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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
*I received a free ARC of Rites of Passage from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*
Rites of Passage is a creepy read, with undertones of The Lord of the Flies.
Rites of Passage really shows how much struggle it can be for a woman to be in the army, and even more so because Sam enters a high-school that’s a preparation for the army later, and most of her superior officers are under the age of twenty, and frankly quite upset about the fact that women are now accepted into this prestigious school that used to be an all-men place. It doesn’t matter to anyone that Sam may have all the necessary skills to become a great soldier, that she is physically and psychologically strong, or that she comes from a long line of army officers herself.
In some ways, it was really creepy to see how far some of the guys were willing to go to protect what they saw as their private playground, and with a secret society on campus, that didn’t make anything easy for Sam or her fellow female recruits. The only one of her superiors who seems to be on her side is Drill-sergeant Stamm, but he can only do so much to keep her and the other women safe. Rites of Passage also shows that there isn’t really that much fellowship among the women, either. As they are there for different reasons, and Sam is the one who really wants to succeed and continue in the army.
There are several violent scenes, mostly aimed at Sam, and even those recruits who were on her side at the beginning start letting her down after being punished alongside her. And this is where my Lord of the Flies vibes came from. Kids in charge of an environment that deals with war, and where they also have the skills to go through with their threats. Nobody feels safe after a while, and I felt just as unsure as Sam as to just whom could be trusted, and who couldn’t. With the added excitement of some very secretive e-mails Sam starts receiving, making her realize that someone on the outside might be looking out for her, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading, and Sam was an amazing character to follow.
Written in first person point of view from Sam’s perspective, and in present tense, Rites of Passage worked very well for me, especially because I as a reader discovered things at the same time Sam did. And in several instances, I had to ask myself if it was really this hard for a woman to enter a high profile academy for the army, and I’m betting the answer is yes.
Jonathan is the cadet colonel. You can’t be all female around him. As if being female is somehow a sickness Mom and I can get over.
The cadre come, one after another. They’re the cadets who will train me, the people who will make me part of a unit with my other platoon members – sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds. And each and every one of them tells me to leave.
We talk for a few more minutes, but my mind spins with words I can’t believe my father ever said to anyone. Hard-ass Lieutenant Colonel McKenna being inspirational? Motivational? Philosophical, even? I won’t believe it. Because if he was ever that way, why couldn’t he be that way with me?