A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Four Doors Down by Emma Doherty

on December 13, 2018

Wow, this book annoyed the shit out of me. It’s theoretically YA — ie, takes places in high school and doesn’t get super explicit — but it’s got pretty much every negative aspect generally associated with the “New Adult” subgenre — like a controlling, asshole hero whose “devotion” to the heroine is supposed to give him a pass for all his terrible/creepy behavior, including trying to forget her by treating other girls as disposable. And of course terrible other romantic interests to make the main characters look good by comparison. (Doesn’t work.) And every character other than the heroine knowing that the hero is really a wonderful guy who’s just madly in love, and abetting him in his crazy-making behavior. (I read reviews of the sequel to this, which shocked many readers by being very dark NA, in exactly the most obvious, cliched way for NA to be dark. I’m not a bit shocked or surprised.)

The story: neighbors Becca and Ryan were best friends until middle school, when he got in with the popular crowd and publicly rejected and humiliated her. He then cemented their status as enemies by very nastily bad-mouthing her, which she overheard, and generally acting like a jerk every time they interact. So yes, this is a “he teases you because he REALLY LIKES YOU” story.

Pretty much everything that happens in the story is Becca describing being at school, when suddenly Ryan appears and they interact. Or sometimes she’s at a pizza place and Ryan appears. Or at a party and Ryan appears. They only thing that happens more often than Ryan appearing is someone smirking. Usually, but not always, Ryan.

I’ll give it this, it’s a pretty engaging story before the repetitiveness becomes obvious. This wasn’t just a hate read; I was interested, and stayed up late to finish it. And I liked Becca’s assertiveness. Her refusal to take any shit was great — until every other character in the book started to get pissed with her because she wouldn’t see how incredibly IN LUV with her Ryan really is. Every time her inability to cut him any slack whatsoever got annoying, he did something obnoxious to justify it.

We don’t see Ryan’s point-of-view until the end, and when we do, it doesn’t help much. He fell in love with Becca after she got hot, what a prince. He makes no real effort to mend fences with her honestly, despite creating many opportunities to do so. What a shock to know he’s going to be a huge asshole in the next book too.

And yeah… I’m gonna read it.

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