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 petty...no 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!