February 14, 2018

Honor Code by Kiersi Burkhart

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
***Let me start off this review by saying that it may be the most disorganized review I've ever written, and give a huge trigger warning for rape/sexual assault. I'm writing this not caring about grammar, or flowy writing, or anything else, because I walked away from this book so rage-y that I can't really put into appropriate words all the things I felt. Also my reviews usually do not contain spoilers, but this one does because it's the only way to accurately express my full range of emotions. If it turns out you love this format of review, let me know because this is different than what I normally do but I'm happy to change up my style if that's what you guys like reading!***

Honor Code by Kiersi Burkhart follows Sam, a fifteen-year-old girl who gets into an elite private school, where behind closed doors she learns and experiences things she never expected. From having to line up naked and be ranked by upperclassmen, to being forced to join a sports team, Sam isn't sure she's ready to handle what's in store for her, but her desire to earn a scholarship to college keeps her motivated to tough it out. When she gets matched with the hot upperclassman she's been drooling over for the school mixer, she thinks that she's finally fitting in, until that upperclassman takes advantage of her attraction to him and her naivety and rapes her when she went to him for help with schoolwork. Wanting to keep the school honor code sacred, Sam seemingly tries hard to avoid exposing the incident or identifying herself or the prosecutor, but she still fights in her own way to seek justice.

My thoughts through the first 2/3 or so of this book were all positive. We need more books about rape culture to bring the issue to light. This showed why girls don't come forward when they've been sexually assaulted, and details all the fallout that happens when they finally do. YAASSS, I thought, this book is everything. Until the plot twist happened that had me raging until the very last page (and I'm still raging, as evidenced by this review).

SAM DIDN'T ACTUALLY GET RAPED. It was her roommate Gracie that went through that traumatic incident, and Sam in some deranged quest to help her decided to make the story her own and go public with it. Yes, the boy who raped Gracie attempted to rape Sam too, but she was able to escape before anything happened. THIS MADE ME SO ANGRY. DO NOT TAKE SOMEONE'S SEXUAL ASSAULT EXPERIENCE AND MAKE IT YOUR OWN. I don't care if you want to help them. I don't care if you're trying to expose someone and make them seek justice. Rape is such a terrible and deeply personal occurrence that if the person who experienced it doesn't want to pursue reporting/exposing it or do anything about it, THAT IS THEIR DECISION, not yours. Please, come forward with your own experience of how he attempted to rape you, and make him face justice for that, but DO NOT MASQUERADE. 

Now I do think this book had some great themes. Exposing corruption in private schools, showing how girls are treated cruelly after coming forward with this type of information, and how rich white male privilege is unfortunately alive and well today are all things that it is important to address, and it did all these things extremely well. That being said, I just couldn't wrap my head around what Sam did and why this is ok. I'm not sure if it was her fifteen-year-old mind and care for her friend that made her think this was a good idea, or if she just wanted the spotlight, but this just does not sit right with me. And judging by the Goodreads reviews, I'm the only one that thinks this.

I've struggled a lot with my rating for this book because while the false rape report really set me off, I think it tried and succeeded to shine light on the overall rape culture issues our society faces today. I originally wanted to rate it as 2 stars, but I think I'm going to bump it up because despite the problematic plot twist, the message was good and the writing was fantastic, and I did really enjoy reading it.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thanks to Lerner Publishing Group for allowing me early digital access to this book. Honor Code by Kiersi Burkhart releases on March 1st!

13 comments:

Whispering Stories said...

I can fully understand why you would have an issue with this book. Making a rape allegation against someone that isn't true (whether they have raped someone else or not), is not right. I also can't see a fifteen year old thinking like that - but then that's my experience with teenagers, some may disagree with me.

Terrie Arasin said...

WOW!! That's crazy! Great review and I completely agree with your rage!

Randi said...

Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for posting this review. It's stunts like this that lead to women not being believed when they do come forward.

Simply Steph said...

I really have to agree with you on your anger with this book. This is such a serious issue and I feel it makes people not take rape seriously 😒. Thanks for your review I think I’l pass on this one, I appreciate your honest review though!

Charlotte Brand said...

Stunning review! I 100% understand your anger <3

Charlotte | https://charlotteidek.com

DJ Sakata said...

This is why we read - I have to love a book that can elicit such a reaction - positive or negative, you won't soon forget this one.

Norees Gasper said...

Great review! I totally feel your anger, and it is definitely important to talk about these issues

Nikki Saturday Nite Reader said...

Thank you for sharing this book and your honest review. You are right in that more stories on rape culture need to be voiced. I recently read one that I recommend, its a fiction read and I think did a good job in highlighting what happens in the minds of the victims. Its called These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung.

Pon said...

Very good and unbiased review :)

Bewitched Reader Book Blog said...

Wonderful review. I love your honesty regarding both your positives and negatives of this one. I'm torn on if I want to read this one or not. It's definitely one I will keep in mind.

Sara Koelsch said...

This doesn't seem like a book I could handle and I can handle a lot. I agree with your review, you just can't take someone's experience and make it yours especially with rape.

Megan said...

Wow...very intense book. I can completely see where you are coming from.

Megan @ Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest

Terri said...

I wonder if this was somehow based on something that happened in real life.