Book in Review: Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross9:00 PM
Author: Sarah Cross
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Summary via Goodreads:
An edgy fairy tale retelling of "Snow White" set in the world of Kill Me Softly for fans of Once Upon a Time and Grimm.
Faced with a possible loophole to her "Snow White" curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who's fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrificing the love that might kill her?
I don't know what to feel. I'm sad, I'm confused, I'm happy. This book was one gigantic mess of emotions for me, most of them conflicting. I don't know if I feel happy about who Vivian chooses to have a happy ending with. I'm not sure if I feel sad about the stepmother's fate. I don't know if Viv deserves to be happy. I don't know anything. It's absolutely frustrating, and I don't even know if I like that it's frustrating. For the first time in a long time, a book has left me so confused and conflicted that I don't even know if I liked it.
Let me take you through what happened to me while reading Tear You Apart. At first, I didn't like it. In fact, I nearly DNFed it. This story is an acquired taste. This world is not something that you just jump into. The mix of modern life with fairy tales is not something that is instantly likable. I'd compare it to beer (not that I drink beer) as the taste is not something you'll like at first, but the longer you drink it, the more you like it.
When I got to the part where Viv goes to a magical nightclub in the underworld, I started to get really interested. In fact, by the second time she goes back, I was hooked on the story. Jasper, the Prince Charming who invites her, is portrayed as the smooth-talking, not-a-necrophiliac, cool guy that you would definitely expect Viv to love. But then all my excitement dissipated once I got to know Jasper more because he becomes a selfish, happy-ending-obsessed douche. Sorry for the term.
Getting deeper into the book, I was shocked and sad and so, so, so confused. I can't say a lot without giving away something important. This whirl of emotions stayed even as the book ended. Normally, by the end of the book, I would have either decided on whether I like the book, I hated it, or if there was nothing special, but in this case, by the end of the book, all that was in my mind was 'uhhh, is this really the end?' And it's not like I was expecting some miraculous change that would suddenly make the book the best thing that I've ever read because from the very start, I knew that it would be very difficult to create an ending from this that would satisfy a reader.
Why did I say that it would be difficult? It's mostly because of the romance. Basically, there are two people that Viv could end up with. The first one introduced is Henley, the Huntsman. He would either end up killing Viv or letting her go to get her happy ending with Prince Jasper. Speaking of Prince Jasper, he's the second guy that Viv could choose. He's the Prince that lives in the Underworld. The one that I talked about a while ago. It's quite obvious that I do not want those two ending up together and that would be perfectly fine if not for the fact that I didn't want to have Viv end up with Henley either. Those two have the most toxic relationship that I've seen. Viv is always saying things that humiliate and hurt Henley. She flirts with other princes to see his reaction, but in the end, she comes running back to Henley and Henley accepts her with open arms. Henley dotes on Viv and I feel like she didn't deserve that. Viv may be beautiful but attitude-wise, she is not okay. It's hard to want them to be together with Viv and Henley having a relationship like that. Also, Viv is so selfish. Let me give you a scene that shows this.
It hit her, like water dousing fire.
“You’ll get married. To one of the princesses.”
“Now you’re the only one who can get married?”
“Don’t say that to me!” Tears sprang to her eyes. “It’s not funny. I’m not like you. I don’t want you to be happy if it means you’re happy with someone else.”
I'm pretty sure that typical couples say the opposite of this. I don't doubt that they love each other, but I do doubt that they will be able to truly live a good life together. This would've been excused if Jasper is any better, but he doesn't stand up for Viv in front of his father and he even, at one point, slaps her. He apologizes afterwards but my image of him is ruined forever. I found myself hoping that none of them would be chosen, yet I knew this would not happen. This is a book about fairy tales, after all. She's bound to get her happy ending one way or another.
I feel like too many things were crammed into this story and were so closely intertwined that it turned into a big mess of words and tales and princesses and curses. There were too many things to be accomplished and too many people that are opposing Viv.
There is one particular relationship that I wished the book focused on instead. That was the relationship between Viv and her stepmother, Regina. I found it very interesting. If the author had focused on this instead, I believe that I would have loved this book and given it such high ratings that it would have surpassed a mere 5 stars. Regina wants to be Snow White, she thought she'd be Snow White then it turns out she's the evil stepmother, and it totally breaks her heart. She loves Viv, Viv loves her, but because of the Snow White curse, she tries to kill Viv, ruins her life. I think that Regina's insane. It's hard for me to explain why. She tries to kill Vivian and no, she does not regret or take it back, but she's crazy because of that in a sense that she believes, deep inside her mind, that she's helped Viv by taking her heart, by turning her cold. Their relationship is so complex that you think it would be hard to understand but Cross' writing made you feel included so that everything seemed so deceivingly simple.
The reason why I did not DNF this book or give it a 1-star rating was because of the writing. Sarah Cross, I believe, is great at constructing worlds. The retelling of fairy tales is so overused, but she made this story seem like it is a fairy tale of its own. Not a story that is based off of Snow White, but a whole new world where there are the Cursed, the normal, the Royal, the people in the Underworld. She weaved wonderful tales and not only did she incorporate the Snow White tale, but she also had the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rumpelstiltskin, and a hint of the other classics like Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Sleeping Beauty.
Another thing, Sarah was completely brave in writing her story. She wrote it like no one else would read it, in a good way. She didn't hold back on her gory descriptions. She didn't back away from making her tale as complex, different, unique, and strange as it is. I love and respect that about Tear You Apart. I think that Sarah should try writing something that does not focus on romance as I feel that she would excel at this. She has the brilliance and ingenuity of a promising writer, all that she needs is an amazing idea that she can expand, explore, and finally turn into something great.
I recommend that you read this book because I feel like even if you hate it, you really won't. I may not have liked the book because of the reasons above but I don't regret reading it. If I was given the choice to go back in time and not choose this book or stick with my decision, I would still choose to read this book.
So, if you bothered to read this really long review, tell me what you think about it! Have you read it? Do you feel the same way? Leave a comment!