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eARC Review: Inyoni Rocks by Carmen-Shea Hepburn

Amanzimtoti [2]: Inyoni RocksInyoni Rocks by Carmen-Shea Hepburn
Published by:
Publication Date: 
Series: Amanzimtoti, #2
Genres: Young Adult, LGBTQIA+
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
Rating: 4
Date Read: March 20th, 2017
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website | Book 1

After a bleak winter break alternately spent between the snowy mountaintops of the Drakensberg and a self-imposed exile upon his return to Amanzimtoti, Wayne du Preez finds himself commencing his third term at Toti High with something akin to dread as the tangled web of secrets and lies he’s been spinning since the start of matric steadily begin to unravel.

With Kyle still circling him, and Jessica demanding answers, it’s finally left to Travis to offer his best friend an ultimatum that will set the course for the rest of the school year, and indeed, the rest of their lives:

“You tell her. Everything. You tell her now, or I will.”

I received a copy of Inyoni Rocks from the Author for review consideration. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

Inyoni Rocks is the Sequel to The Ridge, a brilliant début set in South Africa. It takes up not long after the last book. The story is told in the third-person POV of Wayne Du Preez. I’ve been waiting for this sequel for a while now. I adored the first book, so I was pretty hyped up to read this sequel. I was hooked on finding out what happened to the characters and their relationship with each other. And I actually enjoyed this Sequel so much better than the first.

This book is also trigger heavy, Wayne is dealing with his problems the only way he thinks is possible, denial and self-harm. His family is horrible beyond reasoning. His only pillar of hope are his best friend and his best friend’s sister who also happens to be his girlfriend.

Wayne’s situation is so suffocating, and he is damaged by it. He has a controlling father and older brother who would hit him whenever he doesn’t act how they want him to be. His mom doesn’t even support him.

Once I got a few chapters into this book, I found it incredibly hard to put down. I was completely sucked in by Wayne’s internal conflict, Kyle’s persistence of a relationship of any form and Jessica’s unwavering dedication and kindness. I honestly loved every single character and the relationships and dynamic built between all of them.

The characters felt real, the situations they’re in felt real, I was pleasantly surprised by how relatable and realistic the characters in this book were. It was extremely easy for me to relate to Wayne and become attached to him. I loved how Wayne couldn’t just turn off his anxiety because in so many books the main character will be worrying or upset about something and they just decide to not worry and it works, but that’s so unrealistic in my opinion.

I found myself exceptionally fond of Kyle as he tried to break down Wayne’s walls. Although I appreciated Wayne’s best-friends, Jessica and Travis, I felt that the hold Kyle had on Wayne was far more powerful than the twins’ support system because it was blunt and honest. I think he’s a very likeable character.

I also love Travis and Jessica, their friendship and support of Wayne are wonderful to read. Jess is a very patient and loving girlfriend, while she questions Wayne and worries about him, she also gives him space when he needs it. Travis worries about his best friend too, but he also loves his sister and would do anything to protect her.

Other than the intensity of Hepburn’s novels, my favourite component of this was definitely the writing. It is so beautiful. A lot of her descriptions were so vivid. She also did a great job of showing, not just telling, the constant internal battle that plagued Wayne. Hepburn did such a good job of characterization and such a beautiful job of writing this book.

Carmen-Shea Hepburn has taken on a subject matter most authors shy away from. It is not a fast-pace, action-packed kind of story. It is contemplative, inquisitive, dark, and brutally honest. The author expertly portrays the suffocating grip of self-hate, and the emotional roller-coaster of denial.

The only problem I had was that this book felt a little repetitive after a while because of similar descriptions and words used a lot. Also, I felt that too much time was dedicated to Wayne’s internalised homophobia and self-harm and anxiety issues. I understand that this is incredibly important, and I loved that it was in the book, but I believe we saw one too many instances of it. But again, it is incredibly important to see these issues discussed and described, especially in the case of teenage boys.

This book explores the awful struggle of anxiety in a realistic way. This is not an easy topic to write about convincingly, yet the connection between the writer and the character is extremely strong throughout the book.

I also loved the exploration of Amanzimtoti, not just hearing about the beaches but getting to know the people and places in general. I really enjoyed being able to read about a quiet little coastal town and seeing it through the eyes of its inhabitants. (Also, check out the interactive map!)

Overall, I really loved Inyoni Rocks and it’s quite a memorable read. I really enjoyed the experience of this book and the final outcome, it was a roller coaster ride of emotions but in the end felt so real and raw. The book is so vivid that there is not one single point that I couldn’t visualize what was happening.

The Ridge was incredible, but this one was so much better. I absolutely adored this book! It fully lived up to my expectations. This book will forever be one of my favourites and I can’t wait for future books in this series as well any other books Carmen-Shea writes. So I’m looking forward to the novella coming out and he third book in the series. I truly look forward to reading more from Carmen-Shea. I’m sorry for this extremely long review.

Here are some of the trigger warnings: Panic attacks, Self harm, suicide, homophobia, mentions of violence and alcohol, references to child abuse. Generally I would say this book is for mature audiences only – there is quite a lot of strong language, some violence and also casual use of alcohol and drugs. It could be incredibly triggering.

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