Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Rites of Passage

Rites of PassageAuthor: Joy N. Hensley
Published: September 9th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Lenght: 416 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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 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.
Sometimes, though not nearly often enough, a book grabs my attention from start to finish and refuses to let go. Rites of Passage is one of those books that make you experience and react strongly to everything that happens, but also forces you to realize some harsh truths about yourself, truths you could have kept hidden and unacknowledged otherwise.

In other words, it made me face the fact that I’m a wuss.

Watching Sam McKenna go through hell at the military school she chose to attend on a dare – not only physical hell, but emotional as well – made me realize that I might just be a quitter somewhere deep inside. However, while I can’t finish a year (or even a day) of training at DMA, I can certainly finish a book in one sitting. Or, you know, several. Hah! Take that, Mac! You can do a gazillion push-ups, but I can turn those pages like nobody’s business.

And turning the pages frantically is exactly what I did. Unexpectedly… shockingly even, Rites of Passage was very emotionally draining. It had been a long time since a book really made me cry, but watching Sam being ostracized, completely rejected not only by her peers, but by her dysfunctional family as well, broke my little heart into a million pieces. I admired this girl’s bravery and persistence the entire time. She never once faltered, not even when she was left all alone, beaten and abused.

I was also more than a little surprised by the quality of Hensley’s writing. Her language is simple and clear, but the level of emotions that permeate every sentence of her narrative is extremely high. I have, unfortunately, learned not to expect much when picking up something entirely unfamiliar, but my low expectations made this whole experience that much more thrilling.

The ending, however, was less than satisfactory, which broke my heart in a different way altogether. This was going to be a perfect five-star read until things started to unravel. When they did, they went in two different directions: some were resolved far too neatly and suddenly, and some felt completely unfinished. The romance especially, after a whole lot of build-up, didn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling like I expected and needed it to after the emotional turmoil this book put me through. There is talk of a sequel, however, so hopefully things won’t be left like this permanently.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I have to agree that the romance left me feeling a little disappointed by the end, despite the realistic and hopeful note it ends on, but either than that the emotional upheaval I went through while reading this book was just...unimaginably surprising. Such a phenomenal debut and I cannot wait to see what she writes next! :)

  2. Yes! I loved this. It caught me way off guard with how good and deep it was! So glad you loved it every bit as much as I did.

  3. "In other words, it made me face the fact that I’m a wuss."

    Haha! That is pretty much how I felt too. I already knew I was a wuss, but this book only served to confirm it.
    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book too. I was so invested in it. I actually finished reading it in about 3 hours, which doesn't happen very often with me. There was just something about the author's writing style that refused to let me go.
    I have to agree with you on the romance. That was too disappointing. I definitely needed something more solid at the end. I hope we will get a sequel or even a companion!
    Lovely review, Maja!

  4. Eeek. Other people have mentioned the fact that the romance was somewhat unresolved and now I am worried because I love my romances and it makes me a very unhappy owl when things don't turn out the way I'll like them. Now I am hoping there will be a sequel.

    Also, I am openly a wuss so I won't have the same problem except that that just makes me even more scared to dive into this book! Grrr I had no idea her family also turned into douches so that makes me even more sadder. I am going to need to find someone to hold my hand now while I read this. *sigh*

    Lovely review, Maja!!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  5. I have realized I'm a wuss and a lazy arse quite a long time back but I guess that like you I tend to ignore those facts. Military school would make a quitter outta me so fast that it'd make me head spin for sure, that kind of discipline and physical and emotional effort... not my thing at all!

    I'm glad to hear the book surprised you so positively even with the ending being a disappointment...

  6. Fingers crossed for a 2nd installment, because an unsatisfying ending like that simply will not do for a stand-alone. It's so disappointing when you're reading a book, and it has serious 5-star potential, only to have it fizzle in the final pages. What a bummer! :(

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

  7. Sorry to hear the ending wasn't as wonderful as the rest. I like the sound of Sam, and this has been on my TBR

  8. I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH MAJA!!!! Emotionally draining is the perfect way to describe it. I agree with you on the romance though, I did wish for a few more of the warm fuzzies in the end, but I understood why that couldn't entirely happen. The military is a tricky place for romances. I'm hopeful we'll get a sequel eventually though, and then maybe we'll get that HEA:)

  9. "Her language is simple and clear, but the level of emotions that permeate every sentence of her narrative is extremely high." I appreciate that more than I can say. And it's difficult to pull off, especially with that level of emotion. NEED to read this book!

  10. This one is next in my TBR pile so I'm really excited that you loved it so much, Maja. I don't think I'd last a day at military school either but I'm looking forward to reading about Sam's experience, even if it's not the most positive.

  11. I'm definitely excited about this one! Everyone seems to be loving it. I'm also going to wish for a sequel or a HEA even though I haven't read it yet haha.

    Eileen @ BookCatPin

  12. I can't believe that I hadn't head of this book before until today, I just read Jenny's mini review which had me intrigued, but this review has certainly convinced me to give this book a go. I love books which effect you so much and leave you thinking about it for days afterwards. Fab review Maja! :)

  13. I read NIck's review of this one last week and I am convinced I need to read it. I know darn good and well that I wouldn't survive at military school either. But like you, I can sure flip those pages. I am disappointed that the ending isn't stronger, though.

  14. Girl I'm a wuss as well. I'd leave that camp after one night there! So yeah, we better go on some sunny beach with books, right? :) Still I'm so happy that you too loved this one. I highly enjoyed it too and we seem to have same opinions about this book. That ending made me strip half the star for this till that ending perfect read. Great review, Maja :)

  15. Well, I know I'm a wuss so that won't be a surprise here. LOL I loved the sound of this one until that ending. However... *whew* there is a sequel. I might be able to handle that ending now. Usually I'm a bit more forgiving when there is more to be told. :) Brilly review!

  16. Oh it sounds good! I didn't know this one I confess but I'll have to look closer to this one because it's the second good review I see today and it males me curious. It sounds also intense and I'm curious about the end now. great review!

  17. Man, I just told myself I won't read this yet because I've yet to recover from the latest emotional wringing I've endured with a book. This one is begging for my attention though. I already feel for Sam and I haven't even met her fully yet. I will be preparing my feels for this book. Amazing review, Maja!

  18. Wasn't this fantastic. I really want another book and talked to the author, it isn't planned yet but we need to go back for next year and there were enough loose ends that I need some closure.


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