Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Rites of Passage

RITES OF PASSAGE
Joy N. Hensley
Contemporary Young Adult
416 pages
HarperTeen
Available September 9th
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


MY THOUGHTS
Rites of Passage is a phenomenal debut from Ms. Hensley, gripping from first page to last with the only source of disappointment stemming from the fact that it actually ends. It’s a book that doesn’t allow us room to think about becoming emotionally invested, rather it gives us a young woman of extraordinary determination who yanks us into her story with the sheer force of her impressive will. Once there, we find ourselves angry to a degree we’ve rarely reached between the covers of a book, and we can’t help but be grateful that Sam’s story–though likely more than real in so many ways–is fictional, and with that fact comes the comfort of knowing the cruelty she’s subjected to will not go unpunished in the end.

Sam is a young woman we can’t help but be proud to know despite the fact that she exists only on the pages of her story, her fight to stay at the Denmark Military Academy no matter what abuse she faces one that has us ready to raise our fists and inflict physical damage on her behalf. With every demeaning comment and every spiteful ploy to get her to quit she only digs her heels in harder, taking each blow on the chin and to the gut but never once letting them see that their blows made contact. She battles impossible odds as well as both indifference and betrayal from those who should be first in line to support her, and while she gets worn down as the mistreatment continues mercilessly, she still straightens her shoulders and manages to show proper respect to a chain of command that does nothing to protect her.

Threaded through Sam’s epic battle to pave the way for other young women set on attending the DMA is a tension-filled romance with her drill sergeant, a relationship executed so perfectly that despite the fact it exists on the periphery of Sam’s daily fight, it becomes an unforgettable piece of her story. Drill is one of the few people who restores our faith in humanity while reading, proof that power and control in the hands of the strong are tools that build people up, while those same things wielded by the weak do nothing but tear people down. He is a safe haven for Sam as much as he can be with the rules of fraternization in place and their ranks an obstacle they may never be able to overcome, and though the focus remains resolutely on the inspiration that is Sam, we couldn’t be more thankful for his presence in her life.

We’re left with two major villainous players in place and free from the justice they so richly deserve, but overall things for Sam wrap up nicely as her first year at the academy comes to a close. There’s room for more of her story though if we’re lucky enough to see a sequel from Ms. Hensley, and there's little doubt in my mind that everyone who picks this book up will reach the last page and want more. Rites of Passage is a debut that should absolutely not be missed, a powerhouse of a novel with a heroine who has us wanting to scream, yell and thump our chests in an outrageous show of solidarity for her ability to make it through what we’re nearly positive we’d never have the strength to endure.

Rating: 5/5



Find Joy:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

31 comments:

  1. I'm super excited about this book!! I really want to meet Sam. Thanks for the lovely review :)

    Eileen @ BookCatPin

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    1. It was outstanding Eileen, I honestly cannot say enough about it. An all-time favorite:)

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  2. I can't wait to read this book, Jenny. :) I'm hopefully going to start this next week. Sam, seems like such a strong character, and I like the fact that it can relate to life in general more even though it fiction. Lovely review! :)

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    1. I hope you love it Emma! I was so, so angry while reading, but Sam was absolutely amazing throughout. <3

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  3. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one Jenny! I for one really liked it but there were a few things that kept me from completely loving it *sigh* I feel like a black sheep saying that! That being said, I loved Sam so much and how she was such a strong herione and didn't back down and well i kind of also completely loved Drill! Great review :)

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    1. I would have perhaps loved a little different ending with the romance, but it made sense given the military's strict policies on relationships. I'm just hoping we get a sequel or a short novella or something at some point ;-)

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  4. OH MY! This sounds intensely good! Kind of reminds me Cruel Intentions Military style.

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    1. IT WAS AWFUL FELICIA! Awful in that I hated what Sam had to go through, but I couldn't have loved her more. Such a great read!

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  5. Ohhh! I keep hearing good things about this one, and I'm SO happy to see that you enjoyed it! I love the sound of Sam, though, and I'm glad there's room for a sequel, because it looks like I'm going to love it! Beautiful review, as always, Jenny!

