I received a signed copy of C. Rochelle and Cassandra Featherstone‘s Come Out & Prey in a mystery box I ordered from The Story of My Life Bookstore. Then, Because it’s a prequel (and I, therefore, knew that it wouldn’t be a whole story and I’m avoiding such scenarios), I preemptively ordered Let Us Prey to read with it.
In this world, you’re either predator or prey.
I come from a long line of pure-blood predators, but when my shift finally happened, I turned out to be prey.
A bunny to be exact. A freakin’ bunny.
The guy I’d been promised to since birth rejected me. My own father has turned his back on me – shipping me off to Apex Academy even though it’s practically a death sentence with what I am.
Oh, and of course, my ex-fiance and his friends are here at the academy and more than happy to make my life a living h***.
But then I met my teachers. Five incredibly gorgeous apex predators, each one more mysterious than the last. And all of them, very much off-limits.
There is something dark at Apex Academy – something that’s killing off students and teachers alike. As prey, I’m afraid I’m the easiest target, but who can I trust to keep me safe?
Come Out & Prey:
I really wanted to like this. I did. I went into it with such high hopes. But it doesn’t live up to its potential in several ways. For one, it’s a prequel that isn’t enjoyable. Sure, it gives everyone’s tragic backstory—Delores’ especially—but what fun is reading 230 pages of people being miserable in entirely predictable and unimaginative ways?
Second, Delores is so very ‘not like other girls’; it honestly made me cringe…repeatedly. The book is at least self-aware on this front. But that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to read.
Third, and relatedly, Delores is the only female character in the book who isn’t over-the-top evil in utterly cliched and slut-shamey ways. Why do female authors keep doing this, villainizing all other women?
Fourth, the naming convention of putting pred and prey in EVERYTHING was distracting and frankly embarrassing after a while. It was shtick that went on WAY too long.
Fifth, there is no progress on the relationship fronts at all; considering I picked up this series expecting erotic fantasy romance, that was a disappointment.
Sixth, the book needs editing…or maybe there are just some really odd formatting choices. The random ‘okay’ at the end of several paragraphs was especially confusing.
Let Us Prey:
I don’t use star ratings on the blog. But if I did, this would honestly barely make it out of the two-star range and only then because it’s competently written. As with the prequel, I wanted to like this. I expected to. I recently read Rochelle’s The Yaga’s Riders and liked it a lot. I had no reason to think this wouldn’t be equally as enjoyable. I’m down with the premise. But it was utterly disappointing.
The quirky naming convention nearly drove me to distraction, I hated it so much. If used sparingly, it might have been amusing. But it’s constant and felt like a schtick that went on far too long.
The plot meanders endlessly. The book is relatively long, and several times I wondered if there was still a plot or if we were just off doing whatever random thing popped up with nothing tying it together. I’m still not wholly sure.
There is very little spice in the book. And I don’t mean that as in, ‘the book didn’t have as much sex as I’d like.’ Instead, with the list of triggers in the beginning, blurb, cover, and five mates, there isn’t as much spice as the book sets the reader up to expect. It makes promises it doesn’t keep.
I have never read a co-authored book where the individual chapters are labeled who wrote them. I was confused in the beginning. I couldn’t figure out why the random ‘Cassandra’ was in the chapter heading. Once I figured out what was going on, I found it distracting, even as I tried to look over it.
The gay BFFs were cliched. The Heathers (yeah, they’re modeled on those Heathers) were too. And I cannot tell you how saddened I am every time I read one more book, especially a female-authored book, in which all other women except the main character and her small circle are horrible in some manner. And to have them horrible in very Kardashian ways has been done a million times and is probably steeped in more than a whiff of internalized misogyny.
The mother (who is the primary face of villainy) was beyond cartoonish. The men were buffoons, and only one of them was meant to be. If I had to read how perfect Deloris was one more time, I might have instituted a vom prom of my own. The dialogue got stiffer and stiffer as the book progressed. And, while Deloris (note the name) is technically over 18, the book plays with pedophilia in some subtle ways.
The occasional joke did land. We don’t talk about Bruno, after all. And I liked the heroes on the surface. I think that’s what makes this so disappointing. I can see how it could have been everything I was hoping for. But it went for slapstick ingénue over just about everything else, and I was eventually simply glad to come to the end of it (even with the cliffhanger).