Published by Indie, Self Published on October 21st 2016
Genres: New Adult
“We were perfect together. Until we met.”
I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.
In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.
It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…
And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.
Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.
We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?
Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?
F*ck it. I need to meet her.
I just don’t expect to hate what I find.
He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.
Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.
He could be gone forever.
Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.
God, how I loved this book!! It was everything I needed and have come to expect from Penelope Douglas. I’ve said it before, she’s got to be one of the best voices out there in the romance genre right now. Whenever I read a Penelope book, I know I’m going to get excellent story telling, beautiful prose, scorching hot sex scenes, angst and amazing character development. She doesn’t skimp on anything when it comes to romance and I absolutely eat it up!
I was a massive fan of Corrupt, the book she released last year about Rika Fane and Michael Crist, Book 1 in the Devil’s Night series. That book was incendiary and one of my top reads of 2016. Now this book has been added to that list. It’s not a sequel, but it occurs in the same universe as Corrupt and the hero, Misha, hails from the same town where Corrupt takes place – Thunder Bay.
This means Punk 57 has a lot in common with Corrupt in terms of the angsty, sometimes creepy atmosphere, with a hero and a heroine that aren’t what they seem.
The book started with a bang, right away I could see myself escaping into her world, a place I’d missed for so many months. And there is something incomparable about Penelope’s writing style. It’s just descriptive enough to make you feel like you’re inside the story, living, breathing, smelling, tasting… hell, FEELING, everything around you. She also creates the most intriguing heroes. I adored Misha from the get go. There was something so appealing about his bad boy streak, and his rock star in the making personna. He felt genuine and I felt warm, and liquidy inside. The whole singer/song writer/poet thing really hit the spot.
You belong to me more than you ever did to them.
The story did flag a little bit around the 20 to 50% mark though, and it was a little bit difficult for me to understand the motivations for some of the stuff going on. The basic premise is Misha and Ryen being pen pals since the 5th grade (they’re now eighteen and seniors in high school) and how they meet through the most incredible and heartbreaking circumstances. They’ve never raided each other’s social media, and never seen their pictures. It was a little difficult for me to suspend disbelief given their age and the ease with which people can find out information nowdays but the more the story developed the more a lot of things seemed to fall into place. Misha finds out that Ryen may not be what he thought she was. He’s faced with the decision of letting her know who he is and risking the status quo or aiming for more.
We were perfect for each other. Until we met.
Misha and Ryen’s epistolary romance and their situation once they meet each other is at the forefront. There is a subplot involving Misha’s family that is tremendously effective. Once again I was able to spot the plot twist a mile away but it was a beautifully done and well executed twist and I don’t think it will be easily predictable for a lot of people.
The sex scenes… oh my God… I don’t think I can do them justice. The drive-in and the library and then another encounter involving a specific sex toy left me wide-eyed and panting. I hadn’t been that turned on since Corrupt and that is a tall order.
And just as it was easy to be aroused, I was nearly brought to tears by a scene involving Ryen and one of the less popular student’s at school late in the third act. I was touched by the message in this book and highly identify with it. The powerlessness of growing up in turmoil, of feeling like a misfit, ostracized, afraid and alone. And how self-preservation can lead us to become something we don’t want and later hate. It was all so powerful.
I can tell by the author’s note that she was afraid most people would hate Ryen. I didn’t. In fact at first I didn’t quite comprehend what was supposed to be so vile about her and I think she could have made her a little more villainous and still I would have sympathized with her and her ordeal. Her redemption was effective. In fact making her a bit more evil in the first act would have taken care of my criticisms regarding Misha’s supposed dislike (which didn’t seem to make a lot of sense for quite a while and had me scratching my head). The push and pull within him would have been easier to understand. Thankfully, everything seemed to start making a ton more sense around the halfway mark.
But even with a few missteps, I just LOVED this book and I’m glad I stuck through the slower parts because I would have missed out on an unforgettable love story.
Eventually we all have to weigh what we want more: wanting back what we had or wanting what could be. To stay or to risk everything to move forward.
I adored the epilogue. Fans of Corrupt will know why. I had to refrain myself from squealing and jumping up and down. It only made me thirstier for Kai’s book. I can’t wait!!
Five well deserved stars for this one. I will read anything this woman puts out.
One final word: Both protagonists are still in high school but being that they’re eighteen and given the graphic sexual content, I’d land this book solely in New Adult territory.