Hardcover: 416 Pages
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Narration: First Person: Sam
Book Trailer: Here
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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.
Boot camp full of dudes. First girls ever to enroll. Now this...this had entertaining written all over it. I was very close to squealing after I read the synopsis. It was a little out of my usual range of genres, but how exactly do you say no to a synopsis like that? Heck, I was about to grab a bag of popcorn to top it off.
So in the beginning of the story, we're introduced to a girl named Sam. Sam was raised in a military family with a dad who lived and breathed military. He was the type of guy to think that girls were weak and dependent, and because of this, Sam was determined to prove him wrong. Did she ever. I cannot even begin to explain the the utter crap that this girl had to put up with. *Insert nonsensical rambling here* There were an infinite amount of times when I just wanted to knock heads together. Especially Matthews. How I hated, how I excreted disgust from my very pores for this boy. I had to get up and kick air for a few moments, because this guy flipped my bitch switch.
Back to Sam. I had to give her props. I'm used to leading female roles who are strong and fierce because of their magic superpowers, but Sam was relentless through sheer force of will. Like I said, the absolute crap she had to deal with...it was enough to drive any person insane. On top of that, she fought back without ever really fighting back. This is the military. You can't yell at your higher ups because things are unfair or you don't agree with what they're doing. Yet she stood up for herself in the simple fashion of not letting anything phase her. They yelled at her. She nonchalantly did what was asked. But at the same time, she wasn't some unfeeling robot who always triumphed. She had feelings. She had emotions. She endured failures. She almost caved a couple of times under the pressure, but she kept herself together.
However, despite how much I loved her, I also felt like she thought the world revolved around her. When everyone else had issues, she gave it 2 seconds of thought and got over it. These are your supposed friends. They've made mistakes, yeah, but there might be reasons or circumstances why they did. She just jumped to the conclusion that everyone was evil and out to get her. Admittedly, there were an awful amount of people out to get her, but still. Towards the middle to end, very rarely did I see her ask about other people instead of being wrapped up in her own issues. In the beginning, she looked out for her friends, but that sort of just disappeared. I know she had a lot on her plate, but it struck the wrong chord with me.
The romance between Drill and Sam was unique. Unlike many YA stories, it didn't happen straight off the bat. They saw each other a bit; there was that initial physical attraction, but it didn't go anywhere. The romance sparks around the middle of the book. This rushed it to an extent, but it was still nice to see something new. Drill was definitely drool-worthy. I think I fell in love with him myself. Throughout the book, he seems so much older than he actually is. It was nuts. They mention that he's 17 often, but you can't help thinking that he's at least 21 or something.
When the story started, I literally had my eyes glued to every page. I think that was mostly because I was so excited to see everything go down. It was intriguing to learn about all the military rankings (Kind of got mixed up on those) and all of the traditions and various uniforms. However, the pace started to slow for me around 65%. There were still tons of things going on, but it wasn't as heart-racing as it was in the beginning.
In conclusion, this is a must read. So far, I believe it's still a stand-alone, but Rites of Passage is definitely set up for a series. There are so many things unresolved, relationships open ended, and people who still have karma coming for them. The writing was excellent, the theme unique, the protagonist diverse. Plus, who can skip out on a book with a synopsis like that? Grab the popcorn. This is going to be a good one.
Action- 3.5/5 Tapered off in the middle
Loved learning about the military world