True - Erin McCarthy Don't take the 3 star rating as a good / bad sign. I just can't decide on this book. The premise is stupid. The characters do stupid things. Everyone's just kind of dumb, flailing around in their own filth and dumbness, saying dumb things and making bad decisions.

Basically, the book True is a teenager. Just a flaky, full of shit teenager looking for its place in the world.

And that would be fine, if only the effort weren't so lazy.

Authors, I get it. This New Adult craze is so easy to cash in on right now. It's an entirely new book genre with SEX for YOUNG PEOPLE. It's The CW of books, if you will. Once you get over your preoccupation with telling the SAME STORY of two pretty, emotionally damaged people fucking, I'm sure quality will come rolling out of the genre like the chocolate in Lucy's Famous Chocolate Scene. But let me tell you my unwelcome opinion. Spinning out the same troubling story over and over again is silly and lazy. I don't care how many mind-blowing orgasms you give the heroine or how TOTES AWFUL the hero's life is. You can't simply sprinkle a book with dark themes and expect it to work itself out. It won't. It'll just end up looking melodramatic and stupid. Kindly put some effort into weaving together a real story that isn't a blatant money grab. I can see what you're doing. You aren't as sneaky as you think you are.

Let's talk about True, the tepid, awkward cousin of the only good New Adult novel I've read, [b:Easy|16056408|Easy|Tammara Webber||19113823]. True isn't all that offensive, so I can't rage about the content that much. I can poke fun at it, which I will. But in a genre full of demented alpha douchebags and self-entitled whimpering damsels, True has at least a semblance of a moral fiber. It also isn't that poorly written. Most of the time, the grammar is passable.

This is the story of brainy Rory, who is "shy" and "awkward and "plain." This is also the story of Rory's Virginity, because her untouched vagina is apparently THAT important. After Rory tells her roommates, Jessica and Kylie, that she's still a virgin, they decide to take her purity into their own hands. They pay sexy and tattooed Tyler, who was literally JUST sleeping with Jessica, $100 to solve her virginity problem.

Because if there's one problem big enough to turn a guy into a cheap prostitute, it's a 20-year-old's virginity.

Hijinks ensue. Shenanigans are plentiful. And MY GOD, THESE PEOPLE ARE SO FUCKING DUMB.

True takes on 4 serious issues - rape, death of a parent, child abuse, and poverty - and pisses them all down its leg. It's almost comical. I can imagine the author sitting there, thinking, "I really want Rory and Tyler to have sex, but what can I add to the story to make it serious? I know! EVERYTHING!"

In the first scene, Rory is nearly raped by some bitch named Grant. His idea of sexual assault is to make her give him a blowjob, because that wouldn't be risky to your PENIS or anything. Well, before Rory can bite off Grant's manpendage, which I was totally ready for, a shirtless Tyler saves the day and punches Grant in the face for being a dirty rapist. AWESOME. Let's see how McCarthy handles the serious issues of rape ...

JUST KIDDING. She totally doesn't!

There's a scene halfway through the book in which Grant just shows up again and tells Rory that the only reason Tyler likes her is because he can save her and that they should have pretended to have sex to make Tyler jealous or something? I don't even fucking know. Grant, who GOT AWAY with trying to rape Rory, spends time alone with her while Tyler's out at the store, and it's just glazed over with a chatty "let's talk about how you almost raped me" session. And Rory is okay with it? And Tyler comes back and is all, "WTF?" And Rory is like, "It's cool. Whatever. The past is the past." And Grant's like, "Hee hee hee!" Strange, is what that chapter is. Strange, indeed.

So, Tyler's poor, and not adorable poor like Oliver Twist or anything. He has an abusive mom who is addicted to drugs, and she's always throwing beer cans at him and the boys and punching Tyler in the face. Tyler's entire Reason for Wangsting is that Rory's smart and not poor while he's scraping by to become an EMT and taking care of his brothers. I actually liked Tyler as a character. He's a noble guy with a tough life, and I can get behind a character like that. Obviously, he likes Rory from the beginning, and the $100 prostitution deal is later brushed aside when he admits that he only agreed to do it because he wanted to get to know her and didn't take the money anyway. Bummer.

Anyway, Rory comes floating into his family's life like a fucking Disney princess or whatever, feeding the boys vegetables and baking them pies and inviting them to her nice house for Thanksgiving dinner. The kids are all like, "I've never EATEN fresh vegetable before!" and whatnot, and it's obvious that Rory thinks she's THE BEST for introducing the poor kids to healthy food. The privilege and classism is strong in this one, friends.

Of course, Rory's dad doesn't approve of Tyler. So Tyler tries extra hard to impress him by getting arrested for drug possession. The drugs were his mom's. Tyler dumps Rory because he doesn't want to drag her down. She screams at the top of her lungs and throws a couple of pillows in her bedroom to VOICE HER RESISTANCE to her BIG MEANIE DADDY. There are some trite lessons about life going on. Then Tyler's mom dies, and they get back together at her burial. Oh, the things kids do these days!

A lot of the plot threads are left dangling and long forgotten. Rory finds out about her friends' "get Rory laid" scheme early in the story but never confronts them. Tyler goes to jail and drops out of school, ruining his EMT ambitions, but they never discuss it. WTF? Is the POWER OF LOVE supposed to sustain them through his shithole of a life? Grant: The World's Dumbest Rapist, is still prowling the streets, perfectly capable of victimizing another unsuspecting woman. The blunt, logical Rory that I grew to like in the first half of the story runs for the hills after declaring her love for Tyler, only to be replaced by a clingy little thing who's probably betting on a losing horse? (Sorry, Tyler.)

I don't expect the entire story to be wrapped up in a happily ever after bow, but leaving everything at the surface is LAZY. Sure, young people make ridiculous decisions sometimes. But wouldn't this book be more meaningful if - I don't know - they faced some repercussions for acting like dithering morons? Nothing is permanent. Nothing is explored. Nothing is fucking TRUE in this book. However, like every other New Adult book out there, it tries to convince me that it's worth taking seriously despite the fact that it's 90% ridiculous.

True is, at its base, drama for drama's sake. If there is some deeper meaning, besides immature love crossing class boundaries, I didn't catch it. To be honest, I spent a lot of time waiting for a detailed description of Tyler's penis ring. Alas, IT NEVER CAME.

Blah. Mediocrity at its disappointing finest, but god help me, I've read worse.