The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski

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The Edge of Never by J. A. RedmerskiThe Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski

Series: The Edge of Never #1

Rating: 0.5 of 5 stars

Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.

Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.

With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.

But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?

Let me clarify for anyone who can’t tell: I’M RATING THIS BOOK ZERO-POINT-FIVE STARS.

I think it’s safe to assume that I didn’t really like this book. And the only – and I mean, only – reason I’m givin’ it a half-star is because, well, Texas. For that matter, south Texas. South Texas is my home (Galveston is where Andrew lives, and I’ve actually been there quite often growing up) and even though Texas is so big, it for some reason almost never gets written into any of the books I read. So, yeah, for south Texas, this book gets points. It helps that the character who lived there, Andrew, is actually the only likeable thing about this book.

Aside from that, though, I’m afraid there really isn’t much, leaving The Edge of Never at a black-sheep rating of 0 stars (without the Texas element). Oh, and this:

Maybe I’ll go to California. Or Washington. Or, maybe I’ll just head south and see what Texas is like. I always imagined it a giant landscape of dirt and roadside bars and cowboy hats. And people in Texas are supposed to be some kind of badasses, or something. Maybe they’ll stomp the crap out of me with their cowboy boots.

p. 42

I wasn’t really sure how to feel about that passage. My initial comment on it was Hell yeah, we will (because I legit do own cowboy boots and I legit did wanna stomp the crap outta Camryn, the narrator, especially after I read that), but then I realized… what kind of fuckin’ stereotype bullshit is that? “See what Texas is like”? Google, woman! Jeez. No need to resort to old westerns for a visual.

Then, just when I was willing for forbear her that, she goes and says this about Andrew, who’s beautiful, apparently:

He nods once. “Yeah, I was born [in Wyoming], but parents divorced when I was six and we moved to Texas.”

Texas. How funny. Maybe all of my crap-talk about their cowboy boots and reputation is finally catching up tome. And he doesn’t look like he’s from Texas, at least, not the stereotypical way that most people assume everyone from Texas looks like.

p. 55

I’m sorry, maybe I’m a little slow on the stereotype that “people from Texas” project, but what exactly am I “supposed” to look like, being a Texan? This confuses me. My note for this highlight was, Jesus, Cam, be an adult. No joke.

Anyway, poor portrayals of Texa(n)s aside, this book has a whole slew of issues that I don’t normally address in reviews, but it needs to be address here. Because, for some of the crap that this book pulled off, to have all these other demerits stacked against it prevented me from looking past the bullshit and enjoying it the way so many others have. Let me count the ways.

*going through my highlights and notes*

The old lady and I depart ways in St. Loius […]

p. 45

Aahhh, there we are, a simple word choice error. A novice mistake that I can usually forgive if it only happens a time or two. But then it happens again.

Of course, Camryn’s watching me do all of this with a look of revolt […]

p. 81

And again.

“Really?” he says, “And you wanting to ride around alone on a bus, not knowing where the hell you’re going and putting yourself in danger; that doesn’t seem imminently as important to you?”

p. 112

That one’s a bonus; it’s got a few glaring mistakes that make me cringe.

Naturally, as the book went on, there were fewer errors, but holy shit, if I had had the time and energy to document all the mistakes from the beginning (especially in the beginning – those first few chapters were painful), my entire review would consist of them.

Maybe I wouldn’t get so upset if I weren’t a writer myself, but I fuckin’ pride myself on my craft. I can tell the difference between words that may sound the same but mean something toooottally fuckin’ different (i.e., “revulsion” is what you were goin’ for, J. A. Redmerski, as opposed to “revolt”). It’s simple, silly things, like not knowing when to place a period in the space of dialogue (i.e., “Really?” he says, “And […]”), that makes it hard for indie writers such as myself to be taken seriously before people even know what we’re capable of. And it’s for that reason that many readers won’t read indie writers’ books – they fear the unedited, uncopyread amassing of unpolished, proofread words within (i.e., “that doesn’t seem imminently as important to you?”). Those tiny mistakes give indie writers a bad name, a stigma, that’s hard to shake when it’s a continual problem within our sphere. Please. Consult a dictionary. Do a little of your own editing. And then pass the self-edited copy on to other editors. Other proofreaders. Please, indie writers everywhere, do yourself – and other writers and readers – this small favor.

