Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of PassageRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Expected publication: September 9th 2014 by Harper Teen

Source: Received for review/eARC

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Military School

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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.

My Review.

This book might possibly be my favourite of 2014, and that’s saying a lot. Yes, my fellow book nerds, this book was hella good. I admit that I was one of those few who were hesitant about checking this book out, and look what happened in the end – I got a mighty kick in the bum. And this is a debut for crying out loud. If there’s one YA debut you need to set your sights upon, then look no further.

I’m just going to put this out there in case the synopsis doesn’t work for you: Rites of Passage is basically the offspring of Divergent and Cadet Kelly. I’ll give you a few minutes to digest that.

Sam McKenna is synonymous for kickass. I love strong and determined characters especially when they’re put in an environment of superiority, and in Sam’s case, military school full of misogynist men. Never have I wanted to shout at a fictional character before. I was so rooting for her since the beginning. And she accomplished all of those laborious tests/challenges/punishments given to her without uttering a single complaint.


I mentioned earlier that this was like Divergent, so there’s got to be a brooding love interest somewhere around here. The answer is: yes, but we don’t get to see much of him until the latter part of the novel. He also has a cool name. Drill. Kind of like Four. But it’s a power tool this time. And character-wise, a lot like Four too – deadly serious with a surprising soft side.

As I was reading this book, I was almost always shocked to find out that I was reading a contemporary meaning set in real-life, and not some fantastical, escapist dystopia or whatever. I was certain there was a rebellion against the government going on around here…anyway. I think it was the writing. Miss Henley’s words are brimming with raw action, she was born to write this kind of stuff.

Rites of Passage left me reeling and breathless. There’s still a lot of loose ends left to be tied, so I’m praying there’s going to be a part two in the works. So the next time you see this lovely in bookstores, go pick it up immediately, shut the doors, and read for your life then pass it on. 

5 stars

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