Going Under by S. Walden

Going UnderGoing Under by S. Walden
Published by: Penny Press on March 19, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 344
Source: Blog Tour
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★★★

Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend's death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

Before reading this review or considering reading the book, take the content warning seriously. This book is heavy. It deals with rape, depression, plotting to be raped, consensual sex, and other illegal activities (underage drinking/drug use). Going Under is an incredible and fabulous book, but you do have to be able to handle these intense and heavy topics in order to enjoy it.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can say that Going Under completely blew my mind! Seriously. I hardly even know where to begin. Brooke is such an incredibly complex character; she is the perfect protagonist for this story. Her best friend committed suicide and Brooke is completely overwhelmed with guilt. So, she plots to avenge her friend (and help rid herself of guilt) by taking down the boys’ sex club and exposing them for the sexual predators that they are.

Stop thinking like a bitch and start thinking like an assassin!

On the one hand, I LOVED Brooke’s goal. I loved the revenge, the ‘crusade’, the hunt for justice—all of it. I was totally cheering her on. But on the other hand, Brooke was going to infiltrate the league, and that means playing little miss goody goody to try to trap the guys into raping her. She was essentially going to sacrifice herself and become a rape victim for the sole purpose of taking the guys down. That is totally and completely fucked up. What you have to understand is that Brooke is actually a little insane, and that’s one of the things that made the book so interesting. She is so wracked with guilt that you can actually see her downward spiral. Her nightmares and paranoia grow throughout the book and you can see the progression; it’s absolutely fascinating. But it also made the book conflicting.

Going Under by S. Walden - When you're scared of the world, you want to escape it

Could Beth forgive me if I chose to move on instead of getting revenge?

I felt like a bad person for loving Brooke’s mission to take down the boys, because I felt like I was encouraging her to willingly get raped. I kind of felt as insane as Brooke, and for that reason, I really connected with her on a deeper level.

I saw for the first time how messed up I was. How the guilt had twisted me into a monster and a victim.

One of my favourite parts about the book totally snuck up on me: there is a hacking/gamer element. There’s this one scene that blew my mind.. let’s just say it involved video games and third base. At the same time. Ummm… every gamer girl’s dream? Seriously, the scene was so hot and erotic that it blew my mind to bits and pieces. And what made it hotter was the fact that I was reading on the sofa and my boyfriend was actually playing a video game. It made me want to go act out the scene.. LMAO.

But seriously, the romance in this book was great. It actually didn’t dominate the book; the main focus was always on the plot for revenge and Brooke trying to come to terms with her best friend’s death. But the romance was nicely nestled in on the side and was a great accent to the story. There were some incredibly sweet and tender moments (and hot ones too). Sometimes Brooke even reminded me of myself. When she was around the love interest (Ryan) she was always a bit weird and wacky. When around him it’s like she just removed her ‘filter’. She didn’t think before speaking or acting and that made her extremely goofy and a bit klutzy at times. It’s kind of hard to explain but it was so me!

I breathed it in like oxygen, a faint sweetness that made me want to lick him. That shocked me. I wanted to lick his neck. I couldn’t stop myself. I slipped my tongue out ever so slightly—just the tip—and tasted him.

But overall, Going Under is extremely powerful and emotional. Brooke is not a perfect character, and through a series of flashbacks we learn just how imperfect she is. But that’s what made her great. She’s trying to atone for her sins and avenge her best friend. Besides, who wants a perfect main character? Imperfections rock. This book is heavy, intense, heartbreaking, and had me crying and laughing when I didn’t expect to. The sheer amount of intensity and unique (but devastating) plot has earned this book a spot in my all time favourites! Going Under is a story that will really make an impact on you, and that’s why I’m confident it will stay with me for a long time! If you think you can handle the heavy issues that this book investigates, then I highly recommend it!

The Verdict


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  1. Ok.. so.. wow!!! I have totally dismissed this book due to the cover which I do not like very much… But.. reading your review, considering how similar our tastes are, I think I might need to read this book. I’m not afraid of heavy topics so I’m really looking forward reading it now!

    DannyBookworm recently posted: Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
  2. I don’t think I would have given this book more than a passing glance and I’m ashamed to admit that. But that’s the market, no? This sounds cool and intense. It’s a lot like The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher meets Sanctum, but different in just the way it needs to be. I’m drawn to these books with an overwhelming sense of guilt. Sounds awesome… and insane!

    Jessie Marie recently posted: Waiting on WWW Wednesday | 20 March 2013
  3. Okay you’ve definitely intrigued me, a girl willingly willing to get raped to avenge the death of her best friend? Ya it sounds PRETTY MESSED UP! But, well this may be a sign of how completely messed up I am, but I really have to read it now!
    Great Review Ashley!

  4. I have been seeing this cover all over the place and I always stare at it, it’s so weird! I think I would totally love this, it sounds so effed up. I was already so curious about this one just because of the cover but your review has officially sold me. WANT!

    Jenni @ Alluring Reads recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (56)
  5. I read your review of this on Goodreads first because I was deciding on whether to be on the blog tour. Even though you loved it and it does sound intriguing. The theme and content sounded like a little too much for me right now. I don’t want to read about anything sad or unjust. I have to be in the mood for something like that. But happy to hear it was good.

    1. Yeah I totally get that. It definitely requires a certain interest and frame of mind.

  6. Finished reading minutes ago…
    I loved this book!
    It was heartbreaking, sad, heavy and has such a strong theme!
    I agree with your review and what you’ve said about Brooke.
    I’ve cried at one scene with her that was so brutal, but I was glad at how things ended for those animals (the kind of people who does such things cannot be called as human)!
    Going Under is just like you said “extremely powerful and emotional”.
    Great book!

    Andresa Dias recently posted: Promoção NC: Quem ganha é você!

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