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Drowning Instinct

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,664 Ratings  ·  701 Reviews
There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Lerner Publishing Group
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 09, 2012 karen rated it really liked it

this is a karen-four, and maybe not-four-everyone four.

Dec 04, 2013 Giselle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, arc, contemporary
Insane! This is the best word to describe Drowning Instinct. Insanely good; insanely terrifying; i-n-s-a-n-e! Ever since I cracked the cover, I can't stop thinking about this book. First, to analyze it, now, to figure out what the heck I've just read. It's the type of book that you just plow through because it makes you so restless that you must keep reading and reading, all the while knowing, just knowing, that the storm is coming. So close it could be right on the next page. Really, it's ...more
“In my experience, the truly evil are few and good people, with the very best intentions, often make very bad decisions and get in way over their heads before they know it. People drown, quietly before our eyes, all the time.” - (Ilsa J Bick in the Acknowledgements of Drowning Instinct)

I can never resist a compelling, unreliable narrator.

There are few literary techniques I find more engaging than a strong, distinct voice – especially one I’m not sure I can trust. And in sixteen-year-old Jenna
Aj the Ravenous Reader

“Everybody breaks sooner or later…Anyone can drown. Sometimes you see it. Most often you don’t because the body protects and the skin hides, so drowning doesn’t look like drowning and some people scar so nicely.”

No, this isn’t indeed your typical YA contemporary. I should have believed the blurb. Right now I am so tempted to tell you what kind or rather kinds of story this book has in store for you, but I wouldn’t because it’s very important that you find it out yourself and then you’ll unde
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
You can read my review at (tomorrow) or below...

If you are reading my review, let me first start off with a small disclaimer, I seem to be the only one in the entire book universe that disliked this book. In fact, most reviews speak of how much they loved Drowning Instinct. I encourage everyone to read those reviews before you make any decisions on whether this book is right for you.

I had so many issues with this book. But I am going to attempt to keep them down to a minim
Stacia (the 2010 club)
Aug 04, 2012 Stacia (the 2010 club) rated it liked it
Recommended to Stacia (the 2010 club) by: Isamlq
3.5 stars. Deciding whether to round up or down was an extremely hard decision and I'm still not sure why.
I don't want to tell this story and you know why? Because this is a fairy tale with teeth and claws.

Have you ever finished a book and found yourself unsure of what to think? I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around what I just read. Part of me was intrigued by this story, while part of me is sitting here thinking...wait, what?

"Jenna, please. Please, look at me."
I did - and that's
Wendy Darling
3.5 stars This is a compelling read, and I appreciate the complexity/moral ambiguity that the author was trying to portray.

I felt very detached from these characters overall, however, and it doesn't help that I found the story to be predictable up until the very end. I can see why this one has stirred up quite a bit of shock, especially with its more titillating elements. I can't help but feel that though the details of the two stories are different, Drowning Instinct has many of the same melod
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust
I'm sitting here like a retard wondering if the authors brilliant or really cruel....I DON'T KNOW!!!!

Here's a mini summary of the book..

...... I'm not kidding .

I need to think about this....
Review posted on Way Too Hot Books

This book just blew me away!


This book has stolen my attention right from its very first line.
Its stunning, scary, unpredictable and beautiful.
This book is a definite MUST HAVE!

An older man and a teenage girl. Bittersweet romance. Your first thought must be Lolita? High school teacher and troubled student. Sounds like a recipe for disaster or at least some jail time. But, although situations like this would ordinarily cause me to cringe because Im a school teach
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Whoa. What an incredibly dark and well-done novel. I have absolutely no doubt that Ilsa J. Bick will come to be recognized alongside authors like Laurie Halse Anderson. She clearly has no problem plumbing the darkest and most terrifying of human emotions. Like Anderson, she also focuses on teens, on the bad stuff - not the shiny vampires and the sweet first loves.

Reading this's going to hurt. Jenna is incredibly messed up. You learn this up front. She's spent a year in an institution,
Jan 03, 2015 Nina rated it it was amazing
My brain is short-circuiting.

This is the kind of novel that makes you wonder whether the author is a normal human being or someone - something - with preternatural abilities of cognition and expression.
You think I'm exaggerating? You think this is hyperbole? Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not, and it isn't.

This book is FUCKING INSANE.

And believe me, you will be shocked, terrified, horrified, thrilled and amazed.
No matter how realistically absurd the things you expect are, what you'll find is going
Jan 05, 2012 Myvampfiction rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Sue

*Warning: possible spoilers ahead.*

To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what this book was about when I requested it from NetGalley. I knew how I felt about the author’s book, Ashes, so I automatically requested it out of the need to read more of her writing. It wasn’t really even until about 70 pages in that I got the “uh-0h” vibe from Jenna’s teacher, Mr. Anderson that I even went I read the book info. To say the book drew me in is an understatement, because one of the things I
Chiara Cilli

Ambiguo, tetro, sinistro, tremendo e strabiliante.

