Review: Rites of Passage

Posted October 30, 2014 / Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Review: Rites of PassageRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Genres: Young Adult
Published by Harper Collins on September 9th 2014
Format: Audiobook Source: Audible

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.


This is just going to be a random spilling of my thoughts instead of the usual well thought-out reviews I normally do. I just have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I started it because of the insane amount of blogger hype surrounding it. It sounded like a great “girl power” book that I would really like, despite the fact that the military setting really was deterring me. I decided to give it a try anyways. My feelings are so mixed for a variety of reasons. It fucked with my emotions, man! And not in the way I like for books to fuck with my emotions. Here’s a summary of my thoughts:

  • Beginning: Okay I can see why people like this. Enjoyable narrator, too.
  • 1/3 Done: Jesus this hazing is killing me, I can’t listen to this. I need to stop listening to this.
  • 1/2 Done: Okay I’m about to DNF. This is too hard to hear.
  • 2/3 Done: Hmmm maybe things are getting interesting. ~*RoMaNcE*~
  • 3/4 Done: Some predictability here. Kind of enjoying this. More hazing. Blah.
  • Ending: You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!11

Grrrrr. So Sam was a fucking awesome main character. She was a badass who would NOT quit no matter how shitty (and difficult for me to listen to) things got for her. Literally nothing could stop her. I was rooting for her and, really, for the advancement of women in general. Matthews was misogynist and awful and I wanted to jump in and murder him. Same with all of the others that hazed her and treated her like shit. Maybe I just don’t understand military protocol, but jesus SOMETHING could have or should have been done about all of that. It infuriated me and caused me to ALMOST quit this book.

I decided once I was maybe 60-70% in that I was kind of enjoying it. Up until this point I was moderately bored because the plot consisted of getting hazed, working out, and getting hazed while working out. Finally they started to figure out some of the reasons for the crazy shit going on, there was all of that sexual tension, and I finally felt like something was happening in this book. The last two hours of the audiobook were kind of a whirlwind of things coming together and ya know, all that usual ending stuff.

I had it in my head that I was going to give this three stars because while it was a powerful book, it was too hard for me to hear. I couldn’t bear it. Towards the end I started thinking, wow this book may have been worth the time after all. Maybe it deserves four stars. Let’s see what happens….

AND THEN UGH. The last two chapters of the book came and made me angry for a variety of reasons I won’t share because of spoilers.

I think that the bottom line is that I can appreciate what this book was trying to do and the message it was portraying. Sam was great; without her strength throughout the book, I completely would have DNFed. I liked her relationships with the nice characters and cringed whenever she dealt with the evil ones. I know that the whole point of the book was to show how she could overcome sexism in the military, but ugh it was too much for my heart. I couldn’t listen to it. It enraged me. SO OVERALL now that my rambling is done, this book proved itself to be a solid three stars. Appreciate the message, content, and character, but just asfghkghlk otherwise. Frustration. Anger. Sadness. Cringing.

I realize that I’m the black sheep on this one, which happens sometimes and that’s fine, but this just wasn’t the book for me. The raging feminist in me is saying YES FUCK THE PATRIARCHY GO SAMMMMM… but the book reader in me is saying meh, I should have gone with my instincts and avoided this one.

(Also, this movie was all I could think about throughout)

5 responses to “Review: Rites of Passage

  1. I love that gif! I love that movie. Anyway, I’ve been dying to read this book, the military and hazing aspects actually drew me to it because both are pretty rare to read about in YA (as far as I know). Plus I think hazing is…interesting in general…That sounds bad, doesn’t it?

    Anyway, I’m glad you liked Sam as a character and that she was a strong, capable, no quitting kind of character. That’s great. I’m curious about the ending that caused you to dislike it.

    It’s perfectly fine that it wasn’t your cup of tea book, that happens occasionally with readers. 🙂 Nice review. I’m really (really) interested in reading it now.

    • Haha same here. Sam made the story slightly more worth it for me. I appreciate the whole message behind it. If you’re interested in hazing/military books, definitely read this one. I just don’t think it was for me. Quality of writing and characters was totally great though.

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