Publication date: April 28th, 2015
Published by: Atria
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 book is quite different than anything I've read before. I don't think it fits into any defined category: YA-impossible, New Adult-close but still no, Adult-not quite. So where does that leave Black Iris? Nowhere and everywhere.
Black Iris was a really dark, sexy, intense book which I found myself thinking about long after I finished reading it. If I'm being honest, I didn't think I'll like it 100 pages in. I found the writing pretentious and over the top, only to realise later that that's exactly how it's supposed to be and that writing style fits this book perfectly.
I must admit I found the different timelines a bit confusing, at the point where I had to write down the years and put the events in chronological order to make some sense of them. As for the writing, yes it was definitely over the top, but once you got used to it there were some scenes in the book that just left me breathless. And I'm not talking about the steamy sex scenes which were ridiculously well written.
This book is about Laney's revenge against the people she thinks wronged her and their struggle (not hers) with her sexuality. Laney just couldn't understand why something that came so natural to her, was so hard for so many people she didn't even know to realise and accept and eventually it started eating away at her. All that rage and anger started to get hold of her mind and heart and led her actions. I know that part of Laney's struggle reflects Raeder's own personal experience as she explains in the Acknowledgments part of the book, so I don't think I have any right to criticize and express my opinion on what is basically someone's own soul and heart on the paper. I won't even pretend to understand what she went through so I'm finding it impossible to judge Laney's feelings and dark thoughts.
SPOILER those that hurt Laney did not kill her mom. They did not force her to take the pills. They did not force her to change her mom's medication. That was all Laney. She did it for semi selfish reasons (she did it for her brother too, so she was not entirely selfish) and because there was something innately wrong with her. She hang around with her worst enemy, who she asked to get her the pills to use on her mom and then almost beat him to death because it was somehow his fault. I'm not saying Z was innocent, far from it. And I know that Laney admits that what happened to her mom was her fault but does she really believes it? Or is she so wrapped into "everyone hates" me world that she thinks that whatever happens to her is always someone else's fault? SPOILER END
That's what I didn't like about the book. How Laney continued to live in a world of hate even after everything that happened to her and even after she started to feel love from someone she loved herself. Unfortunately, that did not quenched her thirst for violence and hurt not even a little. She said from the beginning that she is "no heroine" and "fuck forgiveness". See, I am not ok with that. Violence against violence is never the solution no matter how much you have been wronged and no matter how much your whole body wants to hurt someone bad. That much hate will only leave you hallow and destroyed, and in the end there will be nothing left. Apparently, that doesn't bother Laney at all or Blythe for that matter. But if we are not to care for the main character what was the point of the story with her mom and her lovely brother if not to feel even a little bit of sympathy for Laney, some hope? I particularly disliked how very appealing and exciting this "eye for an eye" way of dealing with things was presented, like as long as we can get away with it, we'll hunt down and mess up any mother *ucker that hurt us. Nope, completely opposed to that.
I recommend Black Iris to readers bored of the same cookie cutter NA college reads, who want something completely different, fresh and exciting. For those that have read Unteachable and want to read something similar, this is not the book for you.