- File Size: 884 KB
- Print Length: 222 pages
- Publisher: InterMix (April 21, 2015)
- Publication Date: April 21, 2015
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00OZ0TO0S
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,337 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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Aflame: A Fall Away Novel Kindle Edition
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I have so many things to say about this book and this series that I am completely and totally at a loss for what to actually write. How can I put into words what this book means to me...how deeply these characters are imbedded in my heart...how hard it is to say goodbye to a series that has been a part of my life for almost two years? The feels are overwhelming! Needless to say, Aflame blew any and all expectations I had for an epic way to end the Fall Away Series out of the universe. If the series had to end at all, I cannot think of a way that Penelope could have done these characters any better justice. So…as I said, Aflame is the fourth (and final) book in the Fall Away Series…if you haven’t read Bully & Until You , I would definitely recommend it (cause this book will not make any sense…) and if you don’t want any spoilers, I would read Rival and Falling Away too. To really appreciate the build of the story in the series overall…it’s better to read in order.
Tatum Brandt…my love for Tate runs deep…this girl just speaks to a part of me and I simply adore her. From the moment I met Tate, I knew she was one of the strongest heroines I have ever read…but she has proved consistently how strong she truly is…emotionally and physically. I mean, it definitely takes a strong girl to put up with a guy like Jared, but the strongest thing about Tate is her heart. She is so loving…so giving…so kind…she’s just a naturally good, sweet girl…and four years after Until You, that hasn’t changed. She’s driven and dedicated…I love that she’s focused on fulfilling her dream of becoming a doctor and considering she got into Stanford medical school, she’s still insanely smart. I love that she’s still a tom boy to her core…wearing chucks and kicking @#$ on the race track…spending any free time she has under the hood of her car and playing her fav rock bands as loud as she can. Add that to another one of the things I love about Tate…she’s such a contradiction…on the outside she looks like a Barbie doll but she couldn’t be farther from a girlie girl…well, unless you look at Fallon. Tate really has grown a lot in the past few years…she’s still the same girl that captivated me in Bully…but she has changed a little bit…not in a bad way by any means, but something felt different about her, and that had a lot to do with the actions of the boy who stole her heart when she was 10 years old.
‘At ten years old, Jared was my friend. At fourteen, my enemy; at eighteen, my love; and at twenty, my heartbreak. I’d known him more than half my life, and although the roles had changed, his impact was always all consuming.
Jared Trent…*le sigh*…where do I begin with this boy. I can’t not love him…it’s physically incapable for me to. Part of me wanted to, after reading the excerpt in the back of Falling Away…or at least get really mad at him…but I couldn’t even do that. It’s like once I truly understood him in Bully, a switch was flicked and my brain will not allow me to do anything but love and adore him unconditionally…and so I do. In all of his tatt’d up, bad boy glory…I so completely do. Because the thing is…you don’t love Jared Trent because he’s romantic in the typical book boyfriend kind of way (cause he’s not)…you love him for his filthy mouth…his ability to command respect in any room that he walks into…the fact that he can drive anything with a motor (sorry, there is just something infinitely sexy about that!)…and you love him for his dedication to those he cares about…because when Jared Trent loves, he loves for life. I could go on for days about all the things I love about Jared...all the ways he is absolutely unfathomably amazing...he's totally one of a kind...but I will say that if I thought I loved him before...his actions in Aflame sent my feelings to another universe. I knew to expect greatness from Jared and I got so much more than I bargained for.
‘Tate was different.
I shook my head and turned my gaze back to the track, seeing her hop out of her car and talk with the other drivers. So confident. So strong.
But the way I wanted her was still the same.
Jax was right. I could go around about it for days or weeks or another two years, but I’d still come to the same conclusion as he did this afternoon. I loved Tate, and I would always love her.’
The fact that Jared and Tate aren’t together in Aflame was never kept a secret…I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that I wasn’t upset at first…but it was definitely short lived. I never doubted Penelope’s creative genius when it came to what she would do with the story line for Aflame…that’s not to say that the moment I read the excerpt in the back of Falling Away that I wasn’t filled with a myriad of emotions…but one of those emotions was excitement. I know that might make me sound a little crazy but…it’s true. I have to think back on Bully…she took this practically impossible situation and worked some voo-doo magic on me, made me fall head over heals in love with this complete @#$ who was so horrible to Tate…and yet turned him around into this amazing creature who I couldn’t love more if I tried…I fell so hard for Jared and Tate the first time…and going through all of that was one of the best reading experiences I can remember. So…getting to experience that again, on another level – umm, yes please! Considering I’m more invested with Jared and Tate now then I was two years ago…they’ve grown up considerably…there are just a lot of factors going on and every single one of them adds up to this amazing cocktail of reading bliss. I cannot imagine the plot being any more brilliant than it was…and this is coming from someone who would have rather poked her eyes out then have Jared and Tate be separated from one another but the way it all worked was genius.
“I’m never letting you go again, Tate,” I whispered, almost desperate. “I’m your friend forever, and if that’s all I get, then that’s what I’m taking, because only when you’re here” – I took her hand and placed it on my heart – “do I feel like my life is worth a d@#%.”
