This is the one with that blurb that made my eyes bug out, prompting me to do crazy flips of excitement. I knew I was about to embark on something very scary… very risqué. A unique and often dark introspective look into a specific and detrimental social issue that is the cause of so much childhood and teen turmoil following so many, too many, right into adulthood. The trauma of childhood bullies and the scars they cause from their incessant abuse.
Maryse: BULLY REVENGE ALERT!!! Ohhh you guys!! Look what else just went love today!! THIS AUTHOR has freaked me out in the past and the blurb of this one is freaking me out RIGHT NOW!!!! Just look!!
“High school seniors Jeremy Stahl and Regan Walters aren’t friends. Not even close. He’s a picked-on, picked-apart loser outcast. She’s a cool kid running with the popular crowd. It’s unlikely they’d ever speak to one another. Too bad he’s madly in love with her. But what does it matter, anyway? He’s got no time for love. Only revenge.
Meticulously detailed in the pages of his battered red notebook is his master plan: April 14, 9:30 A.M., two guns, eighty rounds of ammo, backup knives, eleven victims. He’s finally ready to answer every single taunt, jeer, and flying fist—unwarranted abuse that’s spanned six years of his lonely life. He’s justified. He’s ready. But he never readied himself for her.
Regan finds his journal. She reads it, and when he discovers her intrusion, he has to switch tactics. She’s a liability now.
Amy: …we all know how good her books can be at not shying away from the tough stuff.
Maryse: RIGHT there with you Amy!!!! I think this is the one I gotta start…. Yep.
Jennifer: Holy #%*&!!!!!!!!!! Might have to stop everything I was planning on doing tonight for this one!
Maryse: Right??! This is mine tonight!!!!
Karen: I’ve read so much of the same thing lately that I need to mix things up. This looks really fresh and exciting. I just went ahead and 1-clicked !!.
Julia: Love this author’s writing! Thanks for sharing!
Lee: holy SHiiiiiiiiizcakes!!! eeeeeeeeeeeeeekkk.. you go first Maryse *nod nod* you go first!! #eeeeeeeeeek
Maryse: LOL! I am ON IT!!! *scared happy dance*
Stephanie: Ooo…this looks like our kind of book! What a scary blurb! I want to read this too!!!
Tracie: This looks awesome
Nikki: This sounds awesome. I loved her other books. I feel a group read coming.
Sally: Holyyyyyy this is SO ME! Stephanie you know me so well! wait I know I read this author before, I am drawing a blank on the title though, Somebody help a senile sista out
Maryse: ”Going Under” and “Good” are her two BIG hits although there are probably more…
Sally: Yesss Maryse it was Going Under! I remember 5 starring that bad boy! I definitely need to read this one. Thanks
Veronica: I’m almost finished Interim. Loving it.
See? I wasn’t the only one needing a fresh and crazy-intense read! Yet it’s such a delicate subject matter, and I had no idea what I was really going into, but I HAD to read it. I love a good psych-thriller, but I also love personal growth, love and redemption. The whole phoenix rising from the ashes… I was hoping for intensity but also for something to make my heart swell in love and relief and happiness.
Shane: I want to read Interim, but I am afraid. I am such a chicken, I know.
Jean: Oh, and I think I’ll let Amy and Maryse read Interim first and be the guinea pigs…..that blurb was a little disturbing, but intriguing!
I totally get you both. This one could have gone any way and I was ready for anything. As expected, the author delivered some punches, and it lead me on quite the emotional journey. Definitely some surprises along the way!
Sally: Maryse HOLY COW! Did you ever wind up reading Interim by S. Walden?? I just finished it and DAMN that was a GREAT read! Put on your big girl panties ladies if you plan to take this book on. That’s all I have to say. BOOM! This author nailed it!!! This is a very different kind of story with a very serious and quite disturbing subject matter that had my adrenaline pumping the entire time. THE ENTIRE TIME. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Nic: Read interim earlier this week. You will not be disappointed. I love when a book is does not follow a normal plot plan. This was it. You think you know where it’s going and then it changes and then it changes back. It was great. Loved this story.
From the need to conform and “fit in”, to sacrificing personal preferences and convictions for popularity. From body image issues to resigning oneself to simply go along with the “mean crowd” just to keep from being ostracized. That, in itself, is detrimental to personal growth and happiness. We get a look at all aspects of peer pressure.
But this book takes us a few steps further. Allows us a look, and leads us on a downward spiral at the kind of emotional and physical bullying that leads one to want revenge (as we’ve seen in real life with the school shootings). Some being bullied even right in their own home by those that are supposed to love and protect them.
So what’s it about?
Jeremy has been bullied all of his life. Having been abandoned by his mother at a young age, and beaten by his drunken father throughout his life, he feels unloved, lost, and angry. Couple that with the abuse he gets from his classmates (all throughout elementary and high school) they ostracize him for his scars (caused by his father, by the way) and physically beat him on a regular basis. This young boy feels like he has nothing. Nowhere to turn, nobody to love him.
But he reservedly befriends Hannah (another “outcast”) and secretly falls in love with sweet and happy “Regan” (who’s also on the cusp of being considered an outcast, but she’s just friendly and “cool” enough to not be). She’s a spunky defender and her heart seems true.
