Age: Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars
Rating: 3 stars
Rosie Thinks: Sam's never been able to turn down a dare. But this dare was the last one given to her before her brother passed away: be one of the first girls to go through Denmark Military Academy. She's from a military family herself, so knows exactly what to expect. What she isn't expecting is the brutal hazing she's put through, and the outright violence towards her for not giving up.
There are quite a few books like these out there - girl joining military school, book then letting down all your expectations and hopes. But, surprisingly, this one didn't! Sam herself truly made this book stand out to me. She's strong, stubborn to a fault, but with an underlying vulnerability that she is determined not to show. At times, she came close to falling into the stereotypical Strong Female Character, but that vulnerable streak I mentioned before prevented that, thankfully! She became an inspiring character - despite all the oftentimes violent opposition to her being at DMA from almost everyone around her, she stood for what she believed in, and I loved that. Sometimes, because of all this opposition, it became a bit of a hard read, but it is definitely worth it to keep going.
I'm gonna be honest here: I know nothing about military schools. Are they even in Australia? Maybe? Maybe not? Regardless, the amount of detail in this was on point and gave me a much more in-depth image than any other TV show or book before it. And it turns out, Hensley herself attended a military school, so she knows what she's talking about! I love how she didn't hold back on any of the brutality, sexism or homophobia that was present in the novel. She gave a no-holds-barred view of military schools that felt incredibly accurate to me (not that that means too much, since I know nothing about them anyway!).
The romance in this book takes a while to come to fruition, but it is lovely and satisfying when it does. It served to further the story, rather than the amazing plot line becoming secondary to it like I see so often. The misogyny in this story made me want to throw my Kindle against the wall, but the ending definitely made my crankiness throughout it worth it!