“I had put her back together once, and I’d do it again…”
Starting this book brought back every single raw emotion left over from Carnage. Tears filled my eyes and every bit of pain from the ending of the previous book instantly slammed back into me. It’s hard to describe the emotions that this series evokes. They’re all consuming. They take hold of the deepest parts of your heart and don’t let go. Reading these books is a crazy, intense roller coaster ride from start to finish.
I alternated between crying and almost-crying for chapters and chapters on end. But I love that intensity. I really do. My favorite stories are the ones that make me feeeeeeeeel them and there’s no doubt both books in the Carnage series make you FEEL every single thing with every fiber of your being.
I’m not going to say anything about the plot at all. There’s literally nothing I can tell you about this book that isn’t a massive spoiler. Even character names are spoilers. I’ll just say that this is not a standalone and is the direct continuation of the story from Carnage #1. However, I can assure you that this fully concludes that story with a resolved ending (and epilogue) that has all the things you will want in it.
“I’m damaged goods…”
“You’re not damaged, babe; you’re just… You’re a beautiful young woman, trying to find her way in life after having the most devastatingly, fucked-up thing happen to her.”
I read this 400-page book from start to finish with almost no breaks. It kept me up til 5AM with my heart racing, unable to stop reading. This story just grabs you. It keeps you captive and takes over your life.
Unfortunately though (and this is where being honest is very painful), I had a few major problems with this book. But before I go into detail, I want to be clear on this first: this book contained everything I wanted and needed from this story. Everything. My issue was that it sadly also contained a whole lot more.
See, this is such a boundary-pushing series to begin with that I believe that comes the huge responsibility of keeping things believable. I really feel like the first book managed to create believable drama in a phenomenal manner. I’m in awe of this author for creating a story that intense without falling into the drama-for-drama’s-sake trap. Sadly though…. this book didn’t fully follow suit.
My honest opinion is that the situation that the last book set up had enough natural pain and angst in it to sustain an entire book. Even if this book had just been about the healing, it would have been emotional enough on its own. It didn’t need more drama. So, there were 4 plot elements that I felt went way too far and they took away from the story in a big way for me. I’m going to explain them here (without spoilers)…
The first two problems were scenes that I felt were totally out of character and only added in for dramatic effect. In my opinion, doing this sacrificed the integrity of the characters and story for the purpose of adding unnecessary angst. And, I’m sorry, but stupid drama is literally my #1 pet peeve of all time.
So, the first one was something she did in Australia. And just… no to that whole situation. This story did not need that. It was too soon, too much, and even though she stopped it quickly, it just really sat wrong with me. While the scene didn’t ruin the book or anything, I really didn’t like it. It felt unbelievable.
The next thing was what he did in that airport bathroom. — O. M. F. G. — That whole scene was just wrong. Why? Not because of what happened, but because he would N.E.V.E.R have done that in that situation. No fucking way. He has way more class than that and he’s not that desperate. Like, REALLY?? Ugh. And yes, I know that he’s a fictional character. But I’ve spent 800 pages getting to know him and he would not do that.
Honestly, I was angry but I was loving the rest of the book so much that, at this point, I was just planning to mentally delete this scene from my memory and move on. I thought this would be as bad as this issue got. But no. In the last 15% of the book, this whole thing was brought back in a huge, overdramatic way and this unbelievable issue was thrown into the spot light causing more unrealistic pain, drama, and angst. *sigh*
Ok next up was a plot element that I felt was “too much” to begin with, but my actual issue was that it was taken “too far” — like waaaaaaaaay too far. That type of plot twist is just eye-roll-worthy to begin with. My reaction when I found out about it was just really??? But I can deal with it existing. What drove it too far was the way it kept being used over and over and over again as a way to try come between them and the whole vibe around it left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. This book, this whole story, did not need that kind of drama. The story was strong enough without it and this just brought it down for me.
And the final big issue I had was an over-the-top, unnecessary source of drama inserted right at the end before the epilogue. In any other book, it wouldn’t bother me at all but… you can’t play the same card twice. Didn’t we go through this already?? It was deja-vu and we really did not need to go through it again.
*throws hands up in the air* —- It was just TOO MUCH.
I loved, no adored, the first book and I still do. I stand by the fact that it was one of the most impressive and stunning epic, emotional love stories I’ve ever read. It may have been unconventional and it may have been broken rules, but it was done right. It was believable. And I will always love it.
I would have preferred this book to be focused on dealing with the aftermath of that situation and on healing. The devastating consequences on her life from the end of Carnage would have already set a dramatic, emotional setting strong enough to have easily carried an entire 400-page book. This book needed healing. It didn’t need more drama, especially not this kind. Just, too much. But the Australia thing, the bathroom thing, the ‘surprise’ thing, and the twist at the end before the epilogue were just too much. Take those 4 things out of the story and (in my opinion), you’ve got a 5 star read. Heck, even a 5+ star read.
I absolutely loved the first 85% of the book. I was pretty much at 5 stars for most everything in that section (barring those 2 early things) but generally, I was loving it. However, the last 15% went downhill for me as the rest of the issues pretty much just all blew up one right after the other. It was too freaking much. I felt sick to my stomach (and not in a good way). So by the time the big swoony epilogue came around, I was still feeling so much negative emotions from the last 15% that it overshadowed the ending. Even though I was relieved that they’d found their happiness, honestly I just ended the book feeling shellshocked. I’m saddened by those plot elements because, without them, this would absolutely have been a top favorite of the year for me. But I feel like the integrity of the story was compromised to create this extra drama. And that goes beyond just ‘rule breaking’ for me. In my opinion, that’s a line that should never be crossed.
This is of course just my personal opinion. You might not agree with what I think or what the characters would do. Or, you might just not be bothered by it. Or, you might even love the hell out of all those plot points. There’s no right or wrong. However you feel is right for you.
It’s important to note that, apart from those 4 things, I totally loved this book. Genuinely LOVED it. So, I think if you can either look past them or accept them, that you’ll be just fine.
Here’s the bottom line: The story of Carnage has touched many readers’ hearts, including my own. It’s been an intense emotional roller coaster telling an epic love story. It’s been unconventional, rule breaking, and boundary pushing, but it’s also taken us on a journey that none of us will ever forget. These characters will forever be in my heart. They’ve left their mark on me and are truly unforgettable.
I commend the author for creating such a vivid world and for writing characters that have come to life so realistically. And, regardless of the details, I have to admit that this is one hell of a story.
I love the fuck out of you.
I will talk.
You will listen.
We will be together.
I’ve waited long enough.
Rating: 4 stars. Conclusion to story that began in Carnage.
Rating explanation: 4 stars is half way between the 2-3 mark and the 5 star mark. The reason I’m pushing it closer to 5 is that I loved 85% of this story and disliked 15% of it. The majority was fantastic and also, the story was complete. Meaning, if that 15% had been removed, the author would not have needed to add anything else to make the story 5 stars for me. So I’m averaging to 4 stars.