Why do I even bother reading sequels? I feel like every time I do, I'm only setting myself up for disappointment. Last month was especially bad for me with regard to reading sequels to books where I actually really enjoyed the first installment, but it looks like December might be heading for that same grim trajectory. THE MISTAKE really is aptly name - it feels like a mistake. It's a book that nobody asked for or needed, starring two hateful protagonists that want to find something approximating love, but is too selfish to be love, because they're both selfish people.
And before you brand me as a hater, I loved THE DEAL. THE DEAL was one of the books that got me into new adult romance, as someone who previously couldn't stand the genre. It was so refreshing, and did a 180 on all the most hated tropes. Hannah had hobbies and interests of her own beyond the love interest, and one of the sub-plots of the book is her learning to stand up for herself and chase down her dreams. Garrett was the perfect example of a dominant guy who can still respect boundaries and be a gentleman. Both he and Hannah had painful backstories, and a huge part of the story was the two of them learning to fight their demons. They helped each other through their problems but also tackled them independently. It was a team effort, not a rescue mission. I also loved how prominently the college featured in the storyline. One of the major criticisms of new adult college romances is that college/university feels like a wallpaper setting where the students mostly just party and go to rush week, and don't actually do any school work. Garret and Hannah meet when he asks her to tutor him for a class that he's failing - and they study.
By contrast, THE MISTAKE takes everything I loved about the first book and takes a big, fat dump on it. Grace, the heroine, is a virgin. Being a virgin is at the forefront of her mind, because she's suffering a major case of FOMO with regard to the "college experience" (e.g. wild, crazy sex). Logan, on the other hand, is obsessed with Garrett's girlfriend, Hannah. He wants her for himself, and since he knows he can't have her, he just uses a different girl every night (sometimes more than one). When he and Grace meet, he walks into her room by accident and they just watch a movie together. Logan has some problems, but the premise of their relationship isn't really founded on mutual understanding and affection. It's mostly physical; they just think each other super hot.
You could argue that part of Grace's learning curve in this book is dealing with toxic friendships, but I honestly hated the whole Ramona subplot. Grace was very judgey about her friend's appearance and behavior, and even though what Ramona did was wrong, I honestly didn't think Grace was much better. ESPECIALLY at the end, when Grace and Logan save Ramona from being gang-banged at a college party. Grace is absolutely awful about it, thinking to herself how "lucky" Ramona is that she (Grace) is a good enough person to still help her. NO, I'm sorry, but when someone is about to be raped, you don't get to leverage your intervention for good person status. That's super skeevy.
Grace and Logan also weren't together very long before he messed it up (and it was sort of a misunderstanding, really I didn't understand why they broke up over it. Just talk, you fools). Grace LITERALLY gives him a list of tasks to perform before she takes him back, including writing her a poem, taking boudoir photos on a red velvet chase, and having a professional hockey star do an infomercial for why he (Logan) makes a great boyfriend. It was absolutely ridiculous and I know it was supposed to be OH MY GOD, SO FUNNY, but really it was more like, OH MY GOD, BECKY OF THE GOLDEN VAGINA, WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I mean really.
By the time I got to the end of the book, I was done. These people are trash.
1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars