**spoiler alert** 3 stars for this novel :) Thank you so much to RaShelle for the review copy via First Reads! She also signed it as well as a bookmar**spoiler alert** 3 stars for this novel :) Thank you so much to RaShelle for the review copy via First Reads! She also signed it as well as a bookmark. It's a beautiful book too! I'll say right off the bat that I did notice some minor formatting issues - but I also saw about 5-10 spelling errors. I think this book could have done with a couple more edits, but the problems weren't that distracting.
I think Rashelle Workman is a talented story teller. Once I started reading this book, I finished in only a couple of days. It's fast paced, though I wish the ending was a little more fleshed out - all of the reveals come very fast, I wish she'd managed to weave the threads a bit deeper into the story.
The story, overall, was interesting and pretty unique - though I can understand how some people may have been surprised by the intensity of the violence and sexual content by reading the description. I think warnings for adult content and violence are needed. I also was irked by the constant 'women are the only victims of DV and rape' throughout the book - it's so common in our society and it needs to change. Men are 40% of the victims of DV, as well as being 1 in 6 rape or sexual assault victims, just like women are 60% of DV victims and 1 in 5 rapes/sexual assaults in the United States. They're about half on both counts - so why is only one mentioned? I think she could have been more inclusive here. Just a little nitpick I have.
There are three things, besides the above, that kept this from being a 4 or 4.5 star read. Firstly, the main characters. I didn't find Maddie or Kyle that believable. I was homeschooled my whole life and I have lots of friends who were, and though none of us were super sheltered and went on to pretty normal teenage lives, there is NO WAY a homeschooler for the first time experiencing college would be as gung-ho as Maddie. It just didn't feel real to me. One day, she's homeschooled, the next, she's okay with her roomie doing hard drugs, drinking, and sex? It just doesn't reflect my experience whatsoever nor the experience of any homeschooler I know. I think she could have added more tension there. I did, however, enjoy Maddie's character in terms of her music as well as her tattoos really interesting. I enjoyed those parts of the book very much, and it made me like Maddie as a character despite finding her kind of unbelievable. As for Kyle, I just didn't feel like his voice was captured in his chapters as well as it could have been - I feel like more length and more of a glimpse into his life would have been better.
The second thing would be Gina. I loved her. She was, bar none, my favourite character. I've known girls like her, and she felt real. RaShelle writes good dialogue throughout this book (I applaud her for that, dialogue can be the hardest part of writing!) but Gina's is spot on. Though Gina is a 'typical' 'bad girl' character, she has a lot of personality. I'd love to know more about her - and it just wasn't there!! I know there will be a sequel, but still. So many loose ends with Gina at the end made me feel like I was missing a chapter.
My final issue was the writing. Now, as a writer myself, I do find it hard to review the work of other authors - especially indie authors. Because I know the struggle they go through to improve and how truly difficult it is to write a novel! I think RaShelle Workman is a good writer. I really do. She can tell a story very well - and that's the number one thing for me reading any book! She can write excellent dialogue. She can keep good pacing, and she writes good 'sexy' scenes as well. I also LOVED the setting of the novel, I could really 'feel' it.
That said, I did find a few things with her writing I didn't like. I intend this review out of caring for the work of RaShelle and indie authors in general - which is why I rarely review more mainstream stuff. It's hard to be objective when you subconsciously find similarities and differences to your own writing work.
I hated the short sentences. There were so many. Just like this. All over a single paragraph. So many times. Enough to make my head hurt!
I think short, snappy sentences can and do work, and there were a lot of times it DID work. However, there were so many times I was 'hearing' the words in my head and the flow sounded awful because of periods, periods, periods. Commas can be your friend ;)
My other issue with the writing is some of the descriptions. There were at least two cases of the butterflies in Maddie's stomach seeming to have a mind of their own, a la Fifty Shades. Which I HATED. At one point it says something about the butterflies dancing to a Nina Simone song and sipping a drink or something and I literally burst out laughing. Which wasn't really the feel of the scene. It might just be a preference of mine, though.
I wish there had been more character descriptions - which is something I rarely say, usually people write waaaay too much. Maddie and Gina were pretty well drawn out, but the male characters were really lacking. All I remember about Kyle is a string of adjectives - I couldn't say his hair colour, height, or eye colour and I finished this book an hour ago.
One more thing I didn't feel comfortable with was the ages of the characters as children. It felt reeeeally weird that eleven year olds made a sex pact. I think this would have been better had they been a few years older.
This is becoming an essay, so I'll wrap it up. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the journey I was taken on by Mrs. Workman. I think she's an author to watch and I plan to read her other books! Thank you RaShelle and Goodreads :)