Real Ugly, by C.M. Stunich

real ugly

Grade: D

Doing it at: 64%

Catnip: Horrible Humans; Rock Stars; Tour Buses; Drugs; Deep Dark Secrets; Bathroom Floor Sex; Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: This one’s not good, if the people who taught me to read knew I was using those skills for this I’d be so ashamed.

Fantasy Cast: I’m not wasting someone hot and tattooed on this book.

Book Description: 

“These are real people with real problems. This is real life, and it’s real f*cked up.”

Turner Campbell is an asshole.

I f*cking hate him.

But I can’t get enough either.

He sings like an angel and f*cks like a devil.

If I could, I’d run away and never look back because to tell you the truth, I think this man might be the death of me.

& & &

Naomi Knox is a bitch.

I can’t f*cking stand her.

But I can’t stop thinking about her either.

She looks like an angel and plays like a devil.

If I could, I’d f*ck her good and forget all about her, but to tell you the truth, I think this woman might be my last saving grace.

I love books about rock stars, and tours, and dysfunctional bad asses. One of the first “edgy” books I read in my mid teens was Pagan Kennedy’s The Exes (where are my zine grrls??) and ever since then I’ve devoured almost anything in that genre and liked most of it. But Real Ugly? This book, Guys. It had a lot of things, but likable characters and a cohesive plot were not among its attributes. I finished it begrudgingly, because I wanted to review it, and because I’m trying to have fewer DNF’s this year. Really I could just plug this review full of all the quotes I highlighted and you’d have a fair idea of how not good Real Ugly was.

Our book opens with Naomi Knox, lead guitarist of Amatory Riot, watching Turner Campbell sing with his band, Indecency, and opining about how he’s a devil that looks like an angel. There’s some immediate but confusing foreshadowing about some deep dark secrets between Naomi and Turner, some secrets between Naomi and her band’s lead singer, and just some secrets that Naomi is holding in general. The two bands are on a tour together, traveling in separate buses across the West Coast, and Turner hasn’t really noticed Naomi even though they have HISTORY. He barely even pays her any mind when Naomi catches him jack hammering her lead singer on her tour bus, both of them completely wasted.

I throw the leather boots over my arm and stumble back to the bus, fully expecting to find Hayden right where Wren left her – drunk and drowning in puke. When I open the door, I get a whole other story.

“Right there, baby,” Hayden is growling, hands curled around the edge of the countertop. Behind her, Turner Campbell is thrusting his dick like he’s in a fucking marathon or something, gripping her skinny hips with white knuckles and squeezing his eyes shut tight. He doesn’t even look up when I ascend the creaky steps.

Naomi physically removes a rutting Turner from her band mate, puts him to bed in her bunk, and lies down on the couch. Which is where she’s sleeping when Turner comes to a few hours later and wonders who that hot babe is, with no recollection of how he got on her bus. Naomi confronts Turner about his hooking up with Hayden the next morning, yells at him, gets in his face and slaps him. There is so much hitting in this book. Someone is always getting mad at someone and the main characters are basically always dirty, sweaty, bloody, high, and/or drunk. SO charming.

Turner decides to inquire into who she is and comes up with very little info, she was a foster kid, she doesn’t fuck any of the guys on the tour, she’s a bitch. What he doesn’t remember and what I’m going to spoiler-y reveal right now so if you think you might actually want to read this close your eyes and page down all the way to the end….Ready?

Turner met Naomi when she was 16 and he was already touring with Indecency doing the rock star thing. She was living with awful foster parents and had gone out to a show and was being attacked by some rape-y dude. Turner punched dude out, took Naomi out for a night of fun, GOT HER NAME TATTOOED ON HIS BACK, took her virginity, said he was going to take care of her, and then left town. Lets address this tattoo before we move on to the rest of the spoilers. He has had her FULL NAME tattooed on his back for FIVE YEARS and here he is on tour with her and he never realized who she was:

What kind of tool has no idea what name it is he got tatted on his friggin’ back?

Your musing is correct Turner, what kind of tool, indeed?

Moving on, he left her after saying he was going to save her from her sad fucked up life with foster parents who were beating, starving, and raping their own daughter and were about to move on to torturing Naomi. He also left her pregnant. So, Naomi does what any girl in that situation would do: she gets an abortion and stabs her foster parents to death with a pair of scissors. Ya know, just girly things.

just girly things

Naomi tells Turner that he got her pregnant way back when (but not about the murdering just yet) and he’s all “Where’s my baby? I already love our child!”

She drags out telling him that she aborted his precious off spring and also the author drags out just having them do it already. When Turner and Naomi finally get to doing the devil’s dance it’s on the floor of a filthy bathroom in the venue they’d been playing:

My hands curl, fingers clawing at the tiles, sliding through bits of soggy toilet paper and discarded tampon wrappers. I should be disgusted, but I’m not. I’m excited, thrilled even. All this time hating Turner, wishing him ill, wanting him dead, has built up into this angry sexual fervor that begs me to ride him until my heart explodes from my chest and my fingers draw blood from his back.

Okay, enough ruining the surprises for everyone else!

Nestled within this epic romancing, there is also a sub plot of someone stalking Naomi and leaving her ominous messages written in bird’s blood. We get Naomi trying to cut her tattoo off her own ankle in a dirty parking lot, really bad song lyrics, a whole crew of dysfunctional side characters, and no satisfying resolution. The book ends in a massive cliff hanger and I can’t decide if I love myself enough to not find out what happens, or if I owe it to the world to see this through so no one else has to?

Real Ugly also gave me possibly the grossest what my sex partner’s kisses taste like quote of all time and this is how I’ll leave you:

she tastes like dirty candy and blood and sweat and ash. Best damn shit I ever tasted. Period.