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BOOK REVIEW: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

| 21 April 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

April 2015
Paperback, $15.00
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli



Girls get under each other’s skin. We get too close, too attached, too crazy, and then we can’t let go. Our claws sink too deep. When we separate, we tear each other apart.

Black Iris is not your typical New Adult book. It’s not about romance, or finding your true love or freeing yourself from the past. It’s about cold, hard vengeance. Forget your overused, overworked Mary Sue heroines. Forget your template love story. Forget everything you thought you knew about revenge. Leah Raeder tells a story unlike any other, all through the eyes of our main character, Laney Keating.

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.

Laney Keating’s world turned upside down the moment she showed weakness towards a crush. When she acted on her feelings, the whispers began: queer, psycho, slut. Attention seeker. Then, her mother commits suicide, and Laney’s world turns once again. She’s lost. She’s abandoned. She feels dead inside. 

Doctors talk about it like it’s this separate thing, like a cold or flu. Something that can be cured without curing your personality, your uniqueness, your spirit. They don’t understand. It shapes us so much that it’s more like a scar, a deformity, on the inside where they can’t see.

Diagnosed borderline and depressed, Laney can’t wait to start college. She only has one thing on her mind: revenge. Revenge on those who hurt her. Revenge on those who laughed at her. Revenge on those who tore her apart, inch by inch, until there was nothing left except bitter anger. It’s the only thing that has kept her going all these years, the idea that one day, they will get their just desserts.

And she’s not alone.

“Tell me something.” He leaned closer, his voice raspy at the edges, charred. “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.

Blythe and Armin want to help, and they’ll do anything for Laney. As the story progresses, the reader starts to see through the drugged haze as Laney spirals out of control, and drags her friends with her. The reader witnesses lack of control, impulsion, white-hot rage and eroticism. Within the story, you see an anti-hero become a villain. Do not expect redemption. 

Black Iris is about succumbing to your deepest, darkest desires. It’s about a girl’s journey through madness, drugs, alcohol and revenge. It’s about leaving behind who you thought you were and embracing who you really are. It’s also about love.

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.
And it’s relentless.

Leah Raeder’s writing is powerful and thought provoking. Each word is chosen carefully, and packs a punch. Sometimes, I found myself breathless when it came to descriptions and Laney’s twisted, dark thoughts. I finished this book in one sitting, and was left with a barrel of emotions I didn’t know what to do with. I was angry, I was sad, but I was also incredibly happy and satisfied. Black Iris surprised me at every turn and, ultimately, I found myself thinking: This is not what I thought it would be. 

Be prepared for a breath-taking, exhilarating, violent, entrancing journey. Be prepared to question everything and everyone. Be prepared to love Black Iris. 

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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