Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: Black Iris

Black Iris by Leah Raeder


It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.


My rating:
5 of 5 stars

I am not the heroine of this story.
And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes. I’m completely dysfunctional and that’s the way I like it, so don’t expect a character arc where I finally find Redemption, Growth, and Change, or learn How to Forgive Myself and Others.
Fuck forgiveness.

Hands down. This is probably the best book I've read in 2015 and it will be difficult to top this read.

I'm going to admit something: When I first discovered this book, I didn't want to read it. The synopsis sounded interesting, but recently I had been terribly disappointed by a NA book and the (I'm a little ashamed of admitting this now; I've told you I've changed a lot in a little time) LGBT tag kind of repelled me. Now it doesn't – in fact, now I look for books that address those themes--, but it did back then, and it prevented me from shelving this.

Then, the ARC reviews started to appear and they were glowing ones. As you may expect, I couldn't help but feel curious. I decided to check on the author's books and I saw she had another book published (Unteachable), which I had been recommended before, but hadn't cared to read. In my “research”, I found this blog post by the author. It completely changed my mind about this book.

So why all the ramble? Because I'm really glad I decided to get over my narrow-mindedness.

Black Iris is not your typical NA novel. Forget about fairy-tales, cute romances and hope-filled stories. This is all about revenge.

I’m the black iris watered by poison. The wolf that raised its head among sheep and devoured its way, ruthless and bloody, to freedom. I never forgave, never forgot.

I'm not going to spoil you details about the plot, but you have to know that this book is dark. The character's actions were sometimes morally questionable, yet that didn't prevent me from loving it.

As in Unteachable, the characters in Black Iris are not of the typical kind. They're complex, realistic, can be unlikable, but they're also easily relatable. Laney's struggles, for example, are things a lot of teenagers struggle with too. That said, the character development was also great. You root for the characters, even when you know you probably shouldn't.

“If you hate human connection so much, why come with us?”
Because I don’t hate it. I hate how much I need it. 
Because you’re the ones I was waiting for. 
Because you smell like prey.

Writing style is just as perfect. How would I describe it? Beautiful, vivid... explosive, as I said in my review ofUnteachable. There are no coherent thoughts that can express how much I love Leah's writing style. Look at this passage, for example:

Two girls, cherry-mouthed, glitter-lashed, our skin luminous with moonlight and sweat, making out beneath pennants that still shivered with the afternoon’s boy bravado. 
If only you bastards could see me now.

AH-MAZING. My reaction to whatever she writes is basically this:

But what makes Black Iris so special? Besides all the things I've mentioned, this book also goes beyond entertainment. It's also a study on humanity. A study of humanity's darkness and evil. Or well, at least that's how I felt it. I feel like this book is going to be important to some people, too, because the themes addressed in it are things we should talk about more commonly.

There's another thing I absolutely loved in this book, and that was the references to classics. I don't know why, but for some reason it makes me feel less stupid, and I also feel like it increases people's interest in classics. Like, I added a ton of books to my TBR after finishing this. It also felt glorious whenever I read one of those quotes and I recognised the work.

Don't expect anything like Unteachable when/if you read this, because they're not similar at all. Unteachable, even when it's better than most NA, still has that NA feel in it. This one does not have it, on the other hand. But I loved that, because this is more like my kind of book. Dark, dark, dark. So dark the light cannot escape it. I wonder what it says about me that my favorite kind of books are these ones.

Girls love each other like animals. There is something ferocious and unself-conscious about it. We don’t guard ourselves like we do with boys. No one trains us to shield our hearts from each other. With girls, it’s total vulnerability from the beginning. Our skin is bare and soft. We love with claws and teeth and the blood is just proof of how much. It’s feral.

Amazing writing, great characterisation, bloody awesome plot twists, hot sex, strong themes addressed correctly... what else do I need to say to convince you to read this? As I said at the beginning, this is probably the best book I've read in 2015. I feel nothing I write will ever do justice to this book, but oh well, I did my best.

Highest possible recommendation. BELIEVE THE HYPE!



I need this book in my life so much that it's almost going to make me sick. I liked Unteachable a lot. I didn't love it, but the writing was so amazing I made my rating go up. This is Leah's writing effect on me:

(I'm a fool for beautiful writing)

April 28th still seems a long way from now, and I simply cannot wait to read this book. It looks so much better and kickass thanUnteachable, and that one had lots of good and kickass things. It's also going to be my first f/f, just so you know.


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