All of that changes when they begin high school and she gets in with the “cool kids”. The mean kids. And starts dating Jeremy’s enemy/bully #1. Hannah and he continue to huddle together, but he’s getting stronger. Physically and mentally… and he wants to make them pay.
Regan has always crushed on him. Outcast, or not… he’s kind of hot, and especially more so now that he’s practically a man. And then she comes across his notebook. One that he didn’t realize he dropped, but that holds all of his secrets.
Tell . Don’t tell. Live with the fear, the guilt, the anger. Ruin a life. Don’t ruin a life. Lock him up . Save dozens. Don’t lock him up. Kill those people. No! Talk him down, instead. Yes, yes! Talk him down. But wait. That doesn’t work. That never works. Tell an adult. Tell an adult. Tell an adult . . .
And she struggles with the shock, the fear and the incredible dilemma of what to do. Confronts him.
“Give me my journal!” he demanded, leaning into her.
“No!” she screamed, inches from his face.
“It’s my journal!”
“It’s not a journal! It’s a murder manifesto!”
His eyes went wide. “You don’t know a thing!”
“I know this is Columbine sh!t, Jer! I know that much!”
And somehow, despite all odds (and wow those are some odds!!!) through lies, and adamant convincing… they tentatively become friends.
He tells her what she wants to hear.
Be a good boy. He lied to her about his character, playing the pathetic victim so she would believe in his false innocence. Be a good boy. He planned to kill people.
Be a good boy.
“I can’t,” he confessed out loud.
She believes in him. And in what her goodness of her heart insists she must believe.
She cried. She thought of the boy who endured years of abuse from kids who had nothing better to do— kids who got away with it every time. She thought of her one attempt at helping him. It seemed pathetic and small now. She should have done more. She couldn’t do it on God’s level, but she could have done something. She thought maybe God used people to help others, and he wanted her to help Jeremy. She didn’t obey, and she was the cause of his continued distress. His years of loneliness. His heartbreak.
And I’ll leave you there to discover the rest. Grow with them… or tumble with them. You’ll see. It can get dark, for sure.
Mind you, the dark look at this issue is more through Jeremy’s eyes (with his vengeful plans and hatred) and not so much of the actual bullying. Perhaps, and ugh… I hate to say this, but perhaps had we “lived” the bullying with him “throughout” his childhood, I might have felt his distress, and therefore been heartbroken for him… a little more.
But I kind of went into this book seeing him, right off the bat, as the villain. Not that I could ever agree or rally behind any bullying-victim’s plans such as what he was planning, but the fact that we had only a “light” look back to his abuse gave this book more of a “gentle” feel, and so… I was more terrified of him, than angry along with him, ya know?
Amy: Amy: I finished up Interim last night, and it was, well, not what I was expecting. If I start listing all the things that irked me then it will sound like I didn’t like the book, but I *did* like it…I just was hoping for a similar kind of *gasp* factor that Going Under had and for ME this one didn’t have it. GAH!
Totally agree, Amy. A good read, and I read with gusto through the last half (holy moly that reveal!!), but I struggled getting into the first half of the story. Even though I KNEW it was totally up my alley. I just couldn’t get used to the “voice” of the characters. Well… not him so much (he felt about right…). But I felt that SHE had a very young feel (most of her crew had that teeny-bopper thing going on), even though they were all mostly… 18 and 19? The voices, and a lot of the “beginning” lessened the intensity and impact of the story as a whole, for me.
Maryse: I’d say, for me, the heroine in Interim sounds young. And I know she’s what? 15? 16? (sidetone from Maryse she was actually 17/18) But… feels like a young teen… I dunno. I’m still in the 1st half…
Amy: Yeah, she is actually a senior in Interim but she definitely has an immature vibe to her. I was just hoping for more suspense or maybe for *spoiler*, ya know?
Right there with you, Amy. Sometimes it was SO deep. So SO SO rich and meaningful. And sometimes… it felt too light for the subject at hand. Or the characters did. Maybe it’s what we needed to keep this from getting too dark. To alleviate the intensity of that downward spiral that we could possibly find ourselves in, when it comes to controversial subject matters such as this.
Mind you, it still threw me for a loop. Eventually, I found the groove, and I just I couldn’t put it down anymore. Good stuff! Especially the 2nd half. And that ending! And the personal introspection.
Like this one that had me gasping… WOW!!! (BUT MAYBE SKIP THIS QUOTE BELOW if you haven’t read the book yet, if you like to go in mostly blind. It’s not a spoiler, but definitely a look through the crack in his revenge-armor).
It’s hard when you make a plan to kill people— work tirelessly to get all the details sorted out— spend hours of your life seething and churning and cultivating the much-deserved hatred— convince yourself of your duty to fellow sufferers— and then have a good day.
A really good day.
WHOA. This “realization” made a huge impact on me. By this point… I was in! But does that change anything? I’ll let you find out.
3.5 stars! (3 stars for the first half and 4 stars for the 2nd half).
P.S. Thank you to the author for the review copy!