Author: Joy N. Hensley
Publication date: September 9, 2014
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.
So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.
Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.
I've read a lot of amazing books this year and it's only September
And Sheldon accurately describes my attitude during reading. My eyes may have gone a little droopy, but my insides were going crazy. I wanted answers. I wanted my conclusion. But I loved reading it so much that I had a conflict inside. Just a few reasons why this blew me away is below.
1. The characters connected with me so easily it was ridiculous. I felt like I had known Sam forever, like a beloved character, right when I started reading. Some people may say that she did have a similar voice as other characters (like that's a negative thing), but I completely enjoyed it. It was comfortable. And in a way, it was refreshing. It was like meeting tons of new people constantly, getting to know them, trying to decide if you liked them. It's exhausting. So when you run into someone familiar and you already have your judgement in place, it's relieving.
But then the other characters were easy to connect to as well. I loved Drill from the start as well, knowing he was special. I was reluctant about the other girls, but I could easily tell who the trustworthy guys were in the story.
2. The conflict twisted my insides. I felt things for Sam. She was stubborn, determined, smart, and just all-around tough. The sexism of the school outraged me and so I sympathized with her. But then it came time to fully meet the antagonists. I don't think I ever felt my insides twist so much for a contemporary. We were supposed to feel disgusted and the author definitely succeeded in that feeling. Sam was put through abuse, plain torture, and unthinkable sexism. Leaders purposefully planned to harm her and if I was her, I'd be terrified out of my mind. Conflict sounds so tiny compared to what I and Sam felt through the story, but the "conflict" was truly well-done.
3. The romance didn't consume the story, but it was still great to read about. Hensley definitely knew what she was doing. I've read many (and I mean many) stories where they have promising synopses and then suddenly we have the displeasure of them being consumed by unwanted romances. Having a romance is in no way a bad thing. I'm strong pro-romance. But if there are bigger issues at play (or could be at play) then I don't want to feel like I'm in a sappy, contemporary love story. It's disappointing. So with Rites of Passage, I loved the moments with Drill and Sam, but those moments didn't make up the book. There was a time where I felt like it bordered the line, but most of the time, they kept it in check. And while they had great chemistry, they also had a valuable respect, friendship, and work ethic together as well. Now that's refreshing.
I loved the story so much that I hate to even mention negatives to be honest. Of course, I still will. My main problem was the fact that the problems were solved a little too quickly. It wasn't as bad as others I've read, that's for sure. It just stumbled a little into the trap I see a lot of contemporaries fall into: having a rushed, magical solution. I also groaned at the fact that it felt too open-ended. From what I know, it doesn't seem as if there's a sequel in works. The ending of the first book feels like it though. While I would LOVE a sequel, I don't think that'll happen (at least anytime soon), so points are taken off for the open-ending...of sorts.
|I want another.|