These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung
Published by Griffith Moon on November 7, 2017
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
goodreads avg: 3.77
cw: eating disorders, suicide, sexual assault, pedophilia
Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by NetGalley.
At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.
Set in modern-day Los Angeles, These Violent Delights is a literary exploration of the unyielding pressures and vulnerabilities that so many women and girls experience, and analyzes the ways in which our institutions and families fail to protect or defend us. A suspenseful and nuanced story told from multiple points of view, the novel examines themes of sexuality, trauma, revenge, and the American myth of liberty and justice for all.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when going into this book. I loved the cover and when I skimmed the blurb, it definitely seemed like something up my alley. While the book had several positive points, it was overall underwhelming for me and kind of fell in the middle of the road as far as enjoyment went.
Overall, the message in the book was great. It was extremely supportive of survivors from all over the spectrum — the MC often feels guilty and like her assault wasn’t “bad enough” and is quickly disagreed with by the other characters. I also like how all of the survivors were their own people, they had different experiences, different histories, and different reactions. It demonstrates that anyone can be a survivor and that there isn’t one “right way” to deal with things.
I felt like the writing itself could have used some more work. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to any of the characters, and so the book wasn’t as hard-hitting for me as it should have been. There was a romance that felt largely out-of-place to me and I wasn’t sure why it had been included. There was some stuff toward the end that I felt was mostly for the sake of shock value and that added very little to the story, for me anyway.
I wouldn’t steer anyone away from this book if they’re interested, but I also don’t see myself recommending it to anyone. I feel like there are better portrayals of assault survivors out there to read.