/soap box moment.

So that’s not all, internally, that bothered me about this book – also its structure is disastrously lazy. Camryn narrates for the first 60 pages of the book, with no hint or reason, really, given as to the change of narrators at chapter seven. When I realized I had been swapped Camryn’s perspective for Andrew’s – with a gauche note that read “a few days earlier…,” no less – I actually got kinda mad. It felt like Throne of Glass all over again, which, honestly, it was – I had stuck beside one narrator for the first few chapters (this time, it was seven. Seven!) only to be forced unnaturally into another character’s head for no apparent reason that made organic, sound sense in the framework of the overall narrative. This entire book could’ve been through Camryn’s eyes alone, and we wouldn’t have missed out on anything, in the end. I seriously feel like J. A. Redmerski threw in Andrew’s point of view because she felt like it, whether it made sense or not.

And trust me, it didn’t – make sense – at all.

You know what else doesn’t make sense about this book? Camyrn being a glowing neon sign that apparently reads RAPE ME. No, for real, that’s how this book acts about Camryn’s being a pretty young girl traveling alone. Maybe I’m not pretty enough, but I have never – not ever – been assaulted for traveling by myself, and yet this book acts as though it’s the most commonplace, sensible thing to occur to young women. I don’t mean to downplay women who do get assaulted, but in the span of this single book – which is only about two weeks, maybe three total – Camryn is hunted down by like 4 different dudes in 2 different states on 3 different occasions. And the only reason given? It’s because she’s attractive. I wish I had marked down the exact passages when I was reading because I shit y’all not, the only reason given for Camryn’s apparent “vulnerability” to gettin’ attacked is because she’s too pretty to be by herself. Andrew has to physically assault every single one of these men who show any amount of interest in her because they believe she is alone therefore she is fair game – to rape.

What the fuck is wrong with this book?!

That’s not it, either, but I’ll let this one speak for itself because I do have an actual quote for it. Camyrn’s narrating, by the way.

She [the motel clerk, a middle-aged woman] pulls [Andrew’s card] from between his fingers and all the while she watches every little move his hand makes until it falls away from her eyes down behind the counter.

Slut.

p. 134

Yeah. This woman, who is providing them with rooms in a motel, just doing her goddamned job, is a slut for watching Andrew’s hands? I say again, what the fuck is wrong with this book?

There’s also this big situation throughout the whole book dealing with Andrew and how his father raised him and his brothers to suppress their emotions because “that’s what men do” or some shit like that that made me sick to my very core. I know it’s seen in a negative light in the book –

I feel sorry for him, for not being raised to believe that he can’t show the kind of emotion needed in a situation like this, or else it will make him less of a man.

p. 112

– but I don’t think it’s seen in a negative enough light that little boys everywhere are taught from an early age to be manly and quit crying and all this other stuff that is, like I said before, downright sickening. I can’t find the damned article I read a few weeks ago highlighting how that sort of destruction of sensitivity or, “femininity,” creates a bullshit facade of “manhood” which is really just absence thereof – oh, and violence; it creates a pretty well lubricated passageway to violence, too – but it is a GOOD one. Hopefully I can come back and link it because people need to understand that it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or if you’re a girl or if you’re something in between or if you’re neither, you can still have emotions without succumbing to societal pressures to repress them. Ugh. Neeeed to find that article.

