Hello all! I know I just posted a review not too long ago, but for once, I was able to binge read two books in the same week. With life happening the way it has been lately, I haven’t been able to read as fast or as much as I normally would, so this was a rare treat that I was fully willing to take advantage of. Anywho, up for review today is Volition by Lily Paradis. Numerous friends of mine had already read it, and they could do nothing but gush about this story. Throw in an intriguing cover, and I was sold on the whole idea. I had to see what all the fuss was about. In reading other reviews over on goodreads, a few have said this was plagiarized from the work of another author. That’s a (pardon my language) shitty thing to do, but for me, I hadn’t heard of this story from anyone else, and I already had it in my iBooks library, so I just went with it. Okay, I think it’s time for a review. I’ll give this book between a 3.5 and a 4. You’ll have to decide for yourselves if this is an actual book review, or if I’m just ranting my ass off because I finished this story at 3:30am and had to put my thoughts down immediately. Bear with me while I explain why this novel drove me to utter insanity. I despised it and I loathed the narrator, but I was supposed to, wasn’t I? I was warned in advance how awful Tate McKenna was. Therefore, bravo, Paradis. Your job is done, and it was done rather well.
I promise I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here, but let me explain. Much like Miss Tate, I love the “dark” in things (if you can even call it that), the macabre, Halloween, things others wouldn’t consider “normal” or “happy”. I’ve lost a laundry list of family members over the years to the point I have numerous drawers just filled to the brim with black clothing. At one point, I was going to a wake and funeral every week or every other week. What I’m saying in a round about way is that I could not identify with this girl at all.
I understand that we, as people, all handle death, destruction, and mourning in our own ways. Fine, no judgement there. However, after some kind of grieving period, the rest of us put our adulting pants on and move on with our lives, and maybe try to make those who we lost proud of us. Tate McKenna never does that and it pisses me off to no end. She’s not “dark” or unique in that aspect. She’s a child who wound up in a devastating situation one night, and spent her teenage years….. Being normal? There’s nothing else I could think of to describe her (or how about a brat?) because she acts the same way almost every teenager does. No, she’s not southern belle, debutant normal, but she drank, experimented with drugs, dated the bad boy, had unhealthy crushes of unrequited love, partied too hard with her friends, the list is endless. If Paradis had thrown in a bonus scene of Tate shopping at Hot Topic or something, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. I was kind of expecting it, honestly. I mean, don’t all rebellious, dark, but super deep teenagers shop there or something (I’m saying this as a fan of the store myself.. They have Doctor Who merch.. So don’t get mad at me here). I digress..
Most of her issues came from something that wasn’t even a thing. 99.9% of her problems had to do with this guy, Jesse, who wound up in her life after a chance encounter in first grade, and they both made it something it wasn’t. Shocker. She does something almost every young girl does at some point by making a mountain out of a molehill. In a nutshell, they were both absolute chicken shits. They always lingered in the peripherals of each other’s existences, but never acted on their feelings for each other for reasons seemingly unknown to the reader. At some point, in one of the “then” chapters, I thought it would all be explained to me. I kept waiting for it, but it never came. Therefore, all this bullshit about them being soulmates and ruining each other’s lives by not being meant to be made me want to reach for my tiny violin. Oh, and her friends who try to keep Jesse and Tate apart, but actually do nothing because they’re too busy drinking, sleeping with each other, or going to school in other states, they’re just weak enablers. It’s like an episode of Intervention. It just shouldn’t get that far.
Let’s drop another bomb (except not really), Tate decides to run away from her pain and suffering and somehow winds swept up in a new penthouse apartment in Manhattan (even southern money and a loan.. What 22 year old can afford to live that life solo in NYC?) and smack in the middle of the path of a dreamy Rockefeller. Oh, and she gets a job as a freelance writer straight out of the gate. Schyeahhhh, right. I’m going to insert a few MASSIVE eye rolls in right here.
In other news, Henry Hayden Rockefeller. Yes, please. American royalty, nice guy, he shows genuine concern and sympathy for the girl, and he’s a hopeless romantic at heart. He was the saving grace in this novel. He’d been through hell and back himself, but was living proof that life, love, and TRUE soulmates are out there. He’s just the degree of dark I can deal with (cmon, napping in your own casket at your family’s summer retreat? I kinda dug that a bit) and I’m glad he was around to kinda whoop Tate’s whining ass from time to time. I didn’t fully understand how they met on a plane and fell in love after two or three dates and got engaged after just a few short months, but I just left that as their business. To me, it’s completely unrealistic, but if I met someone like Hayden and he was into me the way he was into her, I’d probably marry him pretty quickly too. I can’t say for certain though until I’m in Tate’s shoes.
As I try to keep in mind, others may be dealing with more than you, and you don’t know what battles they’re fighting. I’m sooooo soooooo happy Hayden pointed that out to her. When Tate got into one of her moods, (Hayden vs. Jesse and her life is just the worst and she wants to die) Hayden was finally able to point out what I was screaming inside my head the whole duration of the story. She has a heart, she has choices, she cares about people and she has people who care about her. She had some shit happen in her youth, but who hasn’t? Things could always be worse. She has a name, she has a man with a name, she has friends, a roof over her head, and a job any writer would kill to have (although.. I wasn’t 100% on board with her as a writer for one of the most prestigious papers in the country). I was cheering for Hayden to be the constant voice of reason, and I just had to pray she wouldn’t exhaust him and drive him away because then she’d be royally screwed.
Needless to say, when Jesse lurks in the shadows for the millionth time (and at the worst possible moment), I held my breath routing for Hayden. I almost wished he had literally knocked some sense into Tate. He remained the rock, the adult, and the voice of reason among the shitty people Tate insisted on surrounding herself with. I was relieved when Colin and Catherine finally each grew a pair and told her to get her act together and grow up. They redeemed themselves in that aspect. Before, they were just feeding the issue and made them almost as intolerable as Tate.
The epilogue tied it all together for me. That little blurb from Maggie brought about the true meaning of soul mates. I wish Hayden’s mother referenced this chance meeting to Tate on her special day (we all know she had to remember and put the pieces together at some point), but for now, I’d just like Tate to look up the word “soulmate” cause she spent so much of this story getting it so wrong and it almost ruined her life. Oh well, that’s what kids do, right?
I loved it, I hated it, I loved to hate it. I can’t decide. If it weren’t for the ending, it would’ve gotten a hard 2.5-3 from me overall. I appreciate the author putting her soul on the page for us, but lord, did it have me wanting to quit or scream bloody murder for 600+ pages.
PS- as a massive Gatsby fan (and even writing my college thesis on the subject) I wasn’t entirely sold on the constant references to the story and to the marriage of F. Scott and Zelda. I didn’t see the parallels the way the characters did, I guess, but that’s the beauty of subjectivity. Personally, I cringed every time there was a reference because.. Just.. No. Not the same. Sorry, Tate and Colin. Final overall rating: four out of five stars