Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Going Under by S. Walden

Going Under
by: S. Walden
Published on: 3/14/2013
Genre: New Adult

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

My Rating: 5 Coffee Cups!!

Ok, I'm going to start this with the same warning given by the author (which I totally agree with):

*This story is largely focused on the subject of rape, which becomes heartbreaking and gritty—so please be warned that it may serve as a trigger for those who choose to avoid this topic.*

This is one of those books that sticks with you. And I've got to be honest when I first started reading it, I didn't think that would be the case. The main character felt shallow and not very likable and the plot almost had this feeling of being too contrived. But then I continued reading. And wow did this one sneak up on me. You saw where it was going, where it was taking you but I hesitated to follow it right off the bat because, although Brooke seemed overly contrite for her friend's death, I couldn't seem to connect with her right away. Not really. Her relationship with her "best friend" Beth (I use quotations because what she did to her was not a best friend move by any means), her relationship with guys and even her relationship with her mother was very tough to swallow. And because of these things I didn't get sucked in right away.

The book opens with Brooke at the funeral of her long time best friend Beth. They haven't spoken in months and the guilt that plagues Brooke for this eats her alive. They had a terrible falling out, due to a horrible betrayal on Brooke's part. To make matters worse, Beth had confided in Brooke during this time that she had been raped by a guy she went to school with. To complete this unbelievably terrible situation, Beth doesn't die by a random accident or sickness, she commits suicide. I know this may feel as though I'm giving you a lot of information, but none of this is spoilers I promise. This is all revealed in the first 10-ish% of this book. But maybe now you will get a better understanding as to why I didn't immediately warm to Brooke. 

At the beginning of her senior year of high school she has a choice: move with her mother across the country to California or move in with her father a few towns over. She decides that as her own self inflicted punishment she would stay with her dad, who happens to live in the same school district Beth did. She wants to surround herself in her life as a way to not forgive herself. 
 Her first day there she immediately attracts the interest and attention of Cal. Gorgeous, popular, swim team captain, Beth's rapist. And she knew immediately what she felt she needed to do to honor Beth. She needed to draw him out.

“A righteous anger flared in me immediately, and just like that, I discovered a purpose. My purpose. It flooded me instantly, a great wave slamming into my mind and my heart, carrying with it the courage and conviction of my newly formed plan… And I transformed into the predator. He just didn’t know it yet. He thought I was the prey, and I’d let him.” 

Once Brooke (and various friends) starting digging she uncovered a whole club dedicated to the swim club's sexual escapades (some consensual, some not) and the scoring of said acts. It was disgusting, foul and almost beyond comprehension. Fantasy Slut League- or FSL for short- had been going on for years. During her digging she also found other possible assault victims of Cal and his friends and is completely altered by them.

In the midst of her scheming, she meets Ryan. Hot, loner, 6 houses down from her Ryan. He and Cal despise each other. And she knows that for her plan to reel Cal in to succeed she needed to stay far, far away from Ryan. Their attraction and chemistry was hard to be ignored. But it couldn't be helped.

"Ryan chuckled. "You're going to be my trouble this year, aren't you?" he asked softly.
Hell yeah I was."

They had an unstoppable connection and although they each harbored secrets, they were the balm to each others souls. 

This book, once it gets it's hooks in you, doesn't let go until it's finished. The first person POV GUTS you. You feel everything and it stays with you long after your Kindle is powered off. You come to understand that Brooke isn't the horrible person you think her to be as the story unfolds. You realize that she is simply human- flawed, irresponsibly human and with that you find your connection with her. The story is raw, gritty and at times tough to get through. But it does it in such a way that leaves you with only one feeling I can verbalize. WHOA.     


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