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.
(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence.)
Erm… Hmm… wow… Okay, I need to be careful in my review here as I feel like this is so sensitive…
This review will contain minor and major spoilers. I will warn before the major ones, but I don’t feel I can write a review without the minor ones.
This was a very dark, brutally intense story. It deals with in depth, detailed cases of rape and sexual abuse. It contains predatory, evil characters and some incredibly harrowing, emotional topics.
Loss, guilt, betrayal, lies, gang rape, violence, bullying, grief… it’s all there in Going Under. And not only is it there, it is written about with no holds barred… there is no where to hide from this excruciatingly painful journey. I feel that I need to get that out there before I go on. This book will not be for everybody. If you are easily disturbed or at all closed minded, do not read this book.
However, if you can deal with the heartache, then this book is well written, thought provoking and does have a HEA.
It was decided. I was going to let Ryan Foster do me.
So, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve only given this four stars… Let me try to explain. Firstly, I really wanted to love the heroine, and for the most part, I did. But then I had this niggle in the back of my mind about what she did to her best friend, Beth, with Beth’s boyfriend, Finn. I couldn’t seem to let that go. That, to me, is unforgivable. And it wasn’t like she was head over heels in love with him. She broke her friends heart, lied and cheated on the BFF she’d known since she were a little girl, for some random boy that made her feel tingly when he kissed her. And not only that, she knew that Beth had been raped and carried on the affair. That is just not okay. I had trouble with finding forgiveness for that and, as a result, found it difficult to really connect with Brooke as much as I’d have liked.
I did like that she owned her sexuality. She was an ordinary eighteen year old girl who enjoyed and wanted sex. (Perhaps a little too much, if her relationship with Finn is anything to go by) She recognised her sexual attraction to Ryan and wanted to act upon it.
He looked at me with those ocean eyes, his brows furrowed in thought, and I decided in that moment I didn’t want to hang out. I wanted to make out. Hard.
She was witty and strong, most of the time. I liked her relationship with Gretchen and I likes that she had a backbone. In that way, she was relateable and, surprisingly for such a dark book, I laughed a lot.
“I was just embarrassed. I thought I kissed you all wrong.” He hung his head.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked. “I nearly came.”
I am the biggest moron on the planet. Why did I say that?
Brooke’s guilt leads her down a path of self destruction and into dangerous waters. She can’t shift the burden of her betrayal and as a result, tried to avenge her late friends honor.
Seduce him without him knowing, give him the perfect opportunity to take advantage of me, then make hi pay for it afterwards. Could I actually go through with it, though? Could I give up my body as a sacrifice to seek vengeance? Was I strong enough? Crazy enough?
I loved that there was such a strong storyline to this book. The plot was solid, well thought out and totally intriguing. I couldn’t imagine how it was going to end and I was happy with the way it did.
“I’ll tell you,” he said. “But first, let me say how much I love you, Brooke. I told you a long time ago in a bad place when I was a bad person. I’m not there anymore, and I’m not that boy, but my love for you has never changed. I love you. I’ll always love you. There simply isn’t anyone else.”
I loved Ryan. He is a great character that epitomises the perfect saviour. There were some fantastic scenes that built a delicious sexual tension between Brooke and Ryan. I’d have loved to read a little more about Ryan, but there was so much more to the story that I felt he took a bit of a back seat to the rest of the plot.
Ryan chuckled. “You’re going to be my trouble this year, aren’t you?” he asked softly.
Hell yeah I was.
Major Spoiler Alert
[Brooke’s rape is intense. My heart was hammering the whole time and I was like ‘What? No! Surely not!!’ It was a bold, ballsy move from S. Walden, to write that scene in and I commend her for doing so. It made such a profound difference to the rest of the book.]
Major Spoiler END
Overall, this is a book reaches out to places I’ve never been when reading a book, it’s so ‘stand alone’, unlike anything else I’ve ever read, that I can’t really find anything to compare it to. The writing is brave and unapologetic and I loved it for that. I wanted to help Brooke on her crusade and I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what happened. I needed to know whether the evil characters suffered their comeuppance and whether Brooke was able to let go of her guilt.
“There’s still time, Brooke. There’s always time to make it right.”
“No, Beth. There’s no time,” I said out loud, choking on the words.
So, there we go. Like I said, it won’t be for everybody, but I think I’ve included enough warnings and explanation that if you like the sound of it all, you’ll enjoy this book. Just, be warned, it’s as brutal as they come!
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