I received this book for free from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Published by Harper Collins on September 9th 2014
Source: Harper Collins
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.
Review: When I was a kid, I secretly loved this Disney Channel film with Hilary Duff called Cadet Kelly, in which an artistic teenager is sent to military school and that painted a fairly idealised view of military school with Shawn Ashmore as the romantic lead. So reading the summary for Rites of Passage, I couldn’t help but be intrigued, however I didn’t expect to enjoy Rites of Passage as much as I did.
Sam is one of the first female students at Denmark Military Academy, attending after her brother Amos dared her shortly before his suicide. Her other brother is not particularly impressed by Sam taking it up.
Where Hensley excels with Rites of Passage is in making it more than a guilty pleasure read set in a military academy with secret societies. The discrimination, hazing and harassment Sam endures is painful at times to read and unfortunately felt realistic. Sam is the sort of character who won’t allow people to treat her and others this way and I think this carried the story well. My only criticism is that at the beginning of the novel, Sam was a little critical of some of the other females in her class and their physical strength. While Sam developed from this point, and perhaps this was a deliberate device by the author, I would have hoped for stronger camaraderie and loyalty. That said, Rites of Passage is a brilliant read and one that examines and exposes discrimination and sexism very well.
I really enjoyed this book and the combination of thriller elements with the secret society, elements of romance and generally awesome narrator added up to a great read I would highly recommend.