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    1. READ IT HAFSAH!!!! I saw it on Asma's list today, and I tried to convince her to read it with the use of all caps ;-)

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  6. I am doing a happy dance Jenny because I LOVED this book and I LOVED your review because it said everything so perfectly about how I felt about it. This was so outstanding and I am seriously keeping my fingers crossed that we get a sequel.

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    1. WASN'T IT AMAZING?!!!!! I might die a little inside if we don't get a sequel at some point. I know she has no plans currently, but I'm hoping that will change ;-) *wills her to write a sequel of year 2*

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  7. I loved this story so much! I want more. There NEEDS to be more with that ending. It can not end that way!!!

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  8. Oh, Jenny! *sighs* *sighs again for good measure* I agree with you. I thought this novel was just splendid. I didn't expect this level of awesomeness when I picked it up. In fact, I didn't expect any awesomeness at all, and look what I got. I agree with you about the romance too, it was perfection... until the very end. That's where it was a bit of a letdown, but I'll survive.
    Anyway, wonderful, wonderful review, my friend.

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  9. This book wasn't on my radar at all until I heard about it on your blog, now I'm definitely getting myself a copy. I already know I'm going to love Sam and root for her like crazy. I love the idea of a girl forging a difficult path so others can follow, and the fact that there's a romance on the side of all of it just seals the deal. Lovely review!

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  10. How have I not heard of this book before, Jenny?! It's sounds fabulous and I love that it's completely different from your ordinary contemporary YA. I must get a copy! Fantastic review as always. :)

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  11. YESSS to EVERYTHING you said here. I was literally on the edge of my seat for the entire time I read this, completely gripped by everything. That hasn't happened to me in a while. I couldn't even sleep until I finished the story, I was so wrapped up in Sam's journey. Hensley made this story come to life. Oh and Drill, I love that boy so much. I love how you describe how he uses his power to strengthen others. I keep thinking of that hazing he led (I forget the term), where he has them work out so hard that Sam is dying, but he's also encouraging the group to lean on each other. Just a powerful scene. But the end SOBS. I want MORE. I'm desperate for her to write another story for these two. If she doesn't, I've made one up in my head. Lovely, lovely review, friend!

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  12. I have yet to read a not so flattering review for this one. Everyone is loving it! I grabbed a copy the other day and I need to find time to read this. Loved your review.

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  13. Oh yes I have seen a few reviews about this one and they're all awesome! I confess that now I'm really curious about the book, it sounds so good! Great review!

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  14. I hope the villains get what they deserve in the next one!

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  15. God, I've heard such good things about this story and I now MUST READ IT. It's outside my usual reads but, yanno, that's totally cool. I can't wait to meet Sam.

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  16. Oh man, this doesn't seem like an ''easy'' read. I know I'd have to be in the right mood for it but the reviews are so praising that it might happen soon :D I'll read it for sure one day. Sam seems like a character I will like/adore/love/admire/etc. I can't wait to meet her. Great review, Jenny!

    PS. I started Trial of Fire. It's really good xx

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  17. I have a copy of this from the ALA, but I'll admit I'm a little nervous to read it. It sounds like a harrowing experience! This sort of reminds me of that Demi Moore movie, G.I. Jane. I actually really enjoyed that movie even though it was kind of a flop (I think) at the box office. Wonderful review, Jenny! :)

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  18. I hadn't even heard about this book until a couple of weeks ago, and now I've read a few gushing reviews, it's definitely on my radar now! Glad you loved it, and I hope more readers discover it too:-)

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  19. What a fantastic review, Jenny!
    Now I really want to get this one, even if I know it will make me rage and scream and cry for the main character! I know that I wouldn't probably last more than a day at a military academy!

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  20. I've been hearing such amazing things about this one! I'm definitely adding it to my list but I'll have to make sure I read it when the kids are in school so I don't get snarly at them when they interrupt me. :)

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  21. Awesome review! This has been a big hit with a few of my other reviewer friends. Glad that the hype continues and that you enjoyed it :D

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