I’m very picky when it comes to romance. The very basic requirement of any romance book is that you have to convince your reader that these two people are not only into each other, but good together. Unteachable fails in that.
Maise’s strength as a character and narrator was really the only good point in this novel for me, and the reason I gave it an extra star. Her narration can be melodramatic a lot of the time, but show me an eighteen year old who isn’t melodramatic. She’s snarky, messed up, and uses men without guilt. Sometimes she was hard to like, and that’s great — I love complicated female leads.
The other characters? Not nearly as strong. Not even Evan, who should be as memorable as Maise. The only reason I remember him is with disgust, frankly, because this is not the first time he’s dated a high school girl. If I were Maise, that would have been the moment I went nope and ran the other direction.
Everything else in the novel fell flat for me. The novel tries very hard to convince me of the all consuming love between Maise and Evan. There’s a lot of talk about how different they feel with each other, how they find all this worth in the other, but that’s all it is: talk.
I can’t think of a single interaction between them that really showed me that they were good with each other. Literally all of their interactions ended up in them having sex, and anything that might have advanced the character or relationship development between them was quickly put aside for more sex.
I’m not a prude, but I appreciate some development of a relationship to go along with my endless sex.
At the end of the novel, I was actually hoping that they wouldn’t stay together. Kind of defeats the purpose. As for the whole teacher/student thing, I don’t know that it honestly should have been a part of the novel. The characters didn’t treat it with the severity it deserved, until other people started finding out and blackmailing them with it.
Other highlights include Maise’s mother being a drunk, drugged out hooker who let a man touch Maise when she was twelve, and generally isn’t there for Maise at all. Because of course, all sluts are bad mothers, didn’t you know?
Will I look into Raeder’s next book? Maybe. The strength of Maise as a character does tell me she has a lot of talent as a writer. But as someone who loves a good “two broken monsters find each other and love each other” story, this one fell flat.