We all knew about Cullen Hickson.
Siblings Bri and Ray O’Dell are lost. Anxious. Restless. Ray—bullied at his Catholic school for being small and timid—wants to be someone people respect or, even better, someone people fear. Meanwhile, Bri knows that something is off about her friendship with the shiny, happy, sophisticated blond girls on her field hockey team. They don’t really understand Bri, and if Bri is being totally honest, she doesn’t really understand them either.
When storied delinquent Cullen Hickson enters the orbit of the O’Dell siblings, though, everything changes. Bri and Ray find an alluring, addictive outlet in Cullen, who opens their eyes to a world they didn’t know existed. For Ray, that means experiencing the singular thrill of crime—from breaking and entering to grand theft auto—while Bri quickly dives into an all-consuming romance with the enigmatic upperclassman.
As Bri and Ray become more and more entwined with Cullen’s antics, and their once-thrilling experiences grow increasingly dangerous, a series of life-changing events threatens to lead the teens down a dark path—one that could forever alter the course of their lives.
“Ours was a story that wouldn’t stand for the commonplace.”
This was Strong’s debut novel and it’s a story about how one guy, Cullen, changes the lives of two siblings, Bri and Ray, forever.
Ray gets bullied mercilessly at his school and finds a way to get out of it by ‘hiring’ Cullen in order to help him experience the true thrill of crime in every way. Then we have Bri, who is part of the ‘popular’ group of girls at her school but she knows she doesn’t belong, and at times, doesn’t even know how she got there. She find herself attracted to Cullen and we get to witness how that fact alone ultimately changes the course of her stature in school.
Cullen captivated me from the very beginning. I think I dove into this book as hard as I did because he was the first POV we read about and his mind was a hilarious place. There were a lot of times where he had me laughing uncontrollably at the stuff that went through his head and he did.
I felt like Cullen and Bri got intimate WAY too fast for my liking. I was just starting to see a flicker of flame when all of a sudden it became a forest fire… I didn’t really like it but I just shrugged it off or else I would’ve never enjoyed the romance factor in this.
This book was divided into two parts and the second part brought the seriousness to a whole new level. I was reeling from the way part one ended since I wasn’t expecting it all; I was dreading it, to be honest, and I shed a few tears.
One reason why this isn’t a complete 4 star read was because I was in the mindset that this would just be a book about a group of kids messing around but it’s so much more than that and it caught me by surprise. It deals with heavier and harder topics than I was expecting. That isn’t a bad thing at all, but at the moment, I wasn’t in the right mood for it, I guess. I’ll definitely try and reread this someday in the future and try to see if my rating changes.
The other reason was because I didn’t form a connection to any of the characters. I really, really tried, but even though it dealt with different forms of depression, they were completely different from mine so I couldn’t relate to them as much as I wanted.
This book is perfect for any adrenaline junkies out there.
It had a somber undertone throughout it and the foreshadowing got a bit heartbreaking. I really liked how I had no idea or guesses to where the characters would end up. It kept me guessing at every turn and it made me hesitant to reach the finish line. I had a strong uneasy feeling in my stomach from the start since these characters were playing with fire and I felt like they would only end up being burned beyond recognition.
I will say, that this might be triggering for some readers out there, so fair warning; It almost was for me. Can’t wait to see what Strong comes out with next!