ARC Review – Dirty South Drug Wars by Jae Hood

Book Review - Dirty South Drug Wars

Dirty South Drug Wars Cover

Dirty South Drug Wars

Author: Jae Hood

Publication: March 28th, 2016

Publisher: Jae Hood

Format: e-ARC, 406 pages

Genre. New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health, Thriller

Read: April 2016

Jae HoodGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

3 Stars

Synopsis
Tucked in the pine-covered hills of the rural South lie two small towns and two feuding families divided by a dirty river and a mutual desire: to reign supreme in the land of drug lords. Eighteen-year-old Rue Monroe has no interest in her family’s drug business. Thanks to the heartbreaking loss of her father and the abrupt abandonment of her mother, Rue’s left alone to care for her flighty little sister and make sure the bills get paid on time. Life can’t get any more complicated.
That is, until Rue is reunited with Tanner Montgomery, the son of her family’s sworn enemy.
Threatened by her own kin, Rue tries to fight her attraction for the boy she first met at the age of twelve, but Tanner doesn’t give in so easily. Tanner’s tireless persistence forces Rue to question everything she thought she knew about the Montgomery family. The two work together, unearthing old family secrets—secrets which might get them both killed.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
One thing that I can honestly say about this book is that it’s very dramatic. There’s a lot of stuff going on that kind of blows your mind as you read. It’s really emotional, violent, angsty and suspenseful. Unfortunately, it felt a little drawn out in places, scenes that I felt weren’t beneficial, but there’s so much potential in this story. There’s a lot of death involved and some insta love which is frustrating to me but overall I enjoyed the story.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style kind of feels confused sometimes. At times it was very simple, straight forward and to the point. And other times it was more lyrical and poetic. Both were good but it felt a little strange while reading. It was really fast paced to keep up with all the things going on while still keeping it detailed and descriptive.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I am a fan of character driven novels and while this is one of those, I didn’t really connect with them as much as I wanted to. Rue, the main character, is quite hard to explain. She’s very responsible and kind of uptight at the beginning. She’s had a very tough childhood and has had to take the brunt of the responsibilities of a house and family on her own. But there was something about her that just didn’t click with me. I feel like her development is more for the worse than for the better. I liked her determination but she got really angry and jaded about things. They were completely understandable but it’s not the kind of development I want to see in a standalone novel. Tanner, the love interest is almost the total opposite of her. He’s reckless and is more comfortable with the criminal side of their background than Rue is. He’s really protective of her, to the point where he kind of dominates her in a way and things usually end up happening the way he wants them too. That turned me off a lot to the romance but at the same time, he was honest with her and was very determined to help complete her goals so while it wasn’t the healthiest of  the relationships considering what I said above and the insta love, it did have it’s positive points. The side characters, and there’s a lot of them, were all very complex and multi layered and all had some kind of aspect to play in the plot. However, I would’ve liked to have seen deeper into them at a slower pace. You get them thrown in your face so fast because they’re just that many so it takes a moment to catch your bearings and kind of remember who is who and what their purpose is.

Emotionally

I feel like this book could’ve been a lot better and I would’ve enjoyed it more if it had been edited a different way.

The plot is dramatic. We follow Rue who, after the death of her father at age twelve, has to take a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. At age eighteen, she falls in love with a guy from the wrong side of the river and finds herself caught in the middle of a drug war. This is a puled to published fanfiction that I read when it was first published and I really enjoyed it. But it happens a lot that in the shift between fanfiction to novel, the things that work for one don’t really work in the other and it’s not really caught before publication. In general, the plot is exciting, action packed and full of suspense. You’re in an amazing setting, small Mississippi towns and with an intense premise, warring drug trafficking families. It’s a story with a lot of different layers that pulls you in instantly. But there were a lot of scenes that felt unnecessary and slowed down the momentum of the original plot. I feel like it’s something that could’ve been fixed in the editing process and I could’ve done without them. But at the same time, there was too much story for just one book. I feel like I can’t stress enough how much potential this plot has. I have a lot of thoughts on how this could be improved. First, make it a dark and gritty Romeo & Juliet retelling. It already has the makings of it with the feuding families and forbidden love and there’s even a reference to it. So there just needs to be a push to make it official and to correlate more of the original plot of the play into the plot of the story. Second, raise the ages of the characters a little bit. Some of the things that happen and that they do feel way too mature and heavy for 18 year olds. I’d go straight into the New Adult genre and make them at least in their twenties. And lastly, divide the whole book in two. There is so much space for brilliance in this story and one book isn’t enough for it. Use the first book to help develop the romance and introduce the conflict. And use the second to develop the conflict and make all that awesome crazy shit happened. It would’ve been so amazing that way!

Rue is a little strange. I don’t really know if I like her or not still. There were parts of her personality that I really enjoyed and then others that felt weird and not really meshing with the rest of her. I appreciated her motivation and her reasons behind her actions. She has, surprisingly, a high moral compass and she did her best to make sure the people around her were taken care of and that her actions were for the benefit of not only her and her relationship but her family. Yet at the same time, she had moments when it felt like that wasn’t her goal anymore. There was a very iffy part that was quite confusing in this setting and it was very strange to see her transform and be a little deluded to reality when most of the time she has a great head on her shoulders. I feel like she’s a good flawed protagonist but again I felt like I could’ve gotten to know her better if not for the length of the book.

God the side characters. I wish I could go into detail about all of them because they are all unique and complex and give their own flavor to the story. But this review is already super long so I’m just going to say that while in the beginning the sheer amount of people is overwhelming, I really enjoyed their presence and I would’ve liked to have gone deeper into their individual characterization. Tanner is not the best love interest in my opinion but I appreciate how protective he is over Rue and how deep their love seems to be. I would’ve like to see that develop more slowly but if it would’ve been a direct Romeo and Juliet retelling, it would’ve been perfect.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but I feel like this story has a lot more to give. I’m looking forward to see what more the author has up her sleeve.

So that’s it for this review! Let me know what you think and if you’re going to check out this book. You definitely should. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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