Penelope Douglas is one of my favorite writers ever…for so many reasons. First of all…as if I haven’t said it enough, her characters are perfection…and it’s not only who they are individually, but how they interact as a group. Each of them have their strengths and they play off each other so effortlessly…the combination of all of their personalities is priceless…it’s impossible to force. The emotions that are entwined in this book are as crucial as the characters are…no matter whose POV she writes in, I feel every ounce of what they’re experiencing…I always look forward to having that connection with those characters because it’s everything I crave when I read and she never leaves me wanting more. Her combination of angst and tension…sexy and swoon…comedy and fun…friendship and family…it’s equal parts of everything that blends flawlessly into this brilliant story. It’s funny because I couldn’t ask for more from any of her books…but I always want more because I love them so much, I never want it to stop – it’s a very satisfying and conflicting feeling.
‘“It’s easier to be angry and pass judgment than it is to take a chance. It feels stronger.”
I felt his chest inflate with a breath. “Yeah, I know that feeling.”
I laid the side of my face on his back, hugging him close. “Nothing feels right without you. Not school or home,” I cried. “Everything is just giving me enough air to get to the next day without you. I never stopped being yours.”
He dropped his head back, letting out a sigh.
I swallowed, taking my chance. “I love you, Jared. I’ve always loved you, and I will always love you.”
There was no one but him, and even when he wasn’t around, he was. I would never be free of him – because I didn’t want to be.’
Of course the main focus of Aflame is Jared and Tate…we started with them, we end with them – but just like with all of the other books in the series, Madoc and Fallon and Jax and Juliet have their key parts of play and we get continuations of their stories as well. Madoc is one of the funniest characters I’ve read and he totally kept me laughing in Aflame…his timing was perfect, his liners were fantastic…he’s just this perfect little preppy boy class clown that I love to death. Jax…is like a ninja – he flies totally under the radar until he wants to make his presence known and then usually it’s something completely unexpected and totally freaking awesome. Fallon and Juliet…they’re the perfect besties for Tate…these three girls have this rare balance of just the right amount of things in common to keep them close but they’ve got their own uniqueness. And I don’t think there is every going to be a word to describe the feelings I have with seeing these three couples together…it fills a part of my heart that nothing else can touch, it makes me want to cry and yet I’m smiling so hard my face hurts.
‘I ignored truth and reason, because it was easier to believe that my power defined me rather than admitting I needed anyone. Rather than admitting the reality.
That I loved Tate.
That she loved me.
And that together we were invincible.
It has taken me years to learn, but I’d spend the rest of my life making up for it.’
I am not afraid to admit it…I hate goodbyes. Not that I think anyone particularly loves them but still…and I especially hate them with books. I’m a self-professed stage 5 clinger…and I think it’s even stronger with these characters because they’re some of my favorites. But as I said in the beginning, this was the best way for the Fall Away series to end…I truly cannot be happier after reading that epilogue. I love a good epilogue and holy f^@%!#$ hell…this is one for the record books. Per-freakin'-fection! There is no other word to describe it. At the end of Aflame, Penelope wrote a note to the reader…and she said ‘Jared, Tate, Madoc, Fallon, Jaxon, and Juliet represent a piece of who I am. I put so much of my heart into creating them, and they are not imaginary to me. It’s a difficult good-bye, but then I guess most good-byes are.’ Well…bravo Penelope, because from a readers perspective, you’ve made it equally as difficult to say goodbye. These characters have been in my head and heart for almost two years…I have loved every single second of every page that I have read and having to accept the fact that the series is over is hard…there’s no way around it. Alas…all good things come to an end…but my head is happy and my heart is overflowing with love…and all because Aflame was an absolutely flawless ending to this series.
"'Tatum Brandt is my f***ing food,' he growled. 'They all knew it in high school, and not a damn thing has changed."
At the end of Falling Away, we saw Jared and Tate break up. Many of us were upset by the entire scene. Jared behaved selfishly, not because he left like he needed to, but because of the way he left. I thought, maybe, when I read the scene from his point of view in Aflame it would change my opinion and I'd spend the book rooting for him immediately, to my surprise, it didn't. Even from his point of view it seems selfish and, as he's leaving, he realizes he didn't go about it the right way, but he still walks out the door without trying to fix anything. And he somehow walks out the door with the expectation that Tate will be there for him whenever he decided to come back. The problem is, he says in internal dialogue that he'll be back at least 5 times, out loud he tells her that he doesn't know what will happen when he finds what he's looking for, not once does he say to her that he'll be back (I reread this scene several times because later in the book he says he told her he'd be back and I was all...uh, no, you didn't). Like his mother says later in Aflame, Jared is rarely aware of anyone's feelings but his own. That's what starts this firestorm, so what comes after, in my opinion, he set in motion.
Jared does not return on his own, his return is not precipitated by Tate or a need/want for her. Tate meanwhile, has decided to try and move on for the second time, after a disastrous attempt at moving on several months after Jared left she decided to focus on other things, not that it's really working. She's become someone else, the warm, funny, loving girl with a spitfire attitude Jared used to know has been replaced by a new Tate. She doesn't feel much anymore. She's shut down but she has successfully graduated college and gotten into med school and that's basically what she lives for these days...oh, and racing. They run into each other hours after Jared's arrival home and the sparks start flying.
