ARC Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

November 8, 2014 Review 26 ★★★★

ARC Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Pages: 416
Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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 this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


If you guys are looking for a contemporary read with a fierce heroine, look no further. Not only does Rites of Passage tell a great story, it tackles serious issues like sexism very well.

By the time I got around to finally reading this one, I had forgotten most of the details in the synopsis, so a lot of the plot was a pleasant surprise. I was initially hesitant about this society that was going after her (mentioned in the synopsis) because I felt the story was strong enough without that particular plotline, but I was overall pretty pleased with the book.

All of the characters in Rites of Passage are extremely well written, whether it be the ones that make you just want to rip your hair out in frustration or the ones you just can’t help but swoon over. They all have really unique personalities and I found myself quickly growing attached to Sam and her friends. Sam was my favorite character of all, not only can she hold her own with the men, she even surpasses some of them with her hard work and determination. 


The setting of this book is part of the fun-it takes place at a military school and while this usually wouldn’t be my thing, I absolutely loved it in this. The experience is written vividly and realistically, and I felt like I was there right alongside Sam as she went through it all. (Although I could never do anything like this in real life, I’m way too lazy!) So don’t be afraid of this book just because of the setting, I promise it’s good!

Even though Rites of Passage is no small chapter book, I was really happy it didn’t have any serious pacing issues. I was immediately drawn into Sam’s story, shocked by the hardships she has to endure throughout the book, and I couldn’t wait to see if everything would work out for her in the end.

Speaking of the end, some things weren’t wrapped up as well as I would have likedView Spoiler » but it’s not a deal-breaker.  I’m definitely going to check out Hensley’s next book, The Harder You Fall.

This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
None of these gifs are mine.

Rating Report
Overall: 4

26 Responses to “ARC Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley”

  1. Mishma @ As the page turns

    This sounds like an interesting book.I love contemporary and realistic fiction with a lot character growth and social issues.
    I really want to give this book a chance after reading your review.*Adds book to TBR List*
    Thanks for the new recommendation, Alise:)
    Mishma @ As the page turns recently posted…Do you write DNF reviews?

    • Alise

      It’s pretty rough, yeah. She never lets it get her down though, and it only makes her more determined :)

      Yeah, I hope the ending was wrapped up a bit more in the final version, some things seemed really abrupt.

  2. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    This book turned me into a sobbing mess, which is weird because that doesn’t usually happen to me. I mean, I get emotional, but it takes a lot to make me cry. I agree that it was written realistically. The ending was somewhat of a disappointment, but the rest was just great.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Review: Eyes Deep

    • Alise

      I know what you mean, I was definitely tearing up too. It was so hard to read about all the hardships she goes through. Right? Not sure if the author set it up for a sequel or…?

    • Alise

      The setting wouldn’t ordinary be my cup of tea either but I can assure you it’s better than you expect! I hope you read it sometime :)

      It kind of does, doesn’t it? :P

  3. Joy @ Thoughts By J

    Ugh, sexism! I’m so glad the author dealt with this really well because it’d be a shame to see it butchered. I love that the characters are so well developed and the military environment is something fresh that I’ve never read before. I’m just like you though, I would be too lazy to see myself in the same situation but I’m happy to live through it with Sam :P
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…The Sunday Wrap-Up (#12) – We completed our undergrad degree!

    • Alise

      Yeah I’ve seen that happen but can safely say this book really tackled it well. The setting was really awesome, especially since I was so hesitant towards it at first. LOL, exactly!

  4. A Canadian Girl

    I really enjoyed this one too, Alise, because of Sam and the setting. I’d never survive at military school, but it was nice to pretend that I could while reading this one :) Did you at least get tempted to work out after reading this? I know I did … and then the feeling disappeared once I remembered that exercising is hard work, lol.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

    • Alise

      My thoughts exactly! I wouldn’t have minded as much about that if it hadn’t seemed so abrupt, you know? Same! :)

  5. Kirsty-Marie

    See, exactly, I didn’t think it would be for me because of the setting, I am pretty interested in all of that, but not reading it, but it just worked (possibly because of the characters) but loved it. I WAS NOT IMPRESSED WITH THAT ENDING THOUGH. SERIOUSLY. She gave us hope. BEFORE SHE CRUSHED IT. But, it is realistic, STILL DOESN’T MEAN WE HAVE TO BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. >:(
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Gracefully Grayson

    • Alise

      I know so many people who felt the same about the setting (including myself!) so I really hope more people go out and give it a chance. I knowwww, I really don’t get it, after everything, it ends like that? :c

  6. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    I just read this book, and I seriously love it so much!!!!! It’s so good and wonderful and awesome! I respect Sam and her character so much. She goes through all these troubles and horrible things and comes out on top, fighting the whole way there. Drill is so sweet and adorable and I love him!! I really liked the themes and portrayal of the themes. Such an interesting and wonderful book. Lovely review :)
    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books recently posted…Blog Tour: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engels +Giveaway

    • Alise

      Yay, glad you liked it too! Yes, exactly-she perseveres. I know, they are really great together, I like how he encourages her. Thank you :)

    • Alise

      Same here, I was actually just thinking of this book the other day and thinking about a reread :) It’s really sad that the author hasn’t written anything else though.

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