Rarity by D.A. Roach

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(credit)

Kindle Price: $3.99

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

“Brogen Mathers can’t deal with teen drama…
As an empath, she is constantly bombarded with other people’s energies. Despite coping techniques taught by her psychologist mother, it’s often too much to bear, forcing her to avoid most activities a typical high school junior would enjoy.
Jay Wilken won’t let his past define him…
A dead mother and an alcoholic father brought Jay to Stanton, but he doesn’t want pity. His good looks, charisma, and friendly nature quickly win over the whole student body, but he has his eye on one girl…Brogen.
Brogen can’t believe anyone could be so genuinely nice. It has to be an act, right? But when Jay literally saves her from deadly jaws, she has to admit he’s exactly what he appears, and he’s worth risking the potential emotional upheaval.
“Drama” might as well be Becca Grant’s middle name…
Another newcomer to Stanton, Becca’s blonde beauty and abundant attitude shoots her straight to the top of the popularity charts—and she believes Jay belongs right there beside her. Accustomed to getting exactly what she wants, she launches a relentless mean-girl campaign to shake up Brogen and claim Jay for her own.

Everything changes with a devastating diagnosis…

When Jay learns he has a rare and potentially fatal disorder, he keeps it secret and begins to push Brogen away to spare her future pain—which is exactly the sort of opening Becca is waiting for.
As Jay’s well-meaning deception unravels,  Brogen realizes there is much more than her heart at stake…
But how far is she willing to go to fight for someone she loves?”
My Review:

First and foremost, I want to say that Roach really did her research. I don’t know anything about Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (vEDS) besides what was presented in the story, but I think it is more than safe to say that this wasn’t an “Hmm, what’s a pretty bad disorder I can use to spice this story up? vEDS? Sounds cool.” kind of situation. Based on the dedication and how the disorder was handled in the actual story, as well as the information included afterwards, I believe that Roach has had actual experience with vEDS. I wanted that to be acknowledged since many times, authors use serious illnesses as a way to make a plot “more interesting.” An author who doesn’t do that, should be noticed. That being said, let’s talk about Brogen.

I’m curious as to why Roach chose the name Brogen for the main female character. I conducted a tiny bit of investigating and apparently, ‘Brogan’ (not ‘Brogen’) appears to be the name of Saint Peter’s nephew and scribe. In addition, Wikipedia says that it also means “sorrowful, sharp-faced, sturdy and strong.” It’s a shame really because I found Brogen to be selfish and incredibly rude. She focused on herself when it came to everything. The guy I like isn’t interested in me? It’s Becca’s fault! She gets all the guys because she’s blonde! Argh! The guy I like is sick? I need to get upset when he distances himself from me because he’s dealing with a lot! (And note, I don’t mean distancing because he’s trying to spare her feelings, this was the distancing when he just needed space.) The vibe I was getting from her was that she was only concerned for herself and how the issues in everyone else’s life would eventually impact her. The empath part of her didn’t add anything to her personality or story. In the beginning, it was talked about and brought up frequently, but after she met Jay, it was ignored until it was needed, then it faded away again. I had honestly forgotten she was an empath until I was reading my notes.

I didn’t mind Jay, but I don’t honestly know much about him. Jay was realistic when it came to his frustration, fear, and stress over his condition. I think the one unrealistic, and most ridiculous, reaction that he had was when he learned about the damage a drunk driver caused. Instead of acting normal and being shocked or angrily saying something, he punches a locker. This is a Public Service Announcement to all authors in the young adult genre: People, men specifically, do not just go around punching walls and lockers to express their anger. That’s scary and not a normal reaction. Besides that, I have no real complaints about Jay except that he should have been developed more. It felt like he was that one main character in a movie that gets a few lines and everyone writes a review that it says: “I loved the movie, but I wish [character] had more lines. I really wanted to get to know him better, but it didn’t happen.”

Remember how I said I didn’t know much about Jay? This is an issue because the story was told in Brogen’s point of view and if I don’t know much about Jay, then Brogen doesn’t know much about Jay and therefore, they aren’t in love! They kiss about three times, hold hands maybe once or twice, and the rest is just people pushing them together. A teacher calls them a “lovey-dovey couple” at some point to give you an example. The relationship felt really forced and I was uncomfortable every time they kissed or when the word ‘love’ was used to describe a kiss between them.

