Monday, June 30, 2014

Early Review: Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley

Rites of Passage 
by Joy Hensley
Read: April 27 - 28, 2014
Published: September 9, 2014 by Harper Teen
Source: Edelweiss (THANK YOU, HarperCollins)
Category: YA, contemporary, military academy

Find: Goodreads | Amazon

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.

I stayed up until 1:30 am finishing Rites of Passage because I couldn't go to bed until I got to the end. Actually, I did got to bed but after 20 minutes of not sleeping, had to go grab my kindle, because I needed to know what happened next. It's been a while since I've read a book that has hooked me this completely from start to finish. Not only was this story addicting, but I was fascinated by the entire military academy setting. I know the author went to one herself - also on a dare - which added another layer of authenticity to the story. This book doesn't skimp on the raw details of what Sam faces, which I appreciated. Overall the story was just incredibly fun and cool and extremely intense. 

Samantha McKenna is part of the first girl's class at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. Coming from a military family, Sam is prepared. She's sure she can handle the training no problem. There are two things she doesn't expect though. 1) The extreme hostility from (most of) the boys at the school, and how far they will go to drive her and the other girls out of the program. 2) She definitely doesn't expect to fall in love with her Drill Sargent either. A guy who is completely off limits to her. In order to make it through the year, Sam must figure out who she can trust and where if anywhere to trust her heart. 

I would never survive a military school, especially everything Sam faces at DMA. She could definitely give any dystopian heroine a run for her money. Sam is fierce and determined to survive at all cost and never gives up, even when faced with constant pressure from people who will do anything to see her gone. I read this book just after another where the heroine was insecure, constantly thinking about how she looked, and it was refreshing to be inside of Sam's head, who has way bigger problems than her hair. I also enjoyed watching Sam learn to trust and rely on others, despite how incredibly hostile some of the boys are. She eventually discovers that she is surrounded by an incredible network of support, and I loved the camaraderie of her fellow team. 

Drill was pretty amazing and swoony as well. I love, love how he supported Sam. They are the type of couple who is beautiful to watch because of how well matched and in sync they are. They share a fierceness and determination to be the best they can, but also protect each other so well. But they are also a little too similar, and their identical future paths will make a future relationship tough for them. 

I cannot wait to see what Joy Hensely writes next! 

Love Triangle Factor: None - a slight progression. But the first is mild. No wavering. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone - but I want MORE!


  1. See, I would have not given this book a chance! But you make it sounds like I truly should go and read it! Love the romance you hinted with her falling for a "forbidden" boy - love this theme:)

    Oh and .. I would also not ever survive this! I would be thrown out the first day haha!

  2. Like you, I couldn't put this one down! I became so caught up in the lives of these characters and their struggles, so I love that this author was able to do that so seamlessly. I'm definitely game for a sequel--or at least a companion novel which features these protagonists in some capacity--but I definitely enjoyed this as a stand-alone as well. Fantastic review, Lauren! :)

  3. Oh yay! So glad you enjoyed :) Ha! I've had a few cases like this where no sleep until it's really done. I love when real life experiences inspire great books. The concept of this one seems so freakin' cool. Also, Sam? YAY. She sounds so lovable. Really can't wait to read this one. And though you want more, ha, I'm glad to hear that standalones still exist :D

  4. Lauren, I'm so happy to hear you loved this one. I'll be reading it soon too and now I can't wait. I especially love the sound of Sam. She seems like she knows exactly what her priorities are. I didn't know about the author going to a military academy on a dare, but that must have made this book seem very realistic. I'm also curious about the romance. It sounds like something I would enjoy for sure.
    Beautiful review! :)

  5. I don't like you Lauren. I don't have time to read this but I need it so badly in my life. When it first popped up on EW.. I didn't really bother to find out more and had no idea what it was about but I have been seeing some buzz lately and I was curious. This is actually the first review I have read for this book and I am sold. I'll fit it in somehow :P

    I really do I hope I enjoy it just as much as you did if not more! :)

    Fantastic review, Lauren!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  6. Ooh, I remember all that VMI drama! Those poor girls got hazed horribly not just by their classmates and teachers but by the press, too. I don't think I'd have Sam's fortitude to stick with it -- especially if it was something I did on a dare. Sounds like a fascinating book!

  7. YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!! This one was in my Epic Reads bag and I'd never heard of it before then, but since I discovered it I've heard nothing but amazing things. I can't wait to give this a try. I love the military academy setting and I just swooned at my desk thinking of the romance between her and her Drill Sargent. *dies* SO EXCITED!!!

  8. I haven't heard of this one, but I'll definitely be looking more into this now. I love stories focused on girl empowerment, and this definitely sounds like it fits the bill.
    Also: "I would never survive a military school, especially everything Sam faces at DMA. She could definitely give any dystopian heroine a run for her money." haha I loved reading that. So true! I would fail from the first day at any sort of military training program. And why is it that dystopian heroines are always so conveniently athletic, anyway? ;)
    Thanks for your thoughtful early review - you've definitely got my attention piqued.

  9. This one sounds so good and I hadn't heard of it until reading your review, so thanks! The military school part is different and I always love a good forbidden romance. I'm adding it to my never ending TBR list right now…great review! ~Pam

  10. This sounds really interesting and definitely different from what I've been reading recently. And a standalone with zero love triangle nonsense? :) Thanks for the great review!

  11. Oh my gosh! This is one I would have absolutely overlooked because of the cover. SHOCK, RIGHT? But it sounds really interesting and intense and doggone it you kind of make me want to read it.

  12. I know you really loved this one, Lauren, and I can't wait to read it myself! I heard that there's a tiny love triangle because she dates another boy first? But it must not be a big deal since you don't mention it. Sam's journey sounds very stressful and scary, there's no way I could handle it, but I have a feeling I'll definitely be admiring her by the end. :) Lovely review, lady!

  13. I got this at the ALA and now I super excited to read it after your review, here, Lauren! Sort of reminds me of GI Jane with Demi Moore. Did you see it? I really loved that movie for some reason and I think it was a box office flop.


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