Come si suppone che debba incominciare questa recensione? Sono davvero in grado di parlare di questo libro, di rendergli giustizia? Certo che no. Quando il destino mette un capolavoro come questo sul tuo cammino, non puoi far altro che arrenderti e annegare.


Mi chiedo quanto forte debba premere per far uscire il sangue. Non forte, decisi.
Qualche secondo, questo è tutto ciò di cui ho bisogno.

Fin d
May 25, 2016 Soplada rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Second Time Reading Edit :
Now we have the fifth star blank place filled and that will maybe explains why this book is my most favorite book of all the time.
the reasons are tiresome to mention they are like. A lot !

Oh ,I'm disappointed , sad , overwhelmed why has it ended that way what happened next?
Or let me talk to myself "who told you to read this book and why ?"
"the book at all felt right"

I did understand a lot of things due to human behavior , relationships , and Love. I never thought
”This is a fairy tale with teeth and claws and here’s what completely sucks: you’re going to want black and white, right and wrong. I’m not sure I can give that to you. That’s the problem with the truth. Sometimes the truth is ambiguous, or a really bad cliché.”

Wow. WOW. I was NOT expecting this story to pack as much punch to it as it did, and have it be so effective as well.

Jenna Lord’s life is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game gone horribly wrong. Her dad’s verbally abusive, her mothe
Dec 31, 2012 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick - Take down the walls

BookNook — Young Adult book reviews

4.5 stars

Holy crap, Drowning Instinct was AMAZING! It was so intense and wrong and heartbreaking all in one. This book definitely would have been great to listen to as an audiobook; I kind of regret that I didn't. Basically, the story starts off with Jenna being brought to the hospital soaking wet, then a detective hands her a tape recorder and encourages her to tell her tale. So the whole story is what she says into the tape recorder, which is why I think i
Dec 05, 2013 Keertana rated it liked it
Recommended to Keertana by: Leanne
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I've been wanting to read Drowning Instinct ever since I first laid eyes on its cover. Admit it: it's powerful. Unfortunately, the story Bick regales is more insane than powerful. Granted, I appreciate the moral ambiguity of the characters Bick has sketched, not to mention the complexity of their situations, but ultimately, this novel lacked a little something. Hope? Heart? Or maybe just purpose...

Drowning Instinct's first few pages are a dream, an intrusion into an original for
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
May 25, 2016 Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries) rated it really liked it
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!
Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?
Disability: o
Intersectionality: o

3.5 stars!

Someone failed to tell me about Drowning Instinct‘s unreliable narrator earlier, which is an act so egregious that it should be criminalized. I love unreliable narrators and I heard a lot was going on at once, which is also a plus. And yet it took four years and the set-up of a TBR Jar system for me to finally read the book. THANK YOU, SERENDIPITY. I
Feb 11, 2016 Imnothing rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: decepción
AVISO: Sí por un casual quieres coger el libro y leerlo, y eres de esos/as que evitas los spoilers, no me leas. Porqué para comentar lo que pienso, es imposible no relatar según que pasajes del tomo. Así pues empiezo:

No te engañaré: engancha y mucho. Es de esos libros, que aunque aborrezcas su contenido, uno es incapaz de separarse de él por el mero echo del "¿que pasará ahora?" Vamos haciendo honor a la verdad: por puro morbo. Bien, haciendo un inciso en lo alto. Te comentaré por encima de que
May 16, 2016 Stiby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pues añadiendo por fin un nuevo libro a la lista de lecturas. La verdad es que salgo bastante decepcionada. No quiero dejarme nada y espero explicar bien por qué no me ha gustado este libro.

Advertencia: Este review puede contener SPOILERS. Más bien sobre detalles, pero avisados quedáis.

Al principio me parecía una buena idea; una adolescente con problemas, íbamos a ver cómo los afrontaba. Psicólogos, autolesiones,… bueno, no tenía mala pinta hasta ahí. Pero a medida que avanza la novela empiezas
Emily (Book Jems)
As seen on Ed and Em's Reviews!

Drowning Instinct is one of the most emotional reads that I've read in a while… in fact, it may be one of the most emotional books that I've read ever.

It's mostly the last hundred pages that did me in. The narrator, while she explains her emotions often, seemed emotionless at the same time. It was almost like she was holding in how she felt and forcing herself to be a robot. I noticed this in the first book of Ilsa J. Bick's dystopian series, Ashes as well. I think
Also found on Dreamcatcher's Lair

Drowning Instinct is one of those books that can't exactly be summed up in a review. But there are certain things I can tell you. Like,

--While the book description tells you a few things, it doesn't prepare you with expectations. At least for me, it didn't. Which means, that the experience that Drowning Instinct packs within those pages, may, in plain-speak, blow your mind.

