Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning InstinctDrowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Published by: Lerner Publishing Group on February 1, 2012
Genre: Abuse, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★★½

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord's first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.

And there are stories where it's hard to be sure who's a prince and who's a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Holy crap, Drowning Instinct was AMAZING! It was so intense and wrong and heartbreaking all in one. This book definitely would have been great to listen to as an audiobook; I kind of regret that I didn’t. Basically, the story starts off with Jenna being brought to the hospital soaking wet, then a detective hands her a tape recorder and encourages her to tell her tale. So the whole story is what she says into the tape recorder, which is why I think it would be AMAZING on audio! Jenna tells us (or the detective—Bob) all about her experience with her dysfunctional family, the abuse she suffered, and how she dealt with it (by ‘cutting’, and among other things). Everything leads up to her questionable relationship with an older man (her teacher).

This book has so many different layers and so many different sides to it. We have Jenna’s relationship with her parents, her relationship with her brother, her relationship with her peers at school, her relationship with her teacher, and her relationship with herself. All of it builds up into one giant mess that finally explains Jenna’s past, her secrets, and the source of all her pain. Jenna is a brilliant narrator with a unique and honest voice. You will believe that the story she tells is real. She’s extremely convincing and captivating, and will make you want to keep reading no matter what!

But this is the truth: I’m a liar.

I am lucky, a liar, a good girl, a princess, a thief—and a killer.

Honestly, I barely even know what to say about this book. It’s one of those stories you just can’t really comment on; you have to feel it—and then it will overpower you and own you. Plus, all the best bits unfold at the end. It will hit you like a freight train and leave you gasping for air. I love how the lines are so blurred in Drowning Instinct. The blurb is frighteningly accurate when it says “And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after.” There is no certainty in this book. It’s all questionable, and it’s all grey.

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick - Take down the walls

My one complaint about this book is the romance. Even though they’re pretty different, I can’t help but compare this book to Captive in the Dark, because they’re both about inappropriate relationships and loving someone you shouldn’t. In Captive in the Dark, Olivia falls in love with Caleb. Their relationship is wrong on so many levels, but somehow I fell for it. I loved it and was disgusted by it with every fiber of my being. That didn’t quite happen to me in Drowning Instinct. I did come to understand Jenna’s relationship with her teacher, but it didn’t completely win me over. I think I always viewed it more as a strong friendship that slightly bordered on inappropriate, rather than a passionate, soul-shaking romance. I didn’t really see the love between them as much as I would have liked. Maybe it’s because they kiss and have sex, but we don’t read about any of it. Jenna tells us that it happened, but we don’t actually see the experience for ourselves. Maybe that’s why I constantly only saw friendship, rather than two lovers.

“It’s the torture of not knowing that fuels a romance and that kind of pain is sweet, so sweet.”
Drowning Instinct, Page 178

When I finished reading Drowning Instinct I froze. It’s like I just needed a minute to sit and absorb everything I just read. The last 50 pages or so are truly a whirlwind of uncovering lies, deceit, discovering truths, being wrong, being right.. and all the information just floods in. It’s insane, it’s intense, and it’s all kinds of awesome. I will admit, the darker side of me was hoping for a slightly different ending. Basically, near the end of the book we’re kind of shown two possible endings: a slightly darker and more insanely terrifying ending, and a little brighter ending. I was hoping for the darker one. It was just so gross and crazy and creepy that I couldn’t help but beg for it!

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who can handle an intense, disturbing book. I literally read Drowning Instinct in one sitting, and I nearly pitched a raging fit when my reading was interrupted during the climax of the book. Overall, this is a brilliant read that will leave you thinking and questioning. It will laugh at all the normality in your life and poke and prod at your weaknesses.

There’s blood-pain, there’s knife-pain. There’s bang-your-funny-bone-pain.
And then there is the pain of fire, molten and alive: the swirl of flames streaming over rotten wood and naked flesh. That pain moves when you move; it mutters between every breath; it spikes your ears; it rips. You think pain can’t be any more horrible than that.
Until you discover that the well is bottomless. There’s always more. A different kind of pain, maybe, but more and much, much worse.
Drowning Instinct, Page 8

The Verdict


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    1. Thank you!! This book is absolutely insane. It will blow your mind!! 😀 I can’t wait to see what you think of it!

  1. OMG right? I freaking loved this book it blew my mind! I’m so excited when I see others raving about it. I had the exact same reaction when I finished it too. I felt like I had no idea wtf just happened, and needed time to process it all!! Totally awesome review, love!!

    1. OMG GISELLE! I read your review of Drowning Instinct and FREAKING LOVED IT!! I think that’s one of the reasons I decided to read the book. I’m so glad you loved it too and I’m so glad I read it! Pure epic awesomeness!

  2. I definitely want to read this book. The synopsis alone makes this sound like an unforgettable read! And 4.5 stars!! Girl, I need to get this book in my hands like now! You`re review has made me want it even more! There`s nothing worse than when someone interrupts you during a pivotal, climactic moment! Argh!

    Chapter by Chapter recently posted: The Year In Review (2012) with G!veaway
    1. I really think you will LOVE this book! And OMG yes I hate it when people interrupt me. And non-readers just don’t understand how big of a deal it is!!

    1. LOL!! The relationship is definitely wrong but honestly, the relationship wasn’t my favourite part of the book. It is definitely a depressing book, but that’s kind of why I enjoyed it in some weird, morbid way. It’s really just about a girl with a terribly sad past and a bit of a messed up family.


    I’ve heard SUCH awesome things about Isla’s Ashes and Shadows, and although I’ve never read them, I should definitely think about picking up this one instead because it looks EPIC. And I’m so glad it’s one of those powerful stories where you can’t even describe it right because it’s just THAT awesome and epic! I’m not sure how I feel about dark books, but this definitely sounds like a really intense read!

    Awesome review Ashley!! <3 I'm so glad you loved this one!

    Eileen recently posted: Hooked by Liz Fichera
    1. This is definitely a dark book but OMG IT’S SOOOOO GOOD!!! You should totally give it a try!! And I’ve heard amazing things about Ashes and Shadows but I haven’t read them.. I should totally do that.

    1. I think you would love this one Keertana! At least I hope so. 😉 I can’t wait to see what you think!

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