pulled up the next book. There was no waiting period or allowing the fact that it was already 1 in the morning to prevent me from finding out what happens next.
This novel is exactly what I've come to expect from Jessica Sorensen, which is awesome. Unbeautiful lives up to it's title. It's raw and ugly and heart-breaking, but beautiful anyway. Ryler & Emery have a lot to overcome before they can really be together, but it's worth it in the end. Trust me, I've already finished the next book and they make it to their happily ever after. What more could you ask for?