I feel bad for Becca. Besides writing ‘SLUT’ in nail polish on Brogen’s locker, (which Brogen didn’t even care about), she didn’t really do anything that bad to Brogen. She shouldn’t have been used to continue the stereotype of blondes being the only type of girls who can become popular after a few days. She definitely didn’t deserve the judgement that was constantly dished out by Brogen. All that Becca really was, was a popular girl, who was framed as a mean and nasty person and set up to eventually lose because she was interested in the same guy as the main character.

Somewhere in the beginning of the book (around 3%), Meg, Brogen’s best friend, says to Brogen, “Well, Brogen, two more years of this place, then we’re free.” Brogen says something similar around 23% of the book. I interpreted it to mean that Brogen and Meg were in their tenth year of high-school. But then, 68% into the book, Brogen says that Jay is almost eighteen. Is Jay a seventeen-year-old tenth grader? Or a seventeen-year-old junior interested in Brogen, a sophomore? Are they all juniors? I couldn’t figure it out.

I have two major issues with Rarity. Issues that I was just astounded to find would be present. One was the intense hatred/anger/outright-judgement that Brogen and her mother had towards blonde women. I understand that Brogen’s dad got a divorce because he fell in love with another woman, who was blonde. I also understand that Brogen doesn’t like Becca, who is blonde. But what I don’t understand is why Brogen, and her Mom, insist on saying things that make blondes seem evil and stupid. There were comments from both Brogen and her Mom towards blondes that I was shocked to read. Phrases like, “Guess Jay cares a little more about what’s inside than some stupid, superficial Blondezilla.” How can Brogen just assume that Becca is stupid and superficial? Brogen knows nothing about Becca and has no right to assume such things. In the same exact way, that Becca doesn’t know the issues that Brogen struggles with, Brogen has no idea what Becca deals with.
At some point, Brogen’s mom is talking to her ex-husband and says, “You can play house with your Barbie doll girlfriends, but keep our daughter out of that mess.” Maybe Brogen’s mom is jealous or just angry at the choices her ex-husband made (which is justified), but don’t insult people you don’t know. It’s fuzzy as to if the woman Brogen’s father is with is the same woman he left Brogen’s mother for, but I still find this wrong. It’s the same concept that too many YA novels have: a gorgeous blonde girl, often described or insinuated to be a “bimbo” or “slut,” who is supposed be dumb/stupid and the leader of a group/clique of mean girls. This isn’t okay. The constant stereotype that blondes are dumb, super pretty, ‘slutty’ or ‘easy,’ and go out of their way to torture and bully other students is damaging and degrading. Do not do this to our blonde teen girls.

The second issue I had was the wrong stance that Roach seems to have taken when it comes to body image. During the story, Roach has Brogen think, “Why did attractive blondes always get the guys? Even if I dyed my hair blonde, I still wouldn’t land the guys. I didn’t have that goddess look–long and thick wavy hair, big bosom, curvy hips, and long legs.” Firstly, to say that Brogen, or really, as it is implied, any woman, can’t get a man because she doesn’t have the aspects listed by Brogen, is insulting. It builds on the wrong idea that what a man sees on the outside, is the only thing that matters. If that is the case, he is not the man for you and you need a different perspective.
After Jay saves Brogen’s life, Meg says to Brogen that it’s great that Jay saved her life because, “Boys look cute in scars, girls don’t.” Secondly, I am a young woman and I have scars on my body and I find this so hurtful and damaging. Scars don’t enhance a man’s beauty and completely disfigure a woman’s. That is an awful thing to try to project to impressionable young men and women. None of these things are lessons or phrases or ideas that we can simply throw around to teens who are coming to terms with their bodies. Loving and accepting your body is a serious concept and it is difficult for many teenagers. We have to be more aware of the things we say to teens because they can easily add more fuel to the insecurities they are battling.

Would I Recommend Rarity? I’m afraid not. There are just many things that I didn’t enjoy about the book that I didn’t even write about in this review. It isn’t something I would spend money on, but I’m still thankful I received the opportunity to read and review it.

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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6 thoughts on “Rarity by D.A. Roach

  1. Reg @ She Latitude says:

    The summary of this book made me so confused. I gather it’s a contemporary, but it sounds like a thriller/magical realism at the same time, what with the empath bit… hmm.

    But I am so, so glad that I read this review. Many of the things that you said would turn me off as well, and I have to say that I 100% agree with that violent bit. It is NOT good when people go around punching anything to express their anger – it’s not productive behaviour and it IS scary.

    Anyway, I can see what you meant. This book definitely hit a lot of your (and my) major pet peeves, and D:

    Liked by 1 person

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