Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Black Iris by Leah Raeder

4 "Mind = Blown" Stars

Back Cover Blurb -
 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.
This about sums up my reactions after finishing this book


“I don’t know if I was trying to numb myself or to feel something through the numbness.  Maybe both.”
Black Iris is the second book that I have read by author Leah Raeder, Unteachable (a book I really enjoyed) being the first and after finishing this one, I have found that there is a certain style in which Ms. Raeder likes to write and that coupled with her often dark and gritty subject matter, Ms. Raeder’s books are not going to be for everyone.  To be completely honest, I’m not too sure that her books are even really for me, but one things is for sure and that is that Ms. Raeder has a profound talent for writing and whether you find yourself loving or burning her books, her talent cannot be denied.
I have found through the years that I am not one that cares much for author’s that like to use a bunch of flowery words or those that like to be overly dramatic in their descriptions or characterizations.  I recently read a very highly-rated book, by a celebrated author and though the storyline was great and very interesting, I found that I could NOT stomach the dramatic descriptions littered throughout the pages and what could have potentially been a really good read, ended up being a disastrous, head-ache inducing experience.  I tell you all of this, because Ms. Raeder is absolutely overly dramatic in her descriptions and those descriptions are carefully wound into almost every paragraph of this book, but instead of turning me off or causing me fits of frustrated sighing and eye-rolling, I instead found that I was hanging on every word and devouring those grandiose details as fast as my little mind could comprehend them.  Instead of it all reading as if a thesaurus threw up all over the pages, everything felt more poetic in nature and it was all almost very Plath-esque in its delivery.  Again, Ms. Raeder has an extremely profound talent for writing. 
“That summer, we were gods.  Blythe showed me how to control men.  No more Ugly Friend.  We were sky high and ice cold, pure untouchable sex in fuck-you heels and scarlet lips, our hands all over each other, driving boys crazy.  Driving ourselves crazy.  I’d never be beautiful like her, but the glamour of her aura transformed me from Wednesday to Morticia and somehow I became darkly alluring, enigmatic.”
Our heroine in this story, or anti-hero would be more precise, is a very unlikeable and troubled young woman, yet despite all of that, I could not help but feel sorry for her and want to continue reading about her utterly messed up life.  We are also given sub-characters in this story that are just as messed up as our anti-hero and I found myself just as inexplicably drawn to them as well.  Black Iris takes us deep into a world of drugs, mental-illness, lies and sexual exploration.  We are thrust into the mind of a drug-addicted, mentally unstable, society standard deviant and the resulting ride is nothing short of exhilarating.  I was an anxious mess while reading this book and I’m pretty sure I hated it as much as I loved it.  It was one of those reads that managed to pull real emotion from me, the way only a really well written book can do.  Black Iris - An ugly, macabre story laced with poetic euphuisms that sinks its clawed fingers and saliva drenched teeth into your very soul and doesn’t let go, not even after you have closed the book to this story and lay your head down to sleep.  It stays with you.  Ms. Raeder, the great puppet master and all of us, the dancing marionettes dangling from her strings.        
“That’s the thing.  Maybe we’re not really afraid of pain.  Maybe we’re afraid of how much we might like it.”
Overall, YES…I absolutely recommend this book, but I also want to give future readers a fair warning before picking this up.  This book contains drug use, M/F M/F/F and F/F sexual encounters, language and a lot of dark subject matter.  If any of those items are book no-no’s for you, then I suggest you stay away from this one.  If you enjoy darker reads that touch on the most basic forms of human depravity – sex, drugs and love, then this little gem is for you. 
Happy reading, until next time…

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