Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Synopsis for Bully (from Goodreads):
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.
We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. 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 hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.
So I left.
I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.
But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down
Series: Fall Away Trilogy
Author: Penelope Douglas
# of Books: 5 (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, Aflame)
Until You is Jared’s POV companion to Bully.
There are some novellas in between the novels. Full list here
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Bully, Until You and Aflame follow Jared and Tate’s story; Rival and Falling Away focus on different characters. However, they all follow a chronological order of events.
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: getting Hot
Point of View: First Person (Single POV for Bully & Until You; but Alternate for Rival, Falling Away & Aflame)
Publication Dates: February 2014 – April 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook
**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
When I read the synopsis for Bully, I flashed back to my memories of elementary school. The whole idea that boys show that they like you by teasing you. Casual “teasing” is one thing but bullying is another–so while I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen in this book, I was curious to see what else was at play.
While I found the romance of the book to be predictable, I did enjoy the ride we take getting there. I didn’t find it boring to read because there are some interesting events that happen and make the book more entertaining. I also found it to be pretty mature considering I went into the book thinking about elementary school romances. There isn’t really anything “elementary” about Tate and Jared’s relationship.
Tate is a strong female character and I’m glad that she develops some backbone as the story progresses. However, I often found that she was trying a little too hard to be tough, so it came across as a little over the top. I also didn’t like how easily she was falling in love with Jared. Given their past, I understood where the feelings were coming from but if I was in her shoes, let me tell you that he would have had to work a lot harder to get back into my good graces.
I think what would have helped me get a better grasp on their relationship is getting Jared’s POV as the events unfold. I’m so used to New Adult readings alternating POV between characters that I almost get disappointed when I don’t get both. Fortunately, Until You is Jared’s POV.
I haven’t read it yet, but I am really excited to because I’m hoping to get some more insight into this mysterious character.
My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:
I’m really excited to read Rival. It seems like it is going to be really refreshing and Madoc seems like a really interesting character to me. Falling Away also seems really interesting so I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the rest of the series.
–October 25, 2014– Book #1.5: Until You
I finally managed to read Until You and it was everything I wanted to know about Jared. It was the perfect companion novel for Bully. I loved that it wasn’t just a retelling of Bully. It started a little before and ended a little after Bully but the events weren’t just regurgitated for the sake of creating another novel. It was extremely well done and fans of Bully will love reading Until You. I highly recommend that you read it after Bully but before Rival in order to get a fuller reading experience with all the characters.
–October 25, 2014– Book #2: Rival
Rival though, is my favourite of the series! I read it in one sitting and got so sucked into the story. It was packed full of drama and I loved Madoc and Fallon as characters. I enjoyed their relationship a lot more than Jared and Tate’s in Bully (but reading Until You warmed me up to them more). However, I was a little worried at the start of Rival given their past relationship. But as the book progressed, I was rooting for them all the way. I think it helped that we got both characters POV throughout the novel so you got a better grasp on each of them.
I am super excited for Falling Away and have been since I read Until You and figured out which characters were next.
–February 21, 2015– Book #3: Falling Away
Have you ever finished a book where you can’t determine how you actually feel about it? I’m not talking about indifference or the “meh” factor (as I like to call it) where it was just so-so and nothing all that exciting. I’m talking about a book that had its great moments but had not-so-great moments in between–leaving you happy but disappointed all at once? I give those books the “mixed feelings” tag on Goodreads and I create that tag for this book specifically.
I went into this book with high anticipation because I’ve been waiting for this couple since the first book. So I was a little disappointed that this book takes place a few years later but I let it slide because it probably was for the best.
But when I actually saw them together I had to double check I wasn’t rereading Bully because parts felt like a regurgitation of the first book. The heroine seemed super immature despite being 20 and the hero gave me the creeps a bit because he was a little too alpha. Which often made me feel like the relationship bordered on the unhealthy side of things. It was just that the intensity of their relationship, especially when they really had limited interaction before this book, was a little too extreme for me and it made me uncomfortable to read about. Which is why I had mixed feelings: sometimes I loved the couple together (they did have great chemistry) but other times the angst was just too much for me to take.
I also felt like there were too many things going on with these characters lives. Now, I like a lot of things happening in books and I understand that people lead complicated lives but this just seemed a little excessive to me. It kinda felt like the author decided to pile as much tragedy/drama into these character’s lives as possible and it was overwhelming. I really felt like this book was 50 (ebook) pages too long and I would have enjoyed it more without the super packed character pasts.
I’m not sure how I feel about Aflame. I really don’t think it is necessary but I will read it just to finish off the series.
–June 14, 2015– Book #4: Aflame
I was adequately warned about Aflame going into it thanks to the comments below. not that I had high expectations for it before I was told, but I think it helped me be prepared for what I was going to read.
I have mixed feelings about Aflame because I can appreciate what the author was trying to convey (young people make rash decisions). But I felt like Tate and Jared were thrown into a situations that would cause the most drama even if it wasn’t the most logical; and I found that to be frustrating because there really was no reason for the plotline we get. It also made me realize how immature and reckless these two are and how unhealthy their relationship is. I really hope young people reading this series realize this isn’t what a healthy relationship looks like.
Series Rating: 3/5
Bully 4/5 | [Until You] 4/5 | Rival 5/5 | Falling Away 3/5 | Aflame 3/5
This series takes your classic romance story and puts a darker spin on it. I’ve read a lot of New Adult novels but this series standouts because of the relationship between the characters. The classic “dark secret past” isn’t some random event that happened before the characters met their partner–it happened with their partner so the relationship dynamic is completely different. So if you enjoy darker high school/new adult romances, this is a great read to pick up! But it does lose its lustre as the series progresses and the relationships border on the unhealthy.