This book started out dull, but it was a nice, relaxing kind of dull. The kind we've come to expect from this genre, with a plot hanging out in the background and threatening to actually be interesting and break up the High School Drama. There was a little nagging feeling as I read it that something was wrong, but it was little, so I could ignore it. And that feeling built, and built, and built...By the end of my reading, I was ready to throw this book across the room and set it on fire.First, there's the usual problems. Tertiary characters have zero personality, no one in Nikki's life counts for shit except for the two main boys, everything is poorly researched (football camp over spring break? So, what, they have to get trained up and ready for the off-season? And the army guy is sneaking into a house wearing a cammo uniform? Yeah, there's going to be lots of trees for him to blend in with there.), and the heavy-handed hints mean the reader figures out the ending about 200 pages before the main character does. But like I said, we've come to expect lazy authors and idiot characters, so long as they still entertain us. (Also, Nikki was not entertaining. Writing a character with a reason to be devoid of emotion does not make flat characters more palatable.)But then there was...the rest. This book spends almost 400 pages blaming the main character for what happened and talking about how she doesn't deserve 'redemption.' Hey, want to know what Nikki's big sin was? She thought her boyfriend cheated on her on the same day that her mother's killer was acquitted at a trial. She was an emotional mess, so she went to a guy who had the power to suck away emotions, starting with pain. This guy promised to make her feel better, all while neglecting to mention that doing so meant she'd be stuck in hell forever.I don't know. Maybe it's me. But I'm failing to see what Nikki needs to beg forgiveness for, here. She was in an emotional chaotic place and got tricked by a guy who took advantage of her pain. And for this, she gets a back cover that says "Six months to find redemption, IF IT EXISTS." Yes, it fucking does exist. She is not branded a broken whore forever because she got tricked right when she was at her weakest point. In fact, she doesn't even need to be redeemed, and it would be nice if SOMEONE IN THIS FUCKING BOOK WOULD POINT OUT THAT FACT. But that's not likely to happen, because apparently this author thinks 'Nikki is a whore for being weak' counts as a valid plot point.THIS IS NOT A GOOD MESSAGE TO BE SENDING TO YOUNG, IMPRESSIONABLE TEENAGE GIRLS. And then, about three fourths of the way through, they start talking about how she has a 'debt' to the Everneath that has to be paid, and that's why she's stuck going back after her six months are up. What debt? She owes them nothing. They gave her nothing, so there is nothing to be repaid. SHE DOES NOT OWE HER SOUL TO HELL JUST BECAUSE SHE HAD A MOMENT OF JUSTIFIABLE WEAKNESS! WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR OWN CHARACTER, BOOK? WHY? WHY DO YOU KEEP TRYING TO CONVINCE US THAT SHE IS A TERRIBLE PERSON FOR BEING EMOTIONAL?And then there's Will and Mary. As a veteran myself, I found Will's portrayal as a drunk-off-his-ass ex-soldier highly insulting. The man had no point in this book besides sitting around and being drunk. I think he had a grand total of three lines spoken. 1) Not every returning vet gets drunk. There are a myriad of ways people react to coming home from something like that, and drinking isn't even the most painful. Plus, the vast majority of us are fine after a period of adjustment. 2) The man is a fall-down drunk and probably suffering from PTSD. HE NEEDS PROFESSIONAL HELP, not a little brother that just picks him up from bars like it's no big deal. 3) WE ARE NOT HERE TO BE YOUR CHEAP, EMOTIONAL ANGST. The only reason for Will's existence is give Nikki's boyfriend one more thing to make him pitiful and put-upon and saint-like. The boy is not a saint for letting his brother stay sick (yes, sick, not broken) and enabling his addictions. If you want to put a sick vet in your story, THEN YOU'D DAMN WELL BETTER TREAT THAT SOLDIER WITH SOME FUCKING RESPECT.Mary is a different problem. She's in the same situation as Nikki, only going to hell the first time made her look old and act crazy. Only, she's not crazy. Like, not even slightly crazy. The girl is perfectly lucid in absolutely everything she says, but because says she's seventeen when she looks 80, everyone thinks she's talking nonsense. Fine, okay, an untrained person probably would think that's crazy. But after Nikki finds out the truth, she continues to call Mary crazy as if it's a foregone fact. Mary is not crazy. Mary isn't even close to being crazy. Mary is a sane, homeless girl who's been abandoned by the person she returned for and is utterly bereft in ways that Nikki has never had to deal with. She deserves more respect and consideration than to be called crazy when she isn't.Because Nikki isn't an unreliable narrator, I'm assuming the author just doesn't have a fucking clue how to write the mentally ill and intended Mary to be just as crazy as everyone claimed. Which leads me to my other capslock of rage: THE MENTALLY ILL ARE NOT YOUR MAGIC, PLOT-DISPENSING FAIRIES HERE TO NUDGE YOUR PLOT ALONG. They are sick, and they are people, and they are not here to spout off confusing-sounding riddles so that you can inch your plot along without resolving it before you're done with your 300 pages of padding. Will and Nikki are probably just my personal pet peeves, but the bizarre attitude that this book takes toward its own main character is enough to warn anyone off this pile of shit. It really is just hideous.