Feud has a lot of elements that usually appeal to me – a dystopia, forbidden love, ballet, even cage fighting – but I just couldn’t get into this book. The plot’s insipid, the world building’s lackluster, and there’s a horrific case of instalove that I just couldn’t stomach.
Normally I’m not really bothered by instalove, but in the case of Feud it’s so bad that it undermines any potential the book has. The only thing that Cole knows about Davis is that she’s a Prior who’s into ballet, and the only thing that Davis knows about Cole is…oh, wait; nothing. I mean it – not a thing. And yet the two fall in love, to the point where they’re willing to sacrifice their families, their friends, and their own well-being for each other. Um, what?
Their romance could have been so, so great if Hastings had just given them time for their relationship to develop. Cole and Davis are from opposing social classes; Davis is rich, beautiful, and smart, with every luxury available to her. Cole, on the other hand, is poor, discriminated against, and forced to fight for his life in a cage for other people’s entertainment. You’d think this would provide for some great tension between Cole and Davis – I was anticipating a great hate-that-gradually-turns-to-love relationship reminiscent of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse – but it just doesn’t happen. Instead, Feud skips the hate completely and goes straight to unfounded, head-over-heels passion. I enjoyed the attraction between Davis and Cole, the tingles and make-out scenes and sexual desire, but them being in love? I didn’t buy it, and this made it incredibly difficult to be invested in their relationship.
Another thing I found strange is that even though they’re supposedly so madly in love, Davis and Cole sure don’t have a lot of faith in each other. They’re constantly misconstruing each other’s motives and falling for other people’s lies. You’d give the world for each other, yet you so easily believe that your other half would betray you? Doesn’t make sense to me.
The storyline and setting underwhelmed me, too. I know I should describe the plot, set the scene by giving some context about the Priors and Imps and the world in which they live, but I was so disenchanted and unengaged by this book that the thought of delving into its events is about as appealing as doing my taxes. Just take my word for it that the plot and world building are lackluster and not nearly scintillating enough to compensate for the poor romance.
Feud isn’t wholly without merit. Cole may be way too free with his heart, but he is a sexy guy, and I liked the intrigue of him being bribed to get close to Davis. I was also really into the idea of him being a cage fighter. My husband and I are huge fans of mixed martial arts and even got tickets to an Ultimate Fighting Championship event as a wedding gift, so Cole’s occupation as a fighter really appealed to me. I was especially intrigued by his mixed emotions towards the fights, the way his fear and guilt and self-loathing temper the rush he gets from fighting.
Another thing I liked was Davis’ non-cliché relationship with her stepmom and half sister. Her stepmother is a sweetheart and really loves Davis, which is a nice change from the “wicked stepmother” trope in fiction.
Ultimately, though, the bad in Feud far outweighs the good. The only thing that kept me reading to the end was the fact that I really hate not finishing books, and even that was barely enough to get me through.