The Failing Hours is the story of Zeke (obviously) and his tutor Violet – the very same tutor who stood him up in one of the first scenes of The Studying Hours.
Surprise, surprise. Zeke has been pissing a whole lot of people off, not the least of which is his wrestling coach who decides that if Zeke wants to stay on the team, he’s going to have to put some time and effort into a mentoring program for younger and mainly underprivileged children. Now let me just say, Zeke is as far away from warm and fuzzy as you can get so the idea of him mentoring and being a Big Brother to a young and impressionable child is beyond laughable. He takes the ‘chore’ on with as little grace as possible and it was so fitting watching him deal with a younger version of himself, attitude and all. While Zeke and Violet meet per his tutoring requirements, they further develop a friendship of sorts when they bump into each other on his first Big Brother outing.
Zeke comes across as such a hateful person who gives zero fucks about anyone but himself. He has no family to speak of and he even keeps his friends – if you can call them that – at a far-off distance. He doesn’t do relationships, doesn’t do attachments, and he certainly doesn’t do girlfriends. His treatment of Violet was at times cringe-worthy and once I understood why he was the way he was, I really wanted so much more for him. He had so much heart and generosity in him, but refused to allow anyone any glimpse of that in order to protect himself.
Violet is such a beautiful person. She’s an orphan and hasn’t seen the small family she has remaining due to financial costs. Essentially, her roommates are her best friends as well as her family. Everything instinct of hers is to give, give, give and she does, with all her heart: whether it’s baby sitting, helping a friend in need, or helping someone see their true worth. For all of this, for all her understanding of Zeke and his temperament, she was far from a pushover. She knew her limits of tolerance and wasn’t about to let anyone push her beyond those. She was honestly the perfect match for Zeke.
I was so apprehensive about this book, given what we knew of Zeke in book one: he was mean, he was nasty, he was a douchebag of the first degree and I honestly, I didn’t think he was redeemable. To say the least, Ney had her work cut out for her buttttt she came through with brilliantly flying colors! The Failing Hours doesn’t have the same humor we experienced in The Studying Hours and THAT’S OK! There was still some snorts and smiles throughout but it wasn’t the laugh out loud comedy of its predecessor and that’s a fact that I’m glad about. This book and these characters have a different story to tell and it’s not always a pleasant one: this was intense and sweet and utterly enthralling and an absolutely perfect story for the douchiest of all. I think Ney was true to the characters with the way the book played out and I commend her for it. While this book is a standalone, I’d still suggest you read book one first so you can get a better knowledge of how much of a douchebag Zeke can be. Plus I loved Oz & James so I’m a tad biased!
*Reviewed by Melinda for Joandisalovebooks Blog.