Rites of Passage
Author: Joy N. Hensley
Publish Date: September 14th, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance
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 received an ARC of this book free from the Goodreads First Reads program.
I was so so so happy when I found out that I won this book. I was extremely excited to read it because it reminded me of that Disney Channel Movie Cadet Kelly and because it sounded so cool.
First things first. I was really happy when I realized that the drill sergeant was NOT an old guy but someone that was Sam’s age. I hate reading about weird relationships like teacher/student, elderly/young woman, etc. It makes me feel really uncomfortable. The same goes for cheating if the main character is directly involved in the relationship. The romance in this book was great because it didn’t take over the story. The relationship didn’t even really ignite until more than halfway through the book. I liked this because it focused on Sam and ohmygod Sam is FAB. She’s confident and persistent and she has flaws and she’s just great guys. She’s great.
What I really liked about Rites of Passage was the format and structure of the writing. It was nice and told in a way that gave all details while also not causing it to become really slow and with the plot of this, it could have easily happened. I loved the first-person narration of Sam. I liked how Hensley put the story together and especially how she waited on the romance. Sam didn’t just give up all her morals and goals and go after Drill. She knew that doing it could cause her to be kicked out of the school. Sam was logical and because Hensley wrote her this way, sticking to the character, the plot was logical. The only problem I see with the romance is that although Sam and Drill might have seen and spoken to each other a lot, they didn’t really know each other. There was chemistry and them getting together was inevitable but I would have liked to see more scenes where the two of them interacted like a couple. It makes sense that there weren’t very many (because Sam had more important moments in the book and because of the circumstances of their relationship), but maybe in a sequel? *awkwardly winks at imaginary Joy N. Hensley*
Just try telling me that this isn’t awkward
THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THIS BOOK GUYS. SO SWEET. SO VERY VERY SWEET AND GOOD. Sam’s attitude and relationship with the other characters is so realistic. Her relationship with her parents is real and her relationship with her friends is even more real. It’s all extremely realistic for a character who is quick to judge and even quicker to not trust others. They were crafted perfectly.
What I love in a book is when everything is relevant. There aren’t many unnecessary scenes that don’t contribute to the plot like in certain other books *cough The Here and Now cough*. Everything leads up to an important scene whether it’s the actions of another character or a meeting Sam has with someone else. It shows great planning and thorough analysis of what the author is going to write.
There was so much research put into this book. Everything from life at a military school, uniform, positions, clothing, structure, to speech patterns. It’s executed fantastically and I learned a lot from it. I now know what dress blues are and how recruits are initiated and other stuff. I had no idea that military schools were that tough and I know that I ain’t ever gonna go to one now.
Rites of Passage also touches on a few topics. Early on in the book, you learn that the reason Sam is at the school is purely because it was the last dare her older brother, Amos gave her before he had committed suicide. There are feelings of never being good enough, having no support, etc. It’s not romanticized but it’s not the focal point of the book either. Hensley balances it extremely well with the mystery.
I’m extremely unhappy about the fact that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as other reviewers. I loved the technical aspects of the book and the way that everything was written and planned but I didn’t ever connect with Sam most likely because I can’t really relate to all of the aspects of her life. It had everything I loved in a book but I didn’t end up loving it like I wanted to. I really wish that I would have liked it more and I’ll probably be rereading it a lot in the future so that hopefully, I’ll connect with the characters more and end up sticking this on my favorites shelf.
Rites of Passage is a well-written, unique contemporary that has all of the components of an amazing book. Definitely a must-read for all fans of the contemporary genre.