Review: Going Under by S. Walden


Going Under by S. Walden
Contemporary / New Adult
Penny Press (March 17, 2013)

Rating: B
Heat: Warm

Heroine: Brooke Wright – Artist, Courageous 
Hero: Ryan Foster – Gamer, Harbors a secret 







Before you read this book, you should know this is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence.

Going Under opens up with Brooke Wright attending her best friend’s funeral. Before the funeral, Brooke and Beth have a fight that leaves Brooke feeling extremely guilty and angry with herself. Brooke knows the reason for Beth committing suicide. She lost all hope and became depressed after being raped by a boy at her high school. Consumed by her anger and guilt, Brooke decides to move in with her father instead of moving across the country with her mother. She does this so she can go under cover at Beth’s high school to gather evidence and expose the boy who destroyed her friend. Her plan is to seduce the rapist and then become one of his victims, so she can exact her vengeance against this boy. Sounds crazy, I know. But Brooke was drowning in her guilt and pain.

I wasn’t scared Brooke. I was warrior Brooke, and I was about to take some assholes down.

As Brooke begins digging deeper into the students at school, she discovers there are more rape victims. It’s not just Beth, but many young girls have been victims of rape. And then she discovers the guys from the swimming team have formed a secret sex club called Fantasy Slut League where they chart and score the girls they are with. This disgusting club seduces and tricks girls into going out with them and then gets them to do sexual favors or have intercourse with them. But if the good girls aren’t into these things, the guys drug and rape these poor unsuspecting girls. These girls lives are forever changed because of the evil, sadistic boys who made it a game to violate females.

While at Beth's funeral, Brooke runs into a good-looking, mysterious guy, who she learns later in the story is Ryan Foster. Ryan is a loner and doesn’t socialize with anyone at school. Brooke is immediately attracted to this boy, but if she gets involved with him he can ruin her chances of taking down Beth’s rapists. Somehow, though, this intense and gorgeous boy has invaded her thoughts. She wants to get to know him. So, as Ryan and Brooke become friends, the friendship turns into something much more sweet and passionate. Ryan embraces Brooke, takes his time with her, and really gets to know her. And because Brooke is consumed by her guilt, Ryan is the one solid person in her life that makes her feel better about everything. When she is around him, she can be a teenager in love and not a girl on a dark mission.

Our heroine, Brooke, is smart, snarky, and sassy. I absolutely adored this girl. She’s straight forward and not afraid to put someone in their place. And even though she doesn’t take crap from any one, we still see just how vulnerable she is underneath the facade. She royally screwed up and now wants to atone for her mistakes. I thought her plan to expose the rapists was courageous and yet not well thought out. She wasn’t thinking with her head but with her need to seek revenge. I truly feared for her the entire time.

I wish I could say more about Ryan, but I never really felt like I got to know him that well. For most of the story, it was obvious he was harboring a secret. From Brooke’s perspective, I could see why she was drawn to him. He’s a sweetheart and he did treat Brooke with a lot of respect. And they have some very sexy moments together. Unfortunately, their parts together were small and we really didn’t get to experience all the things they did together. So, even when his secret is revealed, and the story came to an end, I still felt like I didn’t really know Ryan in depth. This is one of those times where I feel like keeping the hero a mystery for so long may have hindered the development of the relationship. This story focused more on Brooke’s investigation and the romance was more like background music.

From the moment I started this book, I had this uneasy feeling in the back of my mind. Even with all the witty quips and teenage romance, this story was leading up to something dark and appalling. It sucks to be right sometimes. My stomach hurt, my heart ached, and I wanted to throw up. I was seething with anger. The subject matter used in this story may be controversial, harsh, disgusting, and a hard topic to talk about, but I’m glad the author didn’t gloss over the ugliness that comes with this subject. It needs to be addressed and never sugar coated. I don’t recommend this story for everyone. It’s a well written story, but if you can’t handle reading a semi-graphic rape scene, I would say this book is not for you.

Going Under is an intense story that will take you on a tumultuous, emotional rollercoaster ride. It’s ballsy, devastating, dark, gut-clenching, and one of those books that will stay with you for a long time. Brooke and Ryan had a lot to overcome before they could have the happily ever after. And, don't worry, there is a happy ending and hope for these two. Thanks goodness for happy endings. This story is painfully emotional and I needed some happiness and peace by the time it ended. I also needed a strong drink and a valium. Despite the uneasy content in this story, there are also some hilarious, sweet, and tender parts to the story that keep the story from being overly dark. After reading this book, I’m definitely going to be checking more of S. Walden’s work.

1 comment:

  1. Paula,

    Thank you so much for your honest, thoughtful, and thorough review of GOING UNDER. I know you wanted more Ryan. The whole world wanted more Ryan! :) It was so hard for me to figure out how to give him equal time in a story that focused on revenge and guilt, not romance. But I totally get it, and that's why I'm actually doing a I *heart* Ryan Blog Tour for May. Lots of Ryan. A Ryan giveaway. Hope you check it out! The details will be up on my blog soon. Again, thank you for taking the time to review my work. Means a lot, and I'm looking forward to the guest post feature on June 7!

    <3 Summer


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