I was initially reluctant about the New Adult genre as a whole. That said, I was a big fan of Easy by Tammara Webber. It was one of those books that grew in my mind long after reading it. I loved Lucas and loved reading Jacqueline falling for him. For a few years it has remained at the crest of the genre for me, one of the books that I subconsciously compare other books of its ilk against. I loved it then and love it now so very much.
That said, while in the midst of reading Breakable, its sequel, I was reminded why Easy is not a perfect book. There are some writing quirks that I cannot ignore, some pacing issues throughout that make it a hard book to review…But it’s a good thing that I enjoyed reading this book just as much as the first book, despite the quirks.
* Spoilers ahead for those who have not read Easy *
Landon “Lucas” Maxfield is a moral center of purpose in Easy, but he wasn’t always like that. In fact, he had a very hard childhood following the death of his mother; a woman attacked, sexually assaulted, and killed while he was tied to a bed during the murder. Now, moved to his grandfather’s house in the wake of the tragedy, he must try to find his way in new territory with a neglectful father and a past that haunts him.
Years later he grows up, makes a deal with an old family friend, Charlie Heller, and tries to start over. While in Heller’s economics class he meets Jacqueline Wallace, an intriguing young woman who turns his head from the very first second. Lucas watches her for several weeks, knowing that she is off-limits for several reasons. One is that she is dating Kennedy Moore, a man who doesn’t seem to understand the prize that he possesses. The second is that Lucas is the tutor for Heller’s class and dating a student crosses several ethical lines that he must not violate.
But he cannot get Jacqueline out of his mind, even after she has her heart broken. While at a party she is assaulted and Lucas steps in to break up the crime, releasing years of pent up aggression onto her attacker. This is just the beginning for them though it feels like the end of many things for Landon Maxfield.
Once again, I loved Lucas in this book more than anything. He is well-rounded and tragic, and his youth is fleshed out to back all of his present-day up. He’s one of those characters that mirrors my love for Heathcliff and my love/hate for Mr. Rochester (though, by no means am I comparing Lucas to either). There’s a poignancy in his characterization, a brilliant subtlety that obliterates me as I read him.
Jacqueline, however, I was a bit disappointed with in this book. In Easy the point-of-view was hers and she spent much of it feeling sorry for herself and longing after Lucas. In this, now shifted to his perspective, we have even less of a view of her, if that is even possible. Yes, Lucas does pine for her. Yes, he does spend a large portion of his time fixating on her…but she isn’t present in any of these scenes that she is actually in. She’s wooden and distant and says very little. I don’t know if this lack of presence implies a thoughtful depth or a perception far beyond the subtle nuances of Lucas’s personality but there it is. Even with her development she seems remarkably undeveloped.
Lucas, on the other hand, is dimensional beyond belief which leads me to one, inevitable conclusion…that these books are always and have always been about him and him alone. Even his budding romance with Jacqueline stands secondary to his past, a past that Webber thoroughly explores. He goes through a period of bullying at the hands of a young man who later becomes his best friend (Boyce Wynn, the main character in the follow up book, *Sweet). He gets into drinking and drugs and tries to lose himself in all manners of pain. He falls into bad relationships, always searching for the wrong one. Lucas’s journey is moving and powerful and, at every instance, caressed by grief…even his tender courtship with Jacqueline.
But these two together…these two…simply put, they are the reason that I continue to read New Adult, for characters like this. I am mad about these two and the world that they inhabit. I long to see their future together.
4 out of 5 stars.
* In reference to the sequel, Sweet, I am afraid that, for the moment, I will be abstaining in reading the book. Boyce is not a character who impressed me. Not at all. There is a scene very early on in their history where Boyce mentions a young woman and what he would like to do to her and Lucas (as Landon) physically fights him to set him straight. The fact that he says he would “rape” a young woman does nothing for me. I know that it’s plot derived and that it is meant to set Landon off, but it also set me off and is a trigger word that I cannot easily erase. Though Boyce improves through the rest of the book he never becomes less of an arrogant, flippant ass than he is when he makes that statement, no matter how much abuse he has suffered at the hands of his Father. I don’t find him intriguing and I am not convinced that he is (or could be) sexy enough to draw me through an entire book with his as the main love interest, no matter how intrigued I am by her. In Breakable, Pearl Torres is another classmate of Landon’s, a young woman who starts out awkward and then blossoms in high school, becoming friends with Melody (a passing flame of Landon’s) and growing into her sexual appeal. She is also the smartest girl in school. Seeing her pitted against Boyce intrigues me, but I still can’t forgive him for such a reckless, insensitive statement. I do not plan on reading the book.
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