Black Iris is the story of Bonnie and Bonnie on Bitch Better Have My Money quest with a Bad Blood mentality. It's not a Redemption, Coming of Age or Happily Ever After story. So if you are looking for those elements, look elsewhere. It's more of a Bitches Get Shit Done tale with a pinch of romance. Let me make this clear, Black Iris has a bunch of fucked up characters that you're not always going to like, if ever. But that's cool, because they don't really care if you do. And anyway, this really isn't about if you like them or not. It's about straight up revenge.
I was a huge fan of Unteachable by Leah Raeder. It had intrigue, sexual tension, sexy times like whoa, amazing prose and more. Black Iris takes that to a new level. The prose is a lot more pretentious and lyrical and I'm not going to lie, I can see this distracting some people. However, it was appropriate in this case because our main character Laney is a writer and she's a very unreliable narrator. It allows Raeder to really make her scenes and tone to be mentally distracting so the ending packed maximum punch. Unfortunately, it also makes Black Iris extremely hard to review without spoiling the plot.
So instead of just reviewing Black Iris, I'm going to just highlight some of my favorite aspects of the book.
Guys, I loved how mental illness was handled. These days, there are so many books popping up that cover mental illness in a variety of ways, and so many of my friends are quick to recommend me these books. Unfortunately, I usually dislike them because the illness is romanticized, misrepresented or not taken seriously enough. That's not the case with Black Iris. Raeder took specific care to not gift her characters with a Magic Pill or Happily Ever After that cures them of their illness. She doesn't send the message that in order to be happy, you have to be free of your illness. Because sometimes your illness is apart of you and always will be.
There was one moment in particular that I loved. When her mom described why she disliked being medicated, I completely connected.
"I need the highs and the lows."
That one little sentence gets it perfectly right. As a person who has been medicated for depression, I understand the difference and the inability to truly tap into yourself. I used to tell my husband that I couldn't get to myself, couldn't feel my emotions, couldn't reach my sadness or my happiness, and that I needed certain feelings to feel human, motivated and alive. Medication can feel like its own little cage even though it's there to help you. In many ways, finding the right medication and then adjusting to how it possibly changes you, is its own journey. (Note: this is not to say medication is bad, totally not saying that! See your doctor, please, and take care of yourself absolutely!) And, oh wow, I did not mean to get this emotional, but here I am again, bleeding into this review. Take me as I am, friends.
I also loved how sexuality and attraction was handled. Laney is bisexual and it's described in the most beautiful way. I love how she never expected to fall for Blythe. I love how everything got so incredibly messy and questionable. And oh, yes, I loved the sex scenes. I hate to bust out a Pitch Perfect line, but... "John, these girls could turn me!" If you thought Unteachable was hot, you haven't seen nothing yet. Sexual tension was through the roof and Leah let that shit build up just right and then there's splooge, literally and figuratively.
Wow, Steph, that escalated quickly.
The narrator was pure perfection and had this wonderfully deep voice that fit Laney's voice excellently. Her tone wrapped around every syllable and played with Raeder's prose. Every scene was different and she depicted Laney's highs and lows very realistically. I was also really impressed with the narrator's ability to pull off a realistic Australian accent for Blythe's character. Really, I couldn't have asked for a better job done.
The ending was a completely shock to me and I NEVER would have put that together. I worried that Laney may have lost herself in her search for revenge as many in these situations do. She showed no let up even when loved ones tried to pull her back. It's a constant seesaw effect with her and the unknowing creates a real sense of urgency for the reader. Will she go through with her plans, will she abandon them? But that's apart of the appeal of the novel. Sometimes it's nice not knowing until the very end.
Another strong novel from Raeder. I continue to be wowed and impressed by her messy, complex characters. I have Cam Girl loaded on my kindle and I can't wait to see what she does with my emotions next. Highly recommended.
ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review. But I later purchased the audiobook with my very own Audible credits. Best decision, tbh.
What the hell am I? I thought. Too old to be a real teenager, too young to drink. Old enough to die in a war, fuck grown men,Actual rating: 4.5 stars
What the hell am I? I thought. Too old to be a real teenager, too young to drink. Old enough to die in a war, fuck grown men, and be completely confused about what I was doing with my life.
One of the most important points I see argued when it comes to the classification of New Adult novels is, where does it fit? The debate seems to be evenly spit with each side categorizing it as either YA or Adult with a smaller portion claiming it is of its own category. And I get, because it is a hard to place, especially when YA itself frequently blurs the lines. In the case of Unteachable, however, I think the above quote really nails down what some are trying to say. There is a time in our lives when people feel neither teenaged or adult, neither fully grown or child-like. Certain privileges are afforded to you, while others remain outside your grasp. Through it all, you struggle to find a way to fit into this small space that passes by in the blink of an eye.
