the first time i read about fighting to be free i wasn't sure if the demons were real or metaphorical. honestly i think jamie cole would be better off dealing with real demons, because his metaphorical ones are pretty killer. but even though he's dealing with some dark stuff and his past is riddled with emotional landmines he is the dreamiest bad boy boyfriend ever.
and how he lands ellie and keeps her for the most part is pretty sweet. i mean, she's also super understanding. she only mildly freaks out when she discovers some of his illegal dealings, and even when she majorly freaks out about his delinquent past it's not unwarranted.
jamie and ellie are so cool and collected for being only 18 and 17 years old. and that is my major problem with this book. it's billed as new adult. and while there is a range for what you can consider new adult, usually college age is the lower boundary. this reads as new adult except one of the main characters is 18 going on 25 and the other one is a high schooler who acts like a 21 year old. it was just so hard to suspend disbelief that the characters would be doing the things they were doing at the ages being claimed. and yeah, okay, maybe kids these days, but you know what, katie mcgarry writes similarly gritty young adult fare. and her characters manage to act their age most of the time. the problem with this novel is that the characters are acting so much older. but it doesn't feel realistic.
because in every way this book reads like a new adult romance. even with the annoying cliffhanger at the end. i know, i know, i'm just not a fan of the cliffhanger ending. i don't mind reading a series but i much prefer each book to standalone. and i'm also not sure how you come back from this cliffhanger. like the author has really painted herself into a corner. jamie is in some real trouble. not just legal troubles, but all the lies he told to keep ellie safe, all the lies of omission to her family, i'm just not sure there's a way to move beyond this believably. even if jamie and ellie are totally meant to be.
i mean, you get that these two love each other. you understand why they can't keep apart. it's just the external forces keeping them apart aren't something to sneeze at. i enjoyed this book. both jamie and ellie are really engaging characters and there's this sense of menace and dread where you know that everything is going to go to shit and when it does it happens spectacularly. the author doesn't hold back. other than the cliffhanger my biggest issue is the character's ages. i just didn't buy them as teenagers. but just pretend in your head that we're talking about college age kids and the whole thing reads a little more realistically.
**fighting to be free will publish on september 6, 2016. i received an advance review copy courtesy of netgalley/forever/grand central publishing in exchange for my honest review.