"'The players might be the same, Jared,' I said untying my scrub pants and letting them fall down my legs, 'but the game has changed,' I warned"
"this Tate was on a different level. She was condescending and almost cold. I didn't know this game."
I don't want to get too much into the story, I don't want to spoil anyone. But there are scenes in this story that are amazing and there are things that took me a bit to get over and understand. I can't even really talk about what I had a hard time with without spoiling things. But I loved this story in many ways but there were also a few things that made me angry. It wasn't easy, but it also wasn't overly angsty. There were several times I wanted to punch Jared in the head and at least once that I wanted to slap Tate. Jared kind of reverted for about half the book into his old bully self and Tate was so, so scared on the inside, understandably,but she let it make her do stupid things.
Jared didn't seem to be aware of how his actions affected her at all for a long time. Even after he got a come to Jesus from Madoc (loved him in this book even more!) and Jax (also made me love him more) about how things were when he left, how heartbreaking it was for Tate and how it affected everyone else also, he sincerely was shocked that everyone had changed when he'd been gone for two years.
"I was floored by how different he seemed. Madoc never shut up. He could vomit story after story and argue any point at the drop of a hat, but now... I shook my head. He was actually speechless. Or there were things he clearly wasn't sure how to say."
"'But then she stayed distant-she kept pulling away-and it was like slowly the family was breaking. All of us. She wasn't Tate without you, and without you both, the rest of us had to struggle to keep things together. To feel normal.'"
Reading the flashbacks were painful, both of them made some bad decisions while apart. And we saw Tate broken, more broken than before. But Jared did do what he set out to do. It was hard reading about his confusion about Tate, he was wishy washy and his actions in that part of his life reflected that and this was one of the things I had a problem with. But he became a better man in many ways. He found his calling and it made him stronger, he found that he could stand on his own but he wasn't 100% happy, he had a Tate sized hole. He soon realizes that he loves her still and doesn't want to live without her but he will not get her back easily and his actions left scars.
"'Tate,' he whispered in my ear, desperate. 'Would it have been better if I had never left? Would you still love me if I kept living a lie?' ...
I never wanted him miserable. Why was he trying to break my heart all over again? I'd just wanted him to stay. I didn't understand why he needed to leave me to feel whole. ...
'I know you loved me. I never wanted you unhappy." I spoke through my shaky breath. 'But I don't trust you. You always desert me.'"
"I knew I always forgot the pain he caused too easily. Not anymore."
One of my favorite scenes is actually between Jax and Tate, you'll know it when you see it. Jax has grown so much since Falling Away (Thank God, because even at the end of FA, I sill wasn't 100% sure of him. He did some horrible things to Juliet.) and even though he wasn't there for Tate in the same way Madoc was, he still was there. He encourage her racing and at a pivotal moment he has a very important conversation with her. Plus, we get to see how much he loves Juliet in this book. It's beautiful.
Madoc, he is unwavering in his support of Tate. Once Jared seems to get his head on straight, he stands back from the confrontations and just observes but he's there when Tate needs him. We seem him in a flashback supporting her when she's breaking down. Madoc was the one who got Tate through more than any one else. He's funny as ever and he and Fallon are still wonderful together.
Jared, he made me fall in love with him all over again, even after he made me hate him a little more for the first part of the book. He still messed up, he still went about things the wrong way often, but he always loved Tate. I do hate that he kept manipulating her instead of doing the work and I hate that he gave up on her at first, even though she didn't even know it since she didn't think he was coming back anyway. In the end, he does manage to redeem himself and learns to treat her better.
"I had spent my life living and feeding off pain. The neglect brought on by my mother's alcoholism, the blood spilled by my father, and the loss and loneliness I caused myself by denying what was as simple and necessary to me as breathing. I ignored truth and reason, because it was easier to believe that my power defined me rather than admitting I needed anyone. Rather than admitting the reality. That together we were invincible. It had taken me years to learn, but I'd spend the rest of my life making up for it."
"'Everything else may change, but never the way I love you,' I whispered, more to myself than to her."
And Tate, she learned that the best things are the things you fight for and that she's okay standing on her own but she's happier with Jared.
"Like warmth and peace and no matter what changed in my life, the people I met, the things I lost, or where I lived, if I was in his orbit, then I was home."
In the end this was a great story, Tate and Jared still needed to grow some and each had lessons to learn, Jared more so than Tate. And there are a couple chapters set further down the line that are fabulous and an amazing epilogue. I had so many quotes highlighted that I can't possibly share them all. I wish I could though because there were several I absolutely loved that I couldn't fit into this review.
Overall, you should read this series, this book is not a stand alone and you will appreciate all the characters better if you read the four books that come before it. I recommend these books. Hang on and enjoy the ride. ;)
Most recent customer reviews
I was pissed with how the last book left Tate and Jared but it's definitely one of those "It's not about the beginning or the end, it's how you live the...Read more
When I read Falling Away I knew with...Read more