Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of PassageRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Page Count: 416
Published by: Harper Teen
Source: eArc received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

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First, let me say that this book needs a sequel!! I need a sequel! This was beyond awesome as a stand alone, but I am SO in love with these characters that I need more of them. Please???? I don't even know if I can convey how insanely awesome this book is, because I'm overwhelmed with all kinds of feelings right now.

I really enjoyed the large cast of characters. There were quite a few bad (BAD) guys who I disliked, but there were SO many good characters that they overshadowed the bad. The protagonist, Sam, was so likable! She was strong, independent, determined, and stubborn to a fault. So of course I was rooting for her from the very first page! Drill Stamm was... swoonworthy. There, I said it. I know the girls are going to go crazy for this guy. (I would go crazy too, if only I were 30 years younger!) He was such a stand up guy and so honorable, it would be hard not to like him.

The story was downright gritty and realistic, with an intensity that will have your emotions running high. It was written with such detail that I felt like I was right there at the academy with Sam and the guys. There was serious hard core stuff going on throughout the story, with a ramped up ending that will have you desperately turning the pages to find out what happens next. The forbidden love storyline was slow building and mostly on the backburner, but when it was in the forefront it was so angsty...and I do love me some angst!

I totally judged this book by it's cover, and I'm thrilled to say that it completely exceeded my expectations! I was so into the YA military stories that came out in 2012 and 2013. But this one, by far, was the best that I have read.

Rites of Passage really has a lot going for it. There was family intrigue, action, danger, friendship and romance. Everything came together so well in this book, and it just worked. Joy N. Hensley is an amazingly talented debut author, and I have to say that this is my favorite book of 2014! You really need to read this book. You won't be disappointed!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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