An edgy fairy tale retelling of “Snow White” set in the world of Kill Me Softly for fans of Once Upon a Time and Grimm.
Faced with a possible loophole to her “Snow White” curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who’s fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrficing the love that might kill her?
Described as “edgy”, and what I would call misogynistic and slut-shamey to the max with an unlikable, self-centered MC, Sarah Cross’s Tear You Apart was a hot mess.
Let’s take a look at Vivian, our main character. She has it SO hard – as a princess under a Snow White Curse, she’s stuck with an evil step mother, her wonderful ex boyfriend, Henley, who’s been cursed as the huntsman to kill her, and a mysterious prince somewhere who is supposed to be able to save her and break the enchantment.
Viv describes herself as “paranoid, and possessive” over her ex. (And just btw, if he’s been cursed to kill you, shouldn’t you be AVOIDING him instead of deliberately trying to court your own death? Seriously?)
Viv closed her eyes and pictured the girl getting hit in the face by a basketball. Or maybe a brick.
Even though she and Henley have broken up, she pretty much keeps him on a leash to come running to help her whenever she needs him. She gets incredibly petty and jealous, meanwhile, when he seems to be moving on.
…when she noticed a red heart drawn on the back of his band in felt-tipped marker. A flirty, bubbly heart. She wanted to smack his hand off… “If you need a new girlfriend, do you have to pick a stupid one?”
But somehow it’s okay for her to string along both the prince and Henley.
“Henley –” She reached for him, but he eluded her grasp. “I don’t want you to go.” “No, you want to be the one who leaves. That’s how it works, right? You go whenever you’re ready. And to hell what I’m ready for.”
She’s also pretty shallow.
They’d gone to the dance because she wanted to the snobs at her prep school to see her hot boyfriend all dressed up. Walking in with him while everyone started – that was the best part.
In short, she’s an utterly selfish brat who treats Henley like crap.
Just end it, she told herself. Be good to him for once. But she didn’t.”
As she says, “I’m not like you. I don’t want you to be happy if it means you’re happy with someone else.”
And of course, being beautiful and skinny is just SUCH a nightmare. (Look, I know thin people have their problems to, but possessing society’s desired body shape means things are a helluva lot easier for you than it is for everybody else.)
Regina had a gorgeous body – the mirror never questioned that. The mirror judged beauty – and Viv was beautiful, supposedly – but Regina was sexy. Viv felt like a stunted little girl in comparison.
She’s also not the smartest – her plans to break someone’s curse by finding out their true name involves searching all their belongings – because of course they’re going to write that shit down, amirite? She also goes back to the stepmother who has repeatedly tried to kill her, and guess what? Regina tries to kill her again! DOH.
Finally, Viv is hella judgemental, in case you hadn’t gathered that by now.
So those were the Twelve Dancing Princesses…And she’d always thought they were lazy, trashy party girls.
Everything is tacky. Apart from her, of course.
Then we have the darling stepmother, who hits on an underage boy. As you do.
“You called Henley?” Regina asked. Viv gave a curt nod. “At least we’ll have a hot mechanic…You’re so sensitive. Why do you care if I think your boyfriend us hot?
“You don’t have to hang out with Viv if you don’t want to. You can be my guest.”
And she is mercilessly portrayed as some kind of whore compared to Viv.
She twirled her keys around her finger and went to open the trunk, making it look like a burlesque routine.
And Regina was laughing like she was auditioning for the role of sexy stepmom who steals her stepdaughter’s boyfriend.
But her legs were a mile long and her nightgown barely covered her ass, so Henley probably wasn’t looking at her face.
The prince, Jasper, is equally as problematic. He starts out as the equivalent of a Stepford-Husband:
“You’re my destiny. The person I’m meant to be happy with forever. I don’t need to know you to want to protect you.
“I can’t wait to show you, every day, how lucky I am to have you.”
“I’m going to take care of you like no one has ever cared for you.”
– who swiftly degenerates into the asshole that thinks it will be no issue for Viv to sleep with him, since she’s had sex with someone else before.
“I’m just saying, what is there to be afraid of? What are you waiting for? I could understand if you hadn’t before, and you were scared, but…”
“You had sex with him. Go ahead, admit it, I might as well know.”
He also slaps her – healthy relationship 101?
Jasper slapped her hard across the face. The pain spread in a stinging wave across her cheek, and she gaped at him, eyes watering – and then she laughed… He’d looked almost shocked after he hit her, but his face turned fierce when’s he mocked him. He felt the slap was justified now.
And of course, he’s really sorry after and it won’t happen again. SURE. THAT’S WHAT ALL THE WIFE-BEATERS SAY.
“I never should have hit you. I’m not trying to excuse what I did, but I was jealous. Hideously jealous from the moment I found out about your relationship with the Huntsman.
And bodily moves her around:
Jasper took her by the arm the way the guard had – as if her were escorting her, but squeezing hard enough that she knew he was serious – and dragged her out of the club. He didn’t even let her stop on the hillside to squint across the lake. He just hauled her toward the palace. “If you want to fight with me,” he said under his breath, “don’t do it in public.”
The two pretty much use each other – Viv for the safety of the underworld and to escape her problems, and Jasper to fulfill his curse/life ambition of obtaining a pretty little princess.
“You haven’t thanked me once. I saved your life. I’ve done so much for you. And you don’t even appreciate it. You just expect it.” “Of course I expect it,” she said coldly. “I’m the princess.”
While I usually love fairytale retellings, apart from being set in the modern world and containing more sexual innuendo, Tear You Apart didn’t offer anything unique – we still have a bunch of princesses from different tales waiting/needing to be saved, with princes who are either bachelor playboys or Gary-Stu earnest in their mission to get their lady. And this particular retelling contained far too many problematic elements for me to enjoy it.
ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may change prior to publication.