First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Julia Dahl, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Having never read anything by Julia Dahl, I was eager to give this standalone novel a try. Dahl writes in a gritty and fast-paced fashion, perfect for those who love a story that never gives the reader time to enter a lull. When Claudia Castro realises that she’s been raped, it is a mix of embarrassment and determination that fuels her to move forward. With the help of an unlikely dorm mate, Claudia soon realises that she’s been a target of revenge porn, as a video of the act surfaces. Now, she’s determined to get her own retribution and make a statement that she is not to be treated so poorly. With a little help, she’s able to put the wheels in motion to show that she is stronger than any boy who thinks she can be used for their own pleasure! A great piece that has me eager to see what else Julia Dahl and penned!
When Claudia Castro woke in her dorm room, she knew something was the matter. The night before had been a haze, but the burning sensation between her legs was indicative of something, and she could not remember consenting. With the place almost empty because of Spring Break, Claudia is left to stew, but comes across Trevor, who seems eager to help however he can.
While Claudia comes from a family with money, Trevor has lived the simple life in Ohio before making his way to New York City. Together, the unlikely pair connect, though never romantically, as they maneuver their way through Claudia’s rape and how to handle it. Having missed her sister giving birth, Claudia knows that she will have to tell her family one thing, but she has yet to cobble together a story that will fit the bill.
When Trevor receives an anonymous text with a video of the rape, he’s enraged. It’s two boys that Claudia knew from her time at NYU, more trouble than they are worth. While they are content to say that it’s ‘just Claudia being her slutty self’, Trevor takes offence and lets Claudia convince him that they need to act. With money burning in her pocket, Claudia has a plan, but it will take time and precision to work.
As Claudia and Trevor work to exact their own form of revenge, they are fulled by the fact that this was no simple act of young people goofing off. It’s time to show that the victim need not wait for the legal process to run its course. The missing hours may still be blurry, but Claudia intends to make those who participated feel her wrath. A jolting story that sped along at a wonderful pace.
The premise of the book left me curious and yet slightly unnerved, though I was intrigued to see how Julia Dahl might handle it. Having written a few thrillers before, I knew Dahl would jump headlong into things and she did well to capture my attention from the outset. This is a story that is sure to keep the reader flipping pages, if only to see how everyone plays a part in the larger whole and what sort of revenge can be expected.
Dahl uses a wonderful collection of characters, depicted well throughout the narrative. Contrasting the rich with the more ‘grounded’ provided the reader with great comparisons as to the tools available for retribution. Backstories and development occurred in equal measure throughout, keeping the reader attentive so as not to miss anything being offered. The flippant nature of some who play a role in the story made it all the more believable, especially when the narrative explores so many perspectives. That said, Claudia and Trevor surely steal the show as strong and multi-faceted protagonists.
Dahl uses her skills to explore the themes effectively throughout the narrative. Perhaps her greatest feat in a story of this type is to use varying narrative perspectives, bringing many of her characters into the central role and telling events from their own experiences. This helps quicken the pace of the plot and keeps the reader aware of all that is going on throughout the development of events. Chapters flowed freely, usually quick and to the point, leaving the reader to desire more as the story unfolds. I was captivated with it throughout, even if the subject matter got dark or sometimes quite violent. Told over a few weeks, the plot never lost its intensity or left the reader feeling less than satisfied with the end result, which comes in the final pages of this well-paced novel. I am eager to explore more of Julia Dahl’s work before too long.
Kudos, Madam Dahl, for a great introduction to your writing. I am definitely going to explore some of your other writing to see if it is just as captivating.
Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons