March 19, 2013

Review: Wait for You by J. Lynn, aka, Dammit, Authors, Stop Using Rape as Convenient Plot Devices and Write Something New!

Wait for You by J. Lynn
Warning: there will be spoilers.

When New Adult started generating buzz, I was equal parts confused and hopeful. The first few books I read convinced me of the potential of a category that I’m still trying to figure out where it belongs. I have talked about the subject before, so I won’t repeat it here, but I’ll say that while most have a dismissive and cynic reaction to these books, I’ve championed and tried to explain that no, NA is not a bunch of steamy YA’s.

However, the truth is that the more I read, the more disillusioned I become. The success of a few bred many similar stories that tried to reproduce key elements of the original, but with a complete disregard of the quality and care that made those first books so successful. The result is a bunch of novels that offer nothing new and that use serious topics as convenient sources of angst. Instead of true storytelling and concern for the craft and the readers, these books feel like an exercise in marketing and fan-service. Wait for You is a perfect example of this.

If I had to describe this book in a few words, I would say that it’s a poor copy of Tammara Webber’s Easy that uses similar tropes and themes, but fails to develop them in any meaningful way. This means that there’s rape, bullying and other serious topics, but their role in the story is to make the heroine sympathetic, the hero dreamy, and the plot over emotional and intense (but not in a good way).

Avery is a bit of a nervous wreck doing her best to go unnoticed. So of course she gets noticed by hunky Cameron, who happens to be her neighbor and classmate. He relentlessly pursues her, but she keeps declining his offers to go on a date, and in the meantime they become friends. Yet she’s almost a recluse, and it soon becomes obvious that there’s something wrong with her. And by this I mean that she keeps hinting at it in her constant inner dialogue.

The problem is that Avery was raped when she was fourteen and then endured persistent bullying, which culminated in a suicide attempt. Her rich parents more concerned with their reputation than with their daughter, made her drop the charges and sign a confidentiality agreement, so her rapist was free to spread rumors that everyone believed. That’s why Avery decided to leave everything behind and go to a small college. Needless to say, she never got help and she only confides in Cameron but not until almost the end of the book.

I don’t understand the need to make something as awful and tragic as rape even more dramatic by adding evil parents. Is this a way to make the heroine more sympathetic? Or is it a way to make the story emotionally manipulative and over the top? Have we become so desensitized and used to rape that the only way to have an emotional response to it is through exaggeration?

But the rape, the bullying and the attempted suicide barely get a mention in the book other than to emphasize how damaged Avery is and how understanding is Cameron’s response. She has no support system to help her deal with what happened, and she only gets (doubtfully) better when she falls in love. I’m not saying that someone’s partner can’t be part of the support system, but in this book it was yet another case of curing her with his charming personality and, oh yes, sex.

The issues don’t stop there. Avery has two best friends, one of which is the stereotypical sassy gay, and the other one a girl who is levelheaded, carefree, and seems to enjoy sex, but whose only purpose is to talk about boys. So if you’re keeping a bingo scorecard, now you can cross off “stereotypical and lazy portrayal of the only gay character in the book” and “fails the Bechtel test”. Worse, these two truly care about her, yet their role in the story is that of the romance facilitator. They are nothing but plot devices. And the best friend isn’t even the sequel-bait character; that honor goes to the very minor character that was in an abusive relationship.

On the positive side, Cameron is a great hero who supports, understands and respects Avery. He is protective but not possessive, and overall I thought he was sweet and very likeable. He doesn’t escape some stereotypical character traits, but a book that features a scene where the heroine hides behind the curtain of her hair, is bound to be ridden with clichés and stereotypes.

The book has a somewhat positive portrayal of sex. At one point Avery discovers masturbation and there was no slut-shaming. But I’m also conflicted about it, because the book has a lot of explicit sex that I thought was unnecessary. I still believe that NA shares a target audience with YA, so adding sexual content to these stories makes me uncomfortable, especially in books like this one that don’t need it and would have been just fine with milder or fade-to-black scenes. But again, sex sells. So perhaps the detractors are right to say that NA is nothing but an excuse to add sex to YA.

Ms. Lynn is a talented writer, but Wait for You isn’t a good book. It certainly is more than a fairly competent copy of the latest trends; I mean, I’ve read some stuff I wish I could un-read. But unfortunately, I still have standards and I’m not willing to give this one a free pass just because it's entertaining. There’s certainly a huge market for similar stories, but I’m sure there are a lot of readers out there craving better books.

Review by Brie
Grade: A very generous 2
Sensuality: McSexy
Purchase: Amazon

Some things are worth waiting for… 
Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself. 
Some things are worth experiencing… 
Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed. 
Some things should never be kept quiet… 
But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her? 
And some things are worth fighting for…
Wait for You by J. Lynn
J. Lynn. February 26, 2013


  1. This is a great review and showcases what has gone wrong with NA. I'm a champion of the NA genre but I'm getting a little tired and cynical of some authors and publishers hijacking the genre and using it to create steamier books for a younger audience.

    For me, NA explores and discovers the journey of college age students. I don't mind if NA features sex but if that's all the book is about, then that's a big fail for me. I definitely won't be picking Wait for You.

    1. It's not just steamier books, but also a lot emotionally manipulative stories designed to elicit a very clear response. We don't find the books touching because we connect with the characters and their journey, we find them touching because it's impossible not to feel sorry for a character that has to endure so much abuse, all of which is pointless.

      I agree that NA explores a very specific moment in the life of its characters; it's about transition and adapting to new irresponsibility and independence, and figuring out life, the future and yes, sex. This book was filled with college students that never talked about their careers and goals. Just because the book is about college-aged people it doesn't make it NA.

  2. The rape recovery plot device really bothers me as well. It particularly bothers me because so often the female lead never really learns to save herself--instead a new relationship makes things better. That's not to say that I don't think that a healthy, loving relationship can make a tremendous difference, but that alone is not a realistic portray of recovery from a very serious trauma. While I had some issues with the writing and plot holes in Easy, I did respect that the author allowed the main character to save herself and develop both physical and inner strength--it's too bad the imitators aren't following that lead.

    1. I agree that Easy wasn't a perfect book, but it had a very positive message and I really liked the way it dealt with sexual abuse. It was also quite over the top at times, and that's what the imitators are trying to reproduce.

  3. "but a book that features a scene where the heroine hides behind the curtain of her hair, is bound to be ridden with clichés and stereotypes."


    I have this book on my TBR - I think I bought it cheap a couple of weeks ago. I hear the author has just been picked up by a big trad publisher on the strength of this book so I guess it will more expensive really soon.

    Of course, now that I've read your review the book has just massively dropped down my TBR list...

    I loved Easy. It was one of the best books I read last year. I don't think any book is perfect though.

    1. And she wrote it in 20 days! 20!

      I don't think Easy was perfect, far from it, actually, but it wasn't a lazy copy of something else and it had a good message.

  4. Great review, Brie. Seriously, if this is what you get with the NA genre, it doesn't really make me want to pick up one of its books ^_^;

    I'm just so tired of all the authors jumping on the same bandwagon, going with the trend, hoping to be the next best-seller. What happened to originality?!

  5. This was a really great read. It tackles the very serious & heavy topic of sexual assault but Lynn manages to effectively add some laughter & comedy to lift the story. Dramatic, touching and a beautifully entertaining read! I am absolutely dying to read the next book!


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