Toxic by Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin, #2)

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After several months waiting for this precious book (along with Fearless) to arrive at my home, I kind of forgot how good of a writer Rachel Van Dyken is. I mean, I remembered how great Ruin was, because I literally devoured it in just a few hours and left craving for more. But I didn’t truly recall the part where the words and the story were so powerful that just got through you and stayed stuck inside, left you feeling totally stunned.

Toxic is amazing. It’s really impressive the way a book can transmit you such passion and an innumerable amount of feelings, deep ones.

“Death and love are the only two things that exist in this world that are strong enough to alter the course of your life, of your destiny. They either propel you or paralyze you. In the end, the choice is always yours.” 

At the beginning, I had this vision of Gabe of being the unexpected best friend of Wes that was his exact opposite. And you could had some vague suspicious about something else going on in his life, at least more than he could tell. But that’s a big understatement of what was really going on. He was literally living several lives. When we met him on Ruin, we knew Gabe; this rehabilitated womanize pretending being happy with his friends, and trying not to be a player with girls after all of what happened with Wes, except he wasn’t being truthful about who he was and what he felt and thought. After four years living like him, he couldn’t keep pretending that easily, having this huge fights inside his mind between the obligation of staying like that and going back to the past.

“Just because we aren’t crying on the outside doesn’t mean we aren’t completely wrecked on the inside” 

At first, I couldn’t really imagine what he could do in the past that was so damn terrible that lead him to create his alter ego. I thought it was something he did on purpose, like conscious about it, so he felt he no longer deserved to live. But, at the moment you knew about Princess and their relationship he stills have with her, you could realize that he wasn’t bad at all as he saw himself. I mean, I can’t imagine a lot of things that are worse than causing that to a person you love, and the fact of having to remind it every single day, because not only you feel guilty about it but also because you have to live watch and experience the consequences every day. He was really a sweetheart and so considered and caring with her, always available when she needed something, even if that involved going to the Home and sing, just for her. He really was the only thing she had left, and he did the best job possible, considering it was all because his fault in front of his eyes. Although I have to admit that at the beginning I couldn’t understand how he preferred that she way, she isn’t the same person she had felt in love with. She is like his little sister. So, yes, is cruel to deserve death to someone, but in the end, you got yourself to question, is that really life? She would want to live in that way? Is kimmy inside of her? So many moral questions…

It was so sad to experience his entrance to the desperation vortex that guided him directly to the path of destruction. Although it wasn’t like before, he couldn’t just have sex with a total stranger, even if he needed to forget, so, alcohol always seems like a good idea. I was so happy when Wes showed up, and more excited when he treated him like he needed to, like a true friend.

“Don’t let pain keep you from moving forward. It shouldn’t stop your progress – it should drive it.” 

About the whole relationship in process, I must admit that Saylor didn’t catch my attention at all. She was too judgmental for me. But, once again, that could be the perception I had as a reader, knowing all the chaos that was inside Gabe’s mind, and that you couldn’t possibly blame him because of the hell he was living through. I really don’t know how he felt in love with her. It was in the music room and because their connection with music? Or was it because she was so different of what he was used to? Or because he needed to feel love again? Maybe were all of them.

First of all, she knew he was hiding something at the moment she saw him, and I think that really disarmed him because he wasn’t expecting it. Also, they had this huge connection with music, while for Saylor it was all she does for living, for him it was his way of escape. So they perfectly understood each other, in the same terms. I think music is a pretty important part of the book, not that I share their position, but allows you to get inside their hearts and minds. But music wasn’t the only thing they shared, the Home was the main place where they got together, and they could then learn about what the other loved. Saylor could see how he was with Princess, and he could see how caring and giving she was.

“Everyone wears masks. They come in all different shapes and sizes. The only problem with trying one on – is that it fits. How easily we fall into the trap that we don’t have to be who we really are. How easily we convince ourselves that we need to cover up what we were born to be. It’s a tragedy – that fear keeps us from our destiny. It’s hell – when the person you were created to be – is covered up by some cheap imposter.” 

It surprised me the appearance of Gabe’s dad. I didn’t really know what the whole deal with him was. But it certainly shocked me how he wanted to gain money at the expense of the secrets of his son. Parker’s revelation to his friends was not at all like I expected. I really thought it was something bigger going on, more than an alleged father wanting to get fame of his former superstar child. And despite the fact that I really wasn’t expeting for him to be a retired superstar, what really surprised me was Saylor’s reaction. What. A. Witch. She knew he had secrets, dark secrets, and even though he already had shared some of them with her, it just wasn’t enough. I really hated her, she literally ran away when he needed her the most.

“It’s funny isn’t it? People claim to know what love is — yet the minute they’re given the opportunity to prove it — they bail.” 

Anyway, despite the chaos that caused this revelation, truth really set him free. And once you discovered his secret, he started to transform himself and assume his truly self, that in the end, was a mix between Gabe and Parker. The perfect mix.  I loved the way his friend accepted him, and in the end, after considering the whole situation with his mom, Saylor stayed by his side.

“The truth really does set you free — but what they don’t tell you is the process hurts like hell.” 

The end of the book was really emotional. It was precious the way Saylor supported him and accepts the fact that she has to share his heart with his former love. After all, she really understood him. It’s impressive how endings are really new beginnings. And in this case, Kimmy’s death meant a new chance for Gabe of letting go all the guilt and pain and starting being happy.  Even though I found their wedding a little too soon, once you remember how life can change in just a second, you can’t really argue with that.

Toxic is an amazing book, to the point of tears. I really devoured it, just like with Ruin. Rachel is without a doubt an excellent author, and one of my favorite’s ones, and I can’t wait to start reading her other series. Vivan los libros, viva el amor!

“That’s how risk works. You don’t know it’s the right choice until you’re freefalling, and even then you still have butterflies — but at least you were the one to take that step over the ledge.” 

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