And why, exactly, is Camryn’s sentiment above about feeling sorry for Andrew’s upbringing not enough to show these discriminations? Because of this, of course:

“You’re one of those guys who despise makeup and perfume and all that stuff that makes girls, girls.”

p. 121

Excuse the fuck outta me, Camryn Bennett, but there is nothing in makeup, and nothing in perfume, and nothing in “all that stuff” that makes any girl a girl. The only thing that makes a girl is her identity as a girl. If she looks like a girl, but she doesn’t feel like she should identify as one, then I can assure you, she is not a girl. The only thing that can determine one’s gender is oneself. So fuck off with all that “makeup and perfume and all that stuff that makes girls, girls” crap, any moment now, not gonna say thanks. Now.

And again, why the “boys don’t cry” moment above isn’t enough? Because of this – with Andrew narrating:

I check her butt out because I’d be an idiot, or gay, not to.

p. 151

Now, Andrew is a decent guy. He is actually really sweet and surprisingly caring and heartfelt and thoughtful and sensitive and generally kinda perfect. Actually, he’s perfect enough that I rolled my eyes a time or two, but I think it makes it worse the fact that even he, the most considerate and kindest man this book has to offer, feels the need to check out Camryn’s ass because otherwise he would be an idiot or homosexual.

I’m starting to think my ideas for gender roles are too much of a stretch for this day and age because – am I the only girl who looks at other girls? I am not interested in women sexually or romantically, but I still look at them. Does that mean I’m gay? Kinsey may suggest I’m a little less straight than others, but it’s not like I identify as such, so therefore I am no such thing. Andrew, on the other hand, is a man, therefore he must check out Camryn’s ass. The note I took down for this passage? I would expect no less from the men in this book. It’s like decent men don’t exist in this universe.

I’ve said so much about the contributing factors to this book that I’ve hardly discussed the book itself at all. It’s about a girl named Camryn who runs away from her home on a bus and meets a dude named Andrew who embarks on a road trip with her from Wyoming to Texas. It is extremely character-driven, and we spend a lot of time with the two of them just getting to know each other socially then biblically then emotionally, I guess. There’s drama. I rolled my eyes a few times. I skimmed a lot after the first time they had sex – there was a long, stretched out period of time where unicorns pranced around farting rainbows. I skipped it. Then the drama kicked in, of the Prodigy variety, and because I have no way of hiding spoilers, here’s the warning because I’m about to discuss it, a little bit:

Andrew has a seizure, Camryn finds out it’s because he’s been hiding (and ignoring) a brain tumor, she makes him get surgery, he falls into a coma during the surgery, and he has his brother bring her this long handwritten note about how much he loved her the whole time and he never told her because he didn’t want their trip to be “dark” or “anything other than what it was.” Holy shit. So Camryn reads this note and we the reader are supposed to assume he’s dead because in the next chapter we are visiting a grave marked “Parrish,” which is Andrew’s last name, even though I knew all along it would be his father (which was another ongoing thing throughout the whole book) because, with her last boyfriend having died, it would’ve been just too tragic, and oh whaddaya know there’s a baby on the way.

Yeah, I, uh… was kinda angry enough at this book to explain to my husband just how much I didn’t like it.

But there are some good parts about it. Because Andrew was a big classic rock fan, there was a lot of mentioning about some bad ass 70’s and 80’s songs until eventually I just set my classic playlist to shuffle and let it roll. It was nice listening to classic rock again, and it kinda put me in the mood to watch Supernatural (that’s another one – Jensen Ackles was mentioned in the first, like, chapter. No matter how horrible the book, mention Jensen Ackles, get points). Also, there’s this weird reluctance to conform to societal expectations and although Camryn went about it in a pretty counterproductive way she did break away from some norms of society and I pretty much got that. I’m not much of a “go with the grain” girl myself. So, yeah, she was stupid, but she didn’t wanna pander to others’ expectations of her and I actually kinda respected that. Then there’s this, which is probably the only meaningful thing to come from this entire book, and incidentally enough it comes from Andrew:

“Pain is pain, babe. […] Just because one person’s problem is less traumatic than another’s doesn’t mean they’re required to hurt less.”

p. 162

The rest? For the birds.

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