Book Review: HUSHED by Kelley York

Photo credit: Goodreads
Yes, I know I just recently reviewed a book, but I’ve read another great one, and I want to review it before I forget. So.

Before I begin! Here’s the Goodreads summary:
He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her. 
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed. 
Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is. 
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.”
First and foremost! Hushed by Kelley York is a New Adult Thriller/MM Romance! I’ve seen a lot of people call it YA, but Archer and Evan are in college (as are all the major characters) and it’s published by Entangled’s Embrace line (which is a New Adult line). So just clearing that up. (Also, full disclosure: I'm an Assistant Editor for Entangled, but they did not ask me to review this book. I'm reviewing it because I enjoyed it and that's it).

Related to the NA note: for those of you nervous about reading NA because of the potentially graphic content, this book is pretty tame. There’s one (literally) steamy scene, but there isn’t graphic content, and more than anything there’s just a lot of adorable cuddles and kisses. (Though, trigger warning, there’s some sexual assault mentioned throughout the book).

Okay! So as for the actual book, this was such an interesting read. First of all, I can only think of one other book I’ve read from the primary POV of a serial killer (or, I suppose, vigilante, depending on how you look at it) and it made for a totally fascinating read. Mix in the super unhealthy relationship between Archer and Vicki and the ridiculously adorable Evan (who I just want to huggle forever) and I was totally hooked. The plot is interesting, the pacing works well and the relationships are complicated. I was totally emotionally invested and I really really enjoyed it.

Minor gripes: I may have missed it, but I don't think Archer specifically identifies as bisexual, which isn't a deal-breaker, but as he's pretty obviously bisexual, I would have liked to see him identify and help fight against bi erasure. (Though, if I missed it, which is totally possible, then never mind). Also, toward the end, I started getting kind of aggravated with Vivian and Archer's relationship, but I didn't think it was necessarily unrealistic...just frustrating. So.

All in all, I loved reading Hushed and I was so extremely happy to not only see some diversity on the NA shelf, but to see some diversity in a NA book that isn't strictly Contemporary Romance (*double high five!*). If you’re looking for some diversity to add your NA shelf, I absolutely recommend Hushed.

Do you have any diverse NA recommendations for me? I’d love to hear about them!

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae gives 4.5/5 stars to HUSHED by @elixing. Have you read this gripping LGBTQ+ NA Thriller? (Click to tweet)    
Looking for an intense NA read with a LGBTQ+ protag? Check out HUSHED by @elixing. (Click to tweet)


Kelley said...

Can I ask you about this: "....I was so extremely happy to not only see some diversity on the NA shelf, but to see some diversity in a NA book that isn't strictly Contemporary Romance (*double high five!*)."

I write in the NA genre (still a WIP, not published) and my story has only a tiny theme of romance. I wonder if I'm biting off more than I can chew with the genre label. I feel like NA is being stereotyped as "A step up from YA, but a step below erotica." I want there to be more stories in NA that are funny, that are serious, or that leave you on the edge of your seat.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good romance! But I'd hate for books that choose NA because of the age of the characters, to be left behind because there was the expectation that romance was a part of the story, and it isn't. How do we put that out there that NA isn't just romance? (does that make sense?)

Ava Jae said...

Hi Kelley! So I've written a couple posts about writing NA that you might find helpful:

New Adult: No Sex Required

Young Adult vs. New Adult: What's the Difference?

I also attended a writing convention this year (RT14) and went to a panel that talked about NA called "What's Next in New Adult?" I live-tweeted the panel and storified it in this post.

Finally, Spec Fic NA author Caitlin Sinead recently wrote a guest post here on Writability about The New Adult Speculative Fiction Landscape.

All in all, there's a lot more to New Adult than the age of the characters (some of which is explained in the YA vs. NA post I linked to above), so it's important that you hit those themes no matter what. Publishing non-CR NA is tough right now, especially if you want to publish traditionally, but I'm optimistic that the market will eventually open up to it. Right now, both Cora Carmack and Sarah Maas have written (and sold) non-CR NA (Paranormal and Fantasy, respectively) that I'm super excited about. So I suppose we'll see what happens. :)

Ava Jae said...

Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Elizabeth! I agree—it's a very addictive read. Diversity FTW!

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