It would be a mistake to call Maise your average teenager, because she's far from that label with her drug dealing mom and broken home. Forced to grow up at an early age and take care of herself, she sees the world entirely differently than her classmates. But she also seeks out older male lovers to fill the void of a male figure in her life.
Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with dick.
Maise is blunt, unpredictable, hot-headed, strong-willed, independent, flawed, brave, passionate and insecure all in one. After a night of of passion with a guy she meets at a carnival, she finds out that he is her new film teacher. Instead of breaking things off like she probably should have, they explore the limits of their relationship. Secret meetings away from school and make-out sessions after class make up the most of their relationship. But things get complicated when other classmates start to notice Maise's odd behavior and familiarity with their teacher and the risks the couple start to take.
My face lit up with dark glee. "I can be discreet. I can be Harriet the fucking Spy."
Unfortunately for Maise, she was no Harriet the Spy. And if anyone remembers what happened to poor Harriet, she got sloppy and found out by the end. The moments when Maise did a few stupid things had me shaking my head. It was fascinating to see their relationship because Maise constantly wondered what it was about Mr. Wilke that attracted her. Was is a legitimate connection between two people? Or was it just the taboo of having private after school sessions her teacher?
Is falling in love with someone twice your age gross, weird, amazing, or all of the above? The secrecy insulated me in a vacuum-sealed bubble. I could only ask myself, How does this feel? Is this good? Is this right? And the only answer I ever got was my own echo.
I couldn't help but wonder if Maise was even emotionally ready for such a relationship when it seemed to turn into an obsession for her. Suddenly, keeping Mr. Wilke was all she could think about, she second guessed herself more, she got desperate for his attention and jealous. But at the same time Mr. Wilke displays uncertainty of the "rightness" of his actions and struggles with his feelings for Maise.
"I can't hold on to you. You're like that shooting star. Just a trail of fire in my hands."
I admit to being drawn to this book simply for the taboo factor. As much as I love YA, every once in a while, it's nice to branch out to something completely left field. I mean, realistically, there is only so much pent-up sexual frustration, coupled with teenaged wangst, I can take before my head explodes. So thank goodness that Unteachable was around to give me the sexy times and love in such a poetic, lyrical way.
Part of falling in love with someone is actually falling in love with yourself. Realizing that you're gorgeous, you're fearless, and unpredictable, you're a firecracker spitting light, entrancing a hundred faces that stare up at you with starry eyes.
What I loved best about Unteachable was Raeder's prose. I love how Maise is a pretentious protagonist without actually seeming unrealistic. *Cough* The Fault in Our Stars *Cough* I love how hard I could relate to her feelings of not truly fitting into her world or society. I love how she could infuriate me on one page, make me laugh on another and root for her fiercely by the last. I love how Raeder's prose wrapped itself around my brain like a blanket and set off fireworks in my mind.
"I'm not pulling the age card, I swear. But there's something I believe. You should love something whole you have it, love it fully and without reservations, even if you know you'll lose it someday. We lose everything. If you're trying to avoid loss, there's no point in taking another breath, or letting your heart beat one more time. It all ends." His fingers curled around mine. "That's all life is. Breathing in, breathing out. The space between two breaths."
And I love how by the end of this book I cared so deeply for the characters, my feels fell out of my eyeballs.
Very rarely do I see myself re-reading a book, but, guys? THIS BOOK. I would re-read the shit out of it. In fact, I would read anything Raeder wrote. Unteachable is a gem that gave me a bazillion happy sighs. It's lyrical, brilliantly addictive and passionate. HIGHLY recommended.
*And since Unteachable had so many delicious sexy time moments and it's a Kindle lending title, I'm sending it to Kat for some Cuddlebuggery Reading Time. ;)
This is an example of when a companion novel doesn't build on the awesome of an already existing story. Easy is one of my favorite books of all time.This is an example of when a companion novel doesn't build on the awesome of an already existing story. Easy is one of my favorite books of all time. I loved every page, but Breakable? I barely remember what happened. Landon's POV isn't as interesting as Jacqueline's and was a chore to read at times. Other times, when he does have some interaction with Jacqueline, he comes over very stalkish, which I was disappointed to see. Still, I did relatively enjoy it more than Kat did....more