Saturday, September 20, 2014

Discussion Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

I'm doing something a little different today! If you've ever been on YA Midnight Reads (and obviously you have duh) you'll know Melanie, Celine and Larissa often do discussion reviews. Well today I've got Melanie over here co-reviewing RITES OF PASSAGE with me. I'm so excited because this is the first time I've done one of these and it was so fun! Mel is one my best blogging friends and I was thrilled to do this with her <3

Firstly, thanks to HarperCollins Australia for this ARC <3


Release Date: September 9 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
Mel's rating: 
My rating: 

"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 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'm physically incapable of saying no to a dare"

Jaz: I absolutely loved Rites, from the beginning it was so intense and felt so genuine!

Melanie: Right? I felt like I was at Military school myself, I was definitely not surprised to find out that the author actually went there when she was younger.

Jaz: That made it all the more real. I really felt like I was Sam going through the brutal treatment of being a 'Worm' at the DMA. I had no idea it would be like that. The culture, the way they treated Sam and the other new female recruits though - brutal!

Melanie: Yeah, I felt myself getting pretty angry for Sam because of the way she was treated. I loved her perseverance and bravery to stand up for herself. I clicked with her pretty quickly.

Jaz: Me too! I thought she was a fantastic protagonist. Henley did this amazing job of making her relatable in a situation that would be very hard to picture. I mean, I would not survive one day in that Academy. The way Sam never backed down was spectacular. I really admired her strength; she was always so selfless too - some of her fellow recruits dragged her down but she would always wait for them and encourage them.

“I won’t turn on her. We’ve just got to work harder to make her understand what she’s got to do.”

Melanie: A totally admirable character. I definitely would not have survived either, and with all that crap her peers and family gave her? I cannot imagine how physically and emotionally terrifying that would be--the misogyny was just horrid.

“I look forward to many more talks like this before you quit the Corps and go running back home to Daddy… Why don’t you give up, McKenna?”

Jaz: Right? Everybody was so sexist. I didn't know that way of thinking still existed in such an advanced place. It was disheartening to see. I mean I thought the DMA and Sam's family would be proud that a female was willing to give up so much to serve her country? I guess it's a different mindset for them... I'm glad she managed to find friends in unsuspecting places though!

Melanie: Exactly, and instead, they think that having a girl is a burden because they think that girls will only bring them down and that they aren't as good as boys. Ugh.

“No one expects you to make it. No one wants you to make it. You don’t belong here, McKenna. Females don’t belong here”

Jaz: I think that Sam proved she was as good as, if not better than, many of the male recruits!

Melanie: She totally kicked all their asses. What are your thoughts on the romance?

Jaz: OHMYGOD. That romance. Ughhhh *bites lips* Mel, 3 words: Drill Sergeant Stamm

That is all.


“He leans in, his face a breath away from mine.”

Melanie: Haha! Yes he is pretty swoony. But I was so confused at first because she had a 'sort of' romance in the first half with a totally different guy when in the synopsis it said that Sam falls for her drill sergeant.

Jaz: Oh yeah.... I know what you mean. But I was rooting for her and Drill from the beginning. Although the other guy was very sweet and supportive.

To an extent anyway…

Melanie: Oh yes to an extent. The part where Drill brings the pie to her room was so adorable!

Jaz: Yeh during Thanksgving. It was so sweet. And all the little things he did for her too. The way Drill treated everybody fairly, how he saw her potential and wasn't there to see her fail, like so many others. I absolutely loved his belief in her. I think he actually risked a lot for her?

Melanie: Yes he did. He was so supportive of her and he treated her with respect. I also loved how it didn't overtake the plot.

Jaz: Agreed! The best part was that the romance was always in the background and never overtook the story. And that made the romance so much more... Worth it? The tiny snippets and moments we managed to glean were made the more precious and heart achingly sweet. That plot though... I didn't know things could get so serious.

Melanie: It was a pretty intense plot line and kept me engaged the entire time. I've never read anything to do with military school before and now I'm really interested in reading more books centered around it.

Jaz: Same! Assuming they're all written this well. I loved the way this was intense from the very beginning. Henley just got right into it and kept building up. There was a skill in having the story never falter. From the Smoke Shows and the challenges, and how the plot darkened as it went along…

“I nearly killed her the other night. Shit, I’ve seen guys crumble with smoke shows half as bad.”

Melanie: I don't think there was a moment in this book where I was bored. There were so many things happening and I loved how every little detail was included and written with such detail.

Jaz: And how we got everything the blurb said and more! I mean it mentioned a decades-old society intent on getting Sam out but I had no idea just how full-blown things could get. Serious business there Mel.

Melanie: For once the synopsis doesn't lie! I absolutely hate it when it does, just disappoints me so much.

Jaz: I was actually quite scared as I was reading. So mysterious and enthralling. There was so much suspense!

Melanie: Yeah, I felt every emotion in this book.

Jaz: And there were so many of them. Fear for Sam, intrigue at what the hell was going on, worry at what the heck Sam's friends were doing.... And a lot of swoon for Drill.

Melanie: And sadness when you realise that there's no more pages left in the book.

Jaz: But there has to be a sequel. There HAS to be. Especially the way it ended.

Melanie: Oh yes absolutely. Pretty much everyone who has read it has mentioned that they want a sequel. So it simply just has to happen. It needs to happen.

Jaz: It totally does. Were you also surprised at how well Rites was written? I couldn't tell this was a debut novel! I mean, Henley's writing was so sophisticated and she had so much control of her characters, making them unique and able to develop the plot so well.

Melanie: The author has some serious talent. I will definitely try anything by her so she better keep on writing! Her characters were three-dimensional and everything felt so real. Was there anything in here that you disliked?

Jaz: I think the ending... It was just left hanging and I wanted a bit more I guess. You?

Melanie: Yeah, I definitely agree on that. I also felt the romance with the other dude at the start was a bit unnecessary.

Jaz: Oh yeah true. But it seemed he did genuinely like her... Just a bit random though.

Oh and I liked how it dealt with family issues and what it means to have your family in the military. I mean Sam entered the academy as a dare from her late brother. And in a way I think it's HER coping mechanism? It seems her family all dealt with Amos' death in different ways…

Melanie: The family aspect was really intriguing. Yes, in a way, it was her way of coping with her brother's death.

Yep. Overall, Rites was an outstanding read. I haven't ever read anything like this and the characters, romance, plot and originality were all close to perfection. Now if we got a sequel, I'd be VERY pleased.

Jaz: Completely agree. I NEED MORE STAMM!

“Let’s finish this.”


And because Joy sent me an extra set of signed postcards + bookmark I have 1 set to giveaway! This giveaway is AUSTRALIA only. Winner must reply within 48h or a new one will be picked

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Lovely review girls! How does this joint review thing even work? With my sister it's easy because we're next to each other, but I have no clue how others do it.

    I love the setting of military school. That's so unique and awesome. I'd love to read this book sometime ;)

    1. Mel and I do this through gChat! She was pasting what we wrote onto a Google doc to edit (: it worked out quite nicely

  2. I haven't had the chance to read this yet, but it's high up on my TBR. Thank you so much for the giveaway!
    Have a great week! :)

  3. This book looks fantastic! I hadn't heard very many things about it, but ever since it's release, I've read so many stellar things about it, which has made me even more interested in picking up a copy. ^_^ Great review/discussion.