Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem with Forever
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Hardcover, 480 pages, Harlequin Teen
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

My Review

Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her romances are hawt! Her heroines are relatable. And her heroes are so very sexy. Despite my love of JLA’s books, I’ve got to say that The Problem with Forever wasn’t one of my favorite stories of hers. It did spark a massive JLA binge-reading session, though.

This story starts out with Mallory, our main character, going to a public high school years after experiencing a traumatic event at her foster home. Because of this bad experience, Mallory keeps very quiet and rarely talks. Now, this was one of my main issues with the story. While I understand that this dilemma is something that can happen, I feel like it’s become a big thing in YA to make the heroine suffer in her own silence. I’m just not a fan of this trope, especially since, even though Mallory is trying to break free from this silence, it always seemed like everyone was patronizing her. (She shouldn’t have to talk if she doesn’t want to, gosh darnnit!)

This brings me to the love interest of the story. Rider is a fine specimen of young man, and he was with Mallory those many years ago. Although Rider experienced the same, if not worse, traumatizing situation, he seems to have kept a somewhat level head. This bothered me. Why is it that the YA heroine has to be the damsel in distress? It’s discussed a wee bit in the book about how Rider had some issues because of his background, but not nearly enough. The story is all about how Mallory is a wounded animal who needs help, even though both kids grew up in a toxic situation. 
I’ll end that rant there because, while I had those character development problems with the story, I did enjoy it. The writing was good, and the other aspects of the characters were fun and/or realistic. I liked the artistic sides of Mallory and Rider, and I also enjoyed how hands-on the parents were. Oh! I’m also very impressed by the friendship that Mallory has with Ainsley in this book. I hope this friendship just continues to grow stronger in Ainsley’s story.

As for the plot of the book, it was a typical finding-yourself-through-young-love scenario. Sometimes this idea can get a little cliché in YA storylines, but I feel like JLA managed to make it work, especially since Rider and Mallory had lived and grown up together. It was natural for them to get close and mend their wounds through each other. Unfortunately—or fortunately depending upon how you look at it—because of this mending, I did shed a tear or two towards the end of the book, so be prepared for waterworks.

All in all, if you love Abbi Glines or Katie McGarry’s tales of problematic teenage romance, then you’ll adore The Problem with Forever. You’ll also be extremely irked to have to wait another year for the spinoff book to release.

*Note: I was gifted a copy of this book. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

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