♦Going Under by S. Walden♦
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.
(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence. Please take the content warning seriously.)
I had no business getting all dolled up for Ryan. I was supposed to be focused on Cal, but somehow he became just some guy in the background, out of focus and unimportant in my life. I thought I heard Beth screaming from a far off place, asking me what the hell I was doing, but I ignored her. She couldn’t control my life. I’d get to Cal when I got to him. She had to understand that.
I studied myself in the full-length mirror. I’d never looked prettier for work. I thought I looked like a Barbie doll, my hair pulled up high on my head in a ponytail, locks curled and tumbling in flirty waves from the elastic band. I pumped up the eye factor with heavy mascara. I wanted to go for an Edie Sedgwick look—all ‘60s glam. I even ironed my uniform, a typical diner waitress outfit. Blue shirtdress that hit just above my knees. I slipped on my Keds and grabbed my apron.
I planned to knock his socks off.
. . . I approached him after counting to twenty. I didn’t want to seem too eager.
“Hi,” I said. I felt bright and bubbly and on top of the world.
I placed my hand on my hip and popped it out. “Come here often?” I couldn’t resist.
“Once. The waitress was cute, but she’s got nothing on you,” Ryan said.
Damn right she doesn’t. I went Edie Sedgwick for you, buddy.
“God, you look gorgeous,” he said.
Oh, those heart flutters. I wanted to feel those heart flutters forever.
“I’m in an ugly uniform,” I said, looking down at my outfit. I smoothed my apron on my stomach.
“Not ugly at all. Sexy more like.”
I blushed, and this time he saw. I couldn’t conceal it under the glare of the restaurant lights.
“Hungry?” I asked, and pulled out my order pad.
“What would you recommend?”
“Honestly? I’ve only eaten the turkey sandwich. It was all right,” I confessed.
“Don’t you get to eat for free?” Ryan asked.
“Are you kidding? A little bit of a discount, sure, but nothing for free,” I said. “And anyway, I’m so tired after work, I don’t want to stick around and eat. I want to go home.”
“I can understand that,” he said. He looked over the menu. “Well, I guess I’ll try this steak sandwich.”
“A man who eats manly meat,” I said. “I like it.”
“Manly meat, huh?” he asked, chuckling.
“Sure. Didn’t you know steak was the manliest of meats?”
“Making a note of it,” Ryan said.
I nodded. “And to drink?”
“A Cherry Coke,” he said.
“Now that’s a little girly, but I’ll let it slide.”
“Well, I really ordered it for you,” Ryan said. “See, I thought you could bring it over here along with two straws. You could sit across from me, and we could drink it together.”
Before you read this book I strongly encourage you to read the synopsis and disclaimers. This book isn’t for everyone as it delves into some very serious situations and subject matter.
Going Under is very intense. Keep that in mind and also keep that mind of yours open. There is a certain beauty to this story even within the ugliness that surrounds it. I think almost anyone that reads Going Under can see that.
With that said, it needs to be known that…I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.
I loved everything about it. I even loved the parts that I hated and felt sick after reading. S. Walden writes impeccably. She writes about topics that other authors probably wouldn’t even consider touching and she does it in a way that I can only describe as flawless.
We first meet Brooke and we learn that she is in the middle of getting ready to go to her best friends funeral. She isn’t the typical “woe is me, my best friend just died” type of teenager. There is something bubbling under the surface of Brooke and we soon discover what that is…guilt. Brooke knows the reason (or assumed reason) why Beth did what she did. And with that on top of some secrets of her own, Brooke sets out on a mission…to seek revenge on those that caused her best friend Beth so much pain. One boy in particular…Cal. Brooke just isn’t sure what she is getting herself into.
“Sometimes I wondered at the size of my heart, if I even had one at all.” ~Brooke
After transferring to the school that Beth attended, Brooke discovers that the boys swim team, captained by none other than Cal himself, are the creators of the ‘Fantasy Slut League’. Each boy gets points for getting so far with certain girls that are on the list. Pretty disgusting, right? Oh, you have no clue, yet.
Brooke stumbles upon an extremely good-looking yet quiet boy named Ryan. Ryan is….WOW. Brooke finds herself becoming more and more intrigued by him. With not being quite sure how to approach Ryan and show any interest with him while simultaneously trying to carry out her secret plan, Brooke decides to leave him alone and focus on her main goal. The problem is, Ryan lives 6 houses down from the house Brooke just moved into with her father.
It goes without saying that Brooke and Ryan are inevitably going to cross paths. And let me tell you…when they do it is nothing but amazing. The connection these two share is beyond words. There is a scene in particular that had my jaw sitting on the floor. I won’t ruin it but I will tell you this: Call of Duty, wandering hands, and one distracted Brooke. Yep, you’re welcome. HOT HOT HOT!!!
Now getting back to the nitty gritty here. Brooke’s mission is well under way and she has discovered enough information to hopefully ruin Cal and his little minions. The problem is, these boys aren’t dumb. Now I won’t give anything way here because that’s not what I do and especially because this is where the story gets VERY VERY deep and intense.
This is the part in the story where I broke down and cried, got mad, and actually had to set my kindle down and walk away more than once. There is no other way to describe this than emotionally and mentally wrecking.
My emotions were all over the place while reading Going Under. I love when a book does this to me. It means that the author is damn good at what she does if she can provoke emotions in me that mimic the emotions of her character. Everything Brooke felt, I felt. I was in awe of her and scared for her at the same time. She isn’t the weak character that you think she would be. She has secrets of her own that you discover through flashbacks. However, I couldn’t help but wonder, considering the shit she has done and has also been dealt, if she would crumble and not follow through with her mission. She knew it would be the easier way out, but Brooke wasn’t wanting easy. She wanted closure and she wanted revenge. Let me just tell you, Brooke is one bad ass chick.
When all was said and done with this book I did have a smile on my face and a very happy heart. I just felt like I had been through one hell of an emotional train wreck. Everything I wanted for Brooke, including Ryan, was so up in the air throughout the entire book. And with what Brooke discovers about Ryan toward the end, I couldn’t help but think “damn it, this is NOT good”. But you have to understand never to underestimate love and the strength is has to bring people together again.
Again, I just LOVED this book. From the story, to the heartache, to the controversial issues, to the amazing characters all the way to the ending…it was just simply amazing. This book will stick with me for a very long time and I will forever be a fan of S. Walden. She is one hell of a writer and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.
“…But first, let me say how much I love you, Brooke. I told you a long time ago in a bad place when I was a bad person. I’m not there anymore, and I’m not that boy, but my love for you has never changed. I love you. I’ll always love you. There simply isn’t anyone else.” ~Ryan
♦About the Author♦
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.