Review: Going Under by S. Walden (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Posted August 23rd, 2013 in Blog Tour, book review, Giveaway / 17 comments

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by S. Walden

Publisher: Penny Press (March 2013)
Genre: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Format: eBook (344 pages)
Source: Free book from author for honest review
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)

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.)

At A Glance
The storyline of this book made me so uncomfortable but I really did love this book.  

The Good
To tell you the truth, I read the last 20 percent of Going Under first. I knew about The Scene and I had to get it out of the way. I had know things ended okay after the incident so I could enjoy the book. I know it goes against every book nerd rule, but I would not be able to enjoy this book without some closure. The subject of this book scares the crap out of me. I really didn’t want to read Going Under for the longest time, but so many people seemed to love it. But I literally read this book the last minute because I couldn’t bring myself to read it, I kept putting it off. And even after I knew how it all worked out, I still was stressed the whole time I read. My reaction is pretty strong, and I bet most of you won’t be so dramatic about it 🙂 but I thought it was important for you guys to know the background of my book experience.

For a effed up storyline, Walden does a great job of pulling us in and making us care about her characters. They were all extremely flawed, especially Brooke. She did some things I could never forgive her for if I was her friend, but that’s what fueled the story. Brooke knew she messed up and she wanted to make amends. She was far from perfect, but you felt for her all the same. Ryan started out a big question mark, but be became such a beautiful person. He had heart, he had depth. It was obvious he had his secrets, but it was difficult to not fall in love with him. Then we found out Ryan’s secret and I was devastated. I just couldn’t forgive him, same as Brooke. But the more people talked to Brooke about forgiveness, the more I understood Ryan’s position and forgave him, even if I didn’t agree with what he did. In the end, Ryan is a great person and Brooke is lucky to have him.

The bad guys were so disgusting they made my skin crawl. I literally just got the chills thinking about them. Walden should be given a round of applause with a slow clap intro for creating such horrible human beings who often seemed charming and authentic. The predator with a smile is scarcer than the one with a sneer.

Walden also brought up a lot of issues the world faces every day: suicide, depression, sex, rape, drugs. I love the different views we got on these subjects. The different perspectives from victims, predictors, bystanders, and loved ones felt so authentic.

Going Under is a HEAVY book. Very little fluff, and a small but great romance. The dark storyline still makes me shiver. I couldn’t imagine anyone doing what Brooke did. Was it right? Who knows. This book is not about good decisions, it’s about forgiveness, revenge, and healing. A great combination.

The Bad
Brooke was just plain stupid. She’s around rapists who want to harm her and she chills with them? Goes to parties with them? Accepts open drinks from them? WHY??? You know they are bad news. Wouldn’t you want to be cautious? Brooke’s decision making was atrocious.

The ending was a little odd to me. It was good, but it didn’t really flow with the rest of the book. It’s hard to explain. I just think things could have been wrapped up in a more cohesive way.

The Snuggly
I loved Ryan and Brooke together. Ryan was such a sweetheart. They had a rough and awkward beginning, but they ended up fitting perfectly together. I love how Ryan took his time, wanted to wait to have sex, and how obsessed he was with giving Brooke pleasure above all else. He’s like the perfect boyfriend. Not a perfect person though, he has his flaws and screw ups, but he’s still a top notch boyfriend.

The sex was HOT. So freaking jealous of Brooke. She gets Ryan all to herself. No fair. Be ready for steamy sex scenes but still new adult overall. OMG, that video game scene. I am still blushing.

You must be prepared for a rape scene. It’s a horrible rape scene that will make you sick, but Walden handles it well. She just shows enough for use to get the idea but not too much.

Final Thoughts
I am happy I read Going Under. I had my problems with it, but it was so worth the read. Sometimes you have to read those uncomfortable subject matters to make you feel something strong. And boy did I. I felt every emotion under the rainbow. But be cautious when going into this book. Make sure you can handle what Going Under dishes out. Very recommended.

“It was decided. I was going to let Ryan Foster do me. I had no idea when it would happen, but it was inevitable. If he kept being this cute, it was inevitable.”  

“Ryan chuckled. “You’re going to be my trouble this year, aren’t you?” he asked softly. Hell yeah I was.”  

“It’s always described as melting, and I finally understood why. I thought my body was turning to liquid. I could feel my bones giving way, threatening to dissolve and leave me one big puddle of goo.”  

“I realized I needed to look at evil in an entirely new light. Most bad guys weren’t running around with eyes bugged out. Most bad guys didn’t come across freaky and frightening…Most bad guys were normal, everyday guys moving through life like anyone else… They were hard to spot and that’s what made them so good at being bad… They could get away with it, and they knew it.”  

“The idea of letting him have me. Seduce him without him knowing, give him the perfect opportunity to take advantage of me, then make him pay for it afterwards. Could I actually go through with it, though? Could I give up my body as a sacrifice to seek vengeance? Was I strong enough? Crazy enough?”

Author Bio
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
swaldenauthor@hotmail.comand follow her blog at where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects. Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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17 Responses to “Review: Going Under by S. Walden (Blog Tour & Giveaway)”

  1. Ashley

    Lol I can’t believe you read the end first! I mean I get why you did, but I’m not sure I could ever do that!

    Awesome review though. I’m really glad you ended up reading this book because I thought it was phenomenal! As you said, Walden tackled the subject matter brilliantly. I can’t believe someone could pull this off! That’s pretty cool.

    I’d be curious to see what you think of her newest book, Good. I was upset because I couldn’t really connect with it the way I did with this one.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I know, I know, I’m a horrible book nerd *hangs head in shame* But I couldn’t help it.

      I didn’t even know she has another book out. Gotta look it up now.

  2. Elisa

    I would probably want to read the end first too! Great review. Just reading it made me a little stressed out with the subject matter.
    The swim team guys in my school were the nice and geeky but hot bodied math guys so I have a hard time wrapping my head around them being so bad, but you can find them anywhere…

  3. Giselle

    Sounds like such a unique read, though! Controversial for sure, but I think I’d like it mostly bc it would fascinate me to read all of this haha. I’m glad you liked it, Jennifer! The romance sounds like what I love to see in this genre and Ryan sounds yummy! >.<

    I’m twitching at you reading the end of the book first haha. That’s a terrible habit, Jennifer! 😛 My friend always does that and I keep scolding her lol

  4. kimbacaffeinate

    Why are girls like this so stupid? I cannot believe you read the end first, but I totally get it, the fact that the author did such a good job of fleshing them out has me curious.

  5. Jaclyn Canada

    I love that you read the end first to find out. I would completely do the same thing in this situation. I don’t mind reading rape scenes, but they ABSOLUTELY have to get what’s coming to them, the scene has to be handled well, and we can’t be taken back to it over and over in graphic detail to dwell on it as the reader. I really like how Briggs handled it in the Mercy Thompson series…something like that. Did you ever read Pierced that I DNF’d? Love your review of this. Sounds graphic and like she makes some very poor decisions but a great and emotional read overall. Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I agree, Briggs handled it the best I have ever seen. However, there is more detail in this rape scene so beware.

      I have Pierced to read still. My review requests are falling a little behind right now. Why?

    • Jaclyn Canada

      My reasons for DNFing that one are because of being taken back to the sexual assaults and emotionally I couldn’t handle it. I was wondering if you fared better than me on that one. I think overall you do handle them much better than me so I’ll see what you think if you get to it.

  6. Neyra

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of this one before, but Ian intrigued. I love dark subject books to get away from the occasional fluff and experience a dose of reality. Great review Jennifer, I’m looking forward to this (:

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