Review: Rites of Passage – Joy N. Hensley

Posted 5 September, 2014 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review: Rites of Passage – Joy N. HensleyRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Published by Harper Teen on 9 September 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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5 Stars

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 received a free ARC of Rites of Passage from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*

Rites of Passage is a creepy read, with undertones of The Lord of the Flies.

My Rites of Passage review:

Rites of Passage really shows how much struggle it can be for a woman to be in the army, and even more so because Sam enters a high-school that’s a preparation for the army later, and most of her superior officers are under the age of twenty, and frankly quite upset about the fact that women are now accepted into this prestigious school that used to be an all-men place. It doesn’t matter to anyone that Sam may have all the necessary skills to become a great soldier, that she is physically and psychologically strong, or that she comes from a long line of army officers herself.

In some ways, it was really creepy to see how far some of the guys were willing to go to protect what they saw as their private playground, and with a secret society on campus, that didn’t make anything easy for Sam or her fellow female recruits. The only one of her superiors who seems to be on her side is Drill-sergeant Stamm, but he can only do so much to keep her and the other women safe. Rites of Passage also shows that there isn’t really that much fellowship among the women, either. As they are there for different reasons, and Sam is the one who really wants to succeed and continue in the army.

There are several violent scenes, mostly aimed at Sam, and even those recruits who were on her side at the beginning start letting her down after being punished alongside her. And this is where my Lord of the Flies vibes came from. Kids in charge of an environment that deals with war, and where they also have the skills to go through with their threats. Nobody feels safe after a while, and I felt just as unsure as Sam as to just whom could be trusted, and who couldn’t. With the added excitement of some very secretive e-mails Sam starts receiving, making her realize that someone on the outside might be looking out for her, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading, and Sam was an amazing character to follow.

Written in first person point of view from Sam’s perspective, and in present tense, Rites of Passage worked very well for me, especially because I as a reader discovered things at the same time Sam did. And in several instances, I had to ask myself if it was really this hard for a woman to enter a high profile academy for the army, and I’m betting the answer is yes.

Some of my favorite Rites of Passage quotes:

Jonathan is the cadet colonel. You can’t be all female around him. As if being female is somehow a sickness Mom and I can get over.

The cadre come, one after another. They’re the cadets who will train me, the people who will make me part of a unit with my other platoon members – sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds. And each and every one of them tells me to leave.

We talk for a few more minutes, but my mind spins with words I can’t believe my father ever said to anyone. Hard-ass Lieutenant Colonel McKenna being inspirational? Motivational? Philosophical, even? I won’t believe it. Because if he was ever that way, why couldn’t he be that way with me?

Lexxie signature (un)Conventional Bookviews

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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16 responses to “Review: Rites of Passage – Joy N. Hensley

  1. Wow, this does seem like a well-written and well done story, Lexxie. I agree with you that a woman entering a high profile military institute is probably very similar to what you’ve described here. Sad but true. I like your Lord of the Flies reference as well. This is an excellent review and I’m absolutely taking the time to fire up the crane so I can place Rites of Passage atop Mt. TBR. 🙂

    Happy Friday, Lexxie! **BIG HUGS**

    • Brandee, Rites of Passage is totally worth taking the time to fire up the crane! It is really well written, and I loved the way Sam continued to work really hard, when the odds were totally against her.
      Thanks for stopping by, my dear. *BIG HUGS*

  2. Aha! Interesting premise indeed. I think this is the first contemporary book that I’ve heard of wherein a female MC is studying at a military school. Goodness gracious, that is really hard. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories. We also have a military school wherein girls are also accepted and the stories that I’ve heard were really scary. There’s hazing and other physical violence. Waaaa!

    Bravo to Sam for never backing down!

    Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens recently posted: I Wish There Will Be Remakes Of Book-To-Film Adaptations
  3. I’ve heard horror stories as well, Charlotte, and I’m sure those are true. It was really great to read about a young MC who was so strong and determined, though, so I really enjoyed this story.
    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. It’s frightening to think what can (and most likely does) occur to women in military academy’s *shudders* I skipped over Rites of Passage on Goodreads, thinking it wouldn’t be handled well or realistically. You’ve convinced me I need to give it a chance! I really like that the MC is a strong character – we definitely need more of them 🙂 Great review Lexxie!

    Alma @ Journey Through Fiction recently posted: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging
    • I know, right? And especially because all those people who enter the army are supposed to serve and protect, not prey on their own.
      I’m glad I convinced you, Alma, I really enjoyed this a lot 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I’m happy that Hensley was able to pull off the first person POV, so many authors struggle with that one. However, I’m a bit of a wimp, and I don’t know if the Lord of the Flies angle would work for me. That first quote you shared kinda turned me off too. But, I know this genre is your cup of tea, so I am glad that it worked for you!

    • It’s a pretty tough story, Carmel, but I still enjoyed it. I know you prefer more fantasy and less reality, and that’s all good, you know? I really need to catch up on some PNR or fantasy one of these days 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Yes, very, very creepy, actually. And even more so because not only the young guys at the academy knew about it either.

      Thanks for stopping by, Brandi.

    • There is definitely the idea of female empowerment, but not from all of the girls. Sam is pretty awesome, though, Kat. I hope you’ll enjoy her.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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