--There's self harm and all kinds of abuse and other twisted things that will take you to d
'People drown, quietly, before our eyes, all the time.' - Ilsa J. Bick (Acknowledgments in 'Drowning Instinct')

It's been long since I read a book that intense and believe me 'intense' is just the word to describe it.
Maybe it's the title? 'Cause when you've finished this book you just want to cry by simply reading this two words.

By telling her story with a tape recorder to the police one feels incredibly near to the narrator, Jenna. And she's not just any main character you have in random b
Jun 04, 2015 Tamara rated it really liked it
New and incredibly sad.

Love comes from all kinds of things. A shattered home, lost family, and a ruined self, yet love finds you unpredictably.

Mitch may not have been the ideal person, but his love was strong and pure, I only wish Jenna was able to express her feelings to him the way he expressed his. He was a lovable kind of man, he did anything to help repair lives, for his past mistakes and his past despair.

Jenna is trying to live life day by day, Mitch showed her love is more powerful than
Lisa (Badass Bookie)
The Short Story? - My favourite read of the year so far, Drowning Instinct takes forbidden romance to a whole new level. Incredibly raw and undoubtedly powerful, Bick explores the complexity behind a romance that is morally wrong. Dark, grim and utterly compelling, Bick's Drowning Instinct blurs the lines between right and wrong. Refreshingly original and beautifully written, Drowning Instinct takes YA fiction to a whole new level.

The Long Story? - This definitely isn't a novel for everyone
Feb 26, 2012 Donna rated it it was amazing
I've been sitting on reviewing DROWNING INSTINCT for about two months now, doing the Homer Simpson "I wanna" dance waiting for Carolrhoda Lab's special week so I can finally put it up. And now I'm faced with what to say. What can I say other than Ilsa's done it yet again? She's ripped my heart out, stomped on it, sewed it back together and gently placed it back in my chest. I cried like a freaking baby at the end of DROWNING INSTINCT. It's hard to see such a sad character lose a rare piece of ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Isamlq rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the storyteller, forbidden, pieces of us
No matter how well intentioned someone is, the same doesn’t stop them from deciding a certain thing and acting a particular way. You come away from this knowing full well that there really are no stereotypical predators or victims. Predators don’t go around all skeevy and scary announcing to the world who they are and what they want. Neither do victims. And she was definitely one, time and again… so this is me again: torn.

DROWNING INSTINCT enthralled me. Rare is the book that would get me to us
Kata Čuić
I...I can't rate this book. I don't WANT to rate this book. A beautifully crafted, well-written story of the gray area of life doesn't even begin to cover a brief synopsis. I HATED these characters. I LOVED these characters. And that's what has me so bent over this whole story. My moral compass says HELL NO, ABORT! ABORT! ABORT! But dammit...aren't we all screwed up in some way, shape, or form? I know this review is completely incoherent babbling, but quite honestly, that's what I feel right ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Asia rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
I had so many problems with this book. I think the biggest one is that the author tries to make a statement about how "no one is all good or all bad." But a 30-something teacher who sleeps with his 16-year-old student? Pretty much all bad, if you ask me. I wish more had been made about how destructive and dangerous such a relationship can be. (Other than the tidy, completely unbelievable and overly literal ending...)
Aug 30, 2016 Jude rated it liked it
Serious mixed feelings on this one... I'll probably make a video review in a few weeks. Meanwhile I'll go try and do something with my thoughts, really over the place with this book
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Questions about Mitch (SPOILERS) 13 230 Apr 10, 2016 10:56AM  
Let's discuss 2 50 Sep 04, 2014 11:02PM  
Sno-Isle Mock Printz: Drowning Instinct 4 69 Aug 03, 2012 09:05AM  
BookSpark: Win an ARC of Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick 6 35 Mar 19, 2012 07:01AM  
Edgy YA: Win an ARC of the New Edgy YA Book: Drowning Instinct 2 22 Jan 29, 2012 06:27AM  
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Book Bloggers Ano...: Win an ARC of Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick 1 3 Jan 27, 2012 08:36AM  
  • Don't Breathe a Word
  • Sweetest Taboo
  • Want (Want, #1)
  • The Space Between Us
  • The Girls of No Return
  • Flawed
  • Zero
  • Life is But a Dream
  • Innocents
  • Lovely, Dark and Deep
  • Send
  • Live Through This
  • Try Not to Breathe
  • Crazy
  • Hushed
  • The Color of Grace
  • Torn
  • Fall from Grace
Among other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I'm supposed to write things like, "Ilsa J. Bick is ." Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I'm not in the room. Helloooo, I'm right here . . . So let's just say that I'm a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery ...more
More about Ilsa J. Bick...

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“This is a fairy tale with teeth and claws.” 39 likes
“They call it the drowning instinct. It's when drowning doesn't look like drowning. (pg. 241)” 37 likes
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