Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 4 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.
Original and refreshing, Rites of Passage captivated me by it's much different setting and contemporary feel. I've never read any YA story like this one and it was nice to see that such a different story could come out of genre that's mostly set in a regular high school or vacation. The whole military ambiance is not something I'm generally accustomed both in books and real life so it was cool to see a bit of how military academies are like. What I was a bit confused about was why it was such a big deal that a group of girls were attending a military academy. I've always assumed that it was normal for both guys and girls to be able to attend a military school. I do, however, love the message Hensley sends out about feminism.
The first word that comes to mind when I think about Sam is courageous. She went through absolutely horrible things before and after she started attending the academy. From the death of her brother to violent attacks on her life, Sam handles it in the best way possible as she recovers and fights back. And what really sucked was that she had very few people backing her up. It was hard to tell between friend and foe until the end. I also love that she starts off the academy doing totally well physically and that the main problem was getting the guys to see her as their equal and gain their respect despite being a girl.
As for Drill Sergeant, we only start seeing playing a role in the story halfway through. I thought their relationship was cute but I never had many feels about him. He was always there for her and was a great sergeant to their team. I loved how confident yet quiet he was. He had this presence that everyone respected. Kelly was another character I had mixed feelings; it was easy to trust him but get suspicious about which lead to many conflicting emotions. But I loved how he was there for her from the beginning. The character that caught me most off guard was Jax. Her appearance in the book was pretty unexpected but I feel like she was the main girl character that Sam could rely on and trust. Plus she definitely helped be their eyes and ears on the outside/net world.