Twice as Nice: Going Under by S. Walden


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

Rating: A-
Heat: Warm

Heroine: Brooke Wright – Senior, Vengeful 
Hero: Ryan Foster – Senior, Secretive 


Don’t forget to check out our Guest Post & Giveaway for Going Under by S. Walden!




Warning: This book contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence.



Going Under is the story of Brooke and her lifelong best friend, Beth. Told in the present with frequent flashbacks, as well as in dreams that are more like nightmares. After Beth takes her own life, Brooke is haunted by her specter. Her entire world revolves around Beth... and revenge. Saddled with so much guilt, Brooke turns that energy into seeking justice for Beth. Brooke is on a one woman crusade to take down the boy whose actions took Beth away.

Before she knows it, her crusade sets things in motion that she can't stop. It becomes bigger than her and quickly grows to be too much for any one person to handle. What started out as revenge against one boy turns into two boys. Then three. Then four. Potentially the entire high school swim team.

Brooke is completely dedicated to Beth and Beth’s ghost. She turns herself into a martyr—all because she made one very big mistake. A mistake any teenage girl could make. Hormones are a bitch at that age. But Brooke can’t see past her guilt, so she makes one questionable decision after another. Putting herself in serious danger. And even though she had me biting my nails and saying “no no noooo”—I was proud of her too. She knew something wasn’t right at her high school and she did something about it. She’s an incredibly brave young lady. I felt for her. I understood her. I wanted to hug the ever-living hell out of her.

It’s always described as melting, and I finally understood why. I thought my body was turning to liquid. I could feel my bones giving way, threatening to dissolve and leave me one big puddle of goo.

When she met Ryan Foster, who has a few classes with her and lives just six houses down from her, things started to look up for Brooke. Ryan is a bright spot in Brooke’s dark life. This sweet, thoughtful loner of a teenage boy won me over immediately. Full of secrets, it’s not easy to get to know Ryan. But just as Brooke was drawn to him, I was too. Ryan is one very, very generous and caring lover. Seriously, he has moves. Hot moves. Oh, man, I won't be able to look at a video game controller the same way again. If I had met Ryan in high school, yeah, I’d have thrown myself at him too. I loved him, plain and simple.

What I didn’t love was practically every other teenage boy in this book. Holy crap. These guys made me want to puke. And then beat them up. And then call the cops on their asses. Grrr. There were a few scenes that were so intense and downright awful that I was breathless. And even though I knew it was coming, the rape scene still wrecked me. Not overly, distastefully explicit—the author handles it with care and tact—but it still packs one heck of a wallop. Straight to the gut.

I realized I needed to look at evil in an entirely new light. Most bad guys weren’t running around with eyes bugged out. Most bad guys didn’t come across freaky and frightening…Most bad guys were normal, everyday guys moving through life like anyone else… They were hard to spot and that’s what made them so good at being bad… They could get away with it, and they knew it.

Going Under manages to evoke some serious emotions—beautiful and ugly both. Anger. Disgust. Sadness. It paints a very ugly picture of high school and life in general. You’re forced to dive head first into a place no one wants to go. Ever. At the same time, there are friendships and relationships that are full of hope and happiness. Love. It’s a very fine balance with such a dark topic, it could very easily be a depressing read, but Miz Walden manages it. She infused a wonderful light throughout this darkness without taking away from the brutality of it.

This may not be the most romantic book, the focus isn’t on Brooke and Ryan, but it is not a book to be missed. Romance can take a backseat every now and then, if the story is powerful enough on its own. In Going Under, it is.


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