*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
When I hear comments about a book that start with “controversial”, “in your face” or “pushes the envelope” I know I need to read said book, I have to discover for myself what all the fuss is about and I really am glad to say I read Going Under with high expectations and it did not disappoint.
Brooke Wright has been engulfed with guilt following the suicide of her best friend Beth. Brooke is aware that she isn’t to blame for her friend’s death but that doesn’t help the feeling of shame and guilt that wrack her body continuously. Brooke slept with Beth’s boyfriend behind her back and got caught. She shattered Beth’s world when her friend needed her most. Brooke also harboured Beth’s most intimate and terrifying secret and the guilt of Brooke’s inaction also consumes her. So when Brooke decides to move in with her dad after refusing to move across the country with her mum she also has to attend a new school, the same one Beth went to. During Brooke’s first day of school she comes face to face with the guy that destroyed Beth, Brooke knows how she can atone for her sins, one word: revenge.
Brooke formulates a plan, albeit a reckless one, she is determine to expose the players of her new school and get justice for her friend. What Brooke doesn’t count on is the sweet boy Ryan whom she meets along the way but also the danger she is putting herself in. Brooke’s life changes from the moment she sets her plan in motion and it’s not all for the better.
I really enjoyed the writing style of this book, I was captured from the very first page. It was easy to get lost in and the characterisation was great. Brooke was a real girl, there was no hiding her character flaws but surprisingly I never once disliked her. You would think with her previous actions it would be grounds for instant dismissal but I felt Brooke was punishing herself enough each day for her actions that I couldn’t dislike her, I in fact felt sorry for her and only wished she would find peace within herself.
What added to my enjoyment of reading was the anticipation of something big still to come, I knew the controversial scene was up head and although I had a pretty good idea of what it would be I still didn’t know the circumstances of how it would happen, so as I progressed through the story my anxiety was rising and I was waiting for ‘it’ to approach and at 80% when it was still yet to appear I was a bag of nerves thinking “just put me out of my misery” it was safe to say my nerves were frayed at that point.
What I enjoyed about this story was this particular topic has often been covered in books, although I find it is more often than not the aftermath that we see or the character experienced a traumatic event years ago and we meet them after the fact. So I found it really refreshing and brutally honest of the time frame and perspective we read in this book. We can’t deny that it does happen in this world so why hide the horrible truth? I will say it is superbly written, in my opinion it was written in a way to imitate real life, it wasn’t done for the shock factor or to cause the reader discomfort. After I read the book I thought it was actually less horrific than what I built up in my head due to all the buzz about it. It was tastefully done. Yes I did shed many tears as I read the tough scenes and I think this was because it became all too real and my heart broke for every woman out there affected by this abuse.
I will say one shining light in this book was Ryan. From the word go he had me on side. I knew nothing about him but I just knew he was a good egg and as the story continued and he became even more perfect I was swooning hard for him. Of course every good guy harbours a secret and my heart broke when his was discovered. I was upset for the powerless adolescent Ryan was and I was upset for the circumstances now surrounding him and Brooke. I must say the author did put my heart back together at the end so it was well worth it.
The side characters in the story were great and even though most only had small parts, they were very much needed. I loved Gretchen as Brooke’s best friend. She came across as ditzy and undependable but she showed her true strength when Brooke needed her the most and was always there for her. And then there was Terry, Brooke’s co-worker and friend. I was so glad Brooke had him to go to for help and much needed advice.
And then there was Brooke’s dad. I loved him! He really made me laugh, (he actually reminded me of a certain dad in that little Vampire movie franchise ;)) threatening potential boyfriends of his daughter with his gun. “You think this is a good idea? I can tell whoever this is that you’re not interested. I can say it while I’m holding my gun.” All joking aside, the scene when he discovered Brooke in her car almost broke me, no parent should ever have to discover their child like that and I sobbed for them both.
Going Under highlighted the reality of these Fantasy Slut Leagues and I’m horrified that they exist. I hated each and every guy within the club, Cal, Parker and Tim’s actions were unforgivable. Again this is props to the author’s writing of her honest portrayal and I am glad it has raised awareness of this issue.
S. Walden added a note to the end of this book explaining why she included a certain element into the story and I was actually surprised upon reading it as it wasn’t something I questioned when reading the certain scene. I took it for what it was an believed it could happen. So I was slightly surprised that it was an issue of discussion but then I think everyone processes information differently and our own beliefs and feelings determine if we question science. (I am aware this makes no sense as I try to keep it spoiler free, but it is an interesting topic if you have read the book)
Going Under is a raw, rich tale of redemption, forgiveness, second chances and justice. I really do encourage you to pick this book up, even if you would normally shy away from this topic or if it isn’t your usual read. The writing alone makes it well worth it.
My Favourite Quote . . .
“Mom always taught me to never find my happiness or self-worth in another individual, and I tried hard to adhere to that advice, but I couldn’t deny how I felt when I was around Ryan. He was a savior to me. When I was with him, all of the hurt and guilt vanished. I thought he had the ability to put my brokenness back together. Maybe that wasn’t progressive. Maybe that wasn’t all “liberated woman,” but I didn’t give a sh*t. I wanted to spend my every waking moment with him because when I was with him, I felt safe.”
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband, who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. She is the USA Today bestselling author of Going Under. When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her twitter feed at @swaldenauthor.
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter