Tuesday, October 11, 2016

THE CRUELTY by S. Bergstrom

The Cruelty (The Cruelty #1)

The Cruelty

From Goodreads:
When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting. 

What I liked:
The premise drew me in on this one. I mean, 17yo meets Europe's sordid underbelly, what's not to love? Gwen/Sofia is strong and smart and willing to do whatever it takes to rescue her father. The pacing here is pretty quick. Not that I didn't put it down. I did, but every time I picked it back up I got sucked into the rhythm of the story. 

The character moved from place to place but I never felt out of place. The different settings are well drawn with a level of detail that immediately orients the reader. Not sure how they stand up for someone who lives in those cities, but I was sold. 

Action drives this book. For me, that's what kept me reading. The plot keeps rolling forward with plenty of ups and downs, and I needed to know what happened next.

What I didn't like:
The first few pages were hard to get through. Not for anything fundamentally wrong with the story, just for the character's attitude. The sole purpose of the first few chapters seemed to be to show us how different she is from other girls/anybody her age and garner sympathy because she's bullied.

I had trouble connecting to Gwen/Sofia. She felt, I don't know...maybe generic? Like another character could've slipped into the role and the story would've been the same. Her age and gender seemed assigned for the sole purpose of upping the stakes. [Spoiler: i.e., her age/gender introduces the threat of rape, though the threat is never actually realized.

My biggest complaint is that it doesn't feel like a YA book. Gwen/Sofia doesn't read like a 17yo girl. And, as a 17yo girl, things that happened should/would have more of an impact on her, and I didn't feel that from her character at all. Emotionally, she's very flat. 

Some of the conflicts seemed too easily resolved, and [maybe spoiler: there's a physical confrontation towards the 3/4 mark where her injuries are never mentioned again.]
It made an impression. I'm already on to reading new things and I'm still thinking about this one. I'm invested in the outcome and I want to see what happens next.  I'm also curious to see how the finished book differs from the ARC. I might need to take another quick look.

My Rating: 3.5 stars...maybe 3 3/4 ... so I'm rounding up. ****

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think. Drop me a comment and find me on twitter @chellypike

*I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

**The author is a self-important ass, but I didn't hold that against him while reviewing his book. 

***Personally, I still hold it against him. It's beyond idiotic to dismiss/criticize the very genre you write in.  And this book does not stand out as a stellar example of a YA novel. In my opinion, the story would've been better written and more engaging as an adult novel.

Happy Reading, 


 5* = OMFG loved it. Will read it again. Touch my book and I will cut you. 
 4* = Really good. Highly recommend. Miiiight reread. Maybe. Don't touch my book. 
 3* = Good. I liked it. Go ahead and touch it. 
 2* = Not for me, finished but struggled. Didn't connect. 

 1* = DNF. Couldn't do it.