Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Published April 2015
Genres: Dark Romance, Romantic Suspense
Format: eBook
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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.

Laney Keating had an awful start into her senior year. The moment she finally decides to come out of the closet and ask a girl out has been captured and uploaded on YouTube for everyone to see, making her the school martyr and the target of all school bullies until the year ends. It’s the beginning of her downfall.

And while college seems to be the right time to make a change, crossing paths with the one who ruined her life awakens a fierce desire for revenge, one that she is determined to satisfy with the help of her new friends Armin and Blythe.

What I loved about this book:

  • The very unusual context and storyline

What I felt needed improvement:

  • The disturbing storytelling made it difficult to keep up
  • The storyline was so complex it was unreal
  • The characters are delusional and screwed-up
  • Everything is plain depressing
  • Heavy drug-abuse seen as a “normal” everyday occurrence

DNF at 69% – then picked up the book again and skimmed pages to the end.

I know I wasn’t too far from finishing this book, but I just had to draw the line at 69%. I’ve read my fair share of “disturbing” books (including Alessandra Torre) and usually love them, but I just couldn’t “understand” Black Iris, and at some point it was just too much.

In the end I am glad that I skimmed pages towards the end (about 3 months after stopping around two thirds of the book) because I completely did not expect the huge twist in the plot. It helped bring a little more sense and reason to Black Iris, but it’s also now fully supporting my opinion that this book is, indeed, a total mindfuck.

“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.”

All in all, the storyline on its own was great – completely twisted and cray-cray – but great. Do not expect a story of love and romance. Black Iris is a totally screwed-up read, with screwed-up characters and an even more screwed-up storyline, that all revolves around revenge, and Laney’s dark desire to get back at everyone who ever made her life a living hell. The storyline around how she executes her revenge is so dark and complex that it takes all the realism out of the book, but it’s suspenseful as crazy. Now if only the writing wasn’t so confusing.

I found the back and forth between Past 1, Past 2 and Present extremely annoying, because they made reading and understanding the story extremely difficult. I understand this writing style was for effect and suspense, but in the end it caused more confusion than suspense.

The characters were also quite confusing int heir actions. Of course, all of their behavior makes more sense towards the ending of the book, but until you get there, you can’t quite follow what’s going on. And it seems like everyone in this book, apart from Laney’s father and brother, are completely out-of-their-mind psycho, which was a bit too much at times. I really couldn’t identify with any of them: I’m not talking about their sexual orientation, but about their words and actions.

This book is also very heavy on drug-abuse, which completely put me off. The whole message here was that it is OK for people this age to be drug-addicts because it’s their only way to escape from their everyday pain and ultimately: from who they are. Yep. Instead of facing stuff head on and dealing with it. Or just ignoring it.

“You’re a junkie. You throw a few tantrums, get a doc to call you manic-depressive or whatever. He writes you a free pass to the grown-up candy store. Then it’s party time.”

Now in terms of mature content, Black Iris has it all. You name it: Threesome, M/F and F/F and F/M/F. I have no issues with those type of scenes, but I just felt like they wouldn’t not add to the story and where often completely useless, or maybe I felt that way because I felt they didn’t contribute to a love story. Love (or the concept of it) in this book is so very complex you don’t know if the relationship between the main characters is one of physical nature or of actual love. It’s also never clear if what little “love” there is is “for real”, or if it is the product of seeking revenge through manipulation. Especially towards the end: what you thought you knew just crumbles thanks to a few paragraphs.

“I adore you… I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

And in the end it’s just very sad that there’s absolutely no glimpse of hope for anyone in this book… The whole book is just one thing: plain depressing. I don’t know if it’s because “misery loves company” or “birds of a feather flock together”, but there was not one positive thought or character in this book.

But since I loved the twisted storyline this book, along with the poetic writing; and since I loved her first book Unteachable, I will not give up on future releases from Leah Raeder. I just hope they will be less complex, and actually have some kind of morale (or at least one that is a bit more obvious and less bleak than here.)

Detailed Rating
3.5 Stars
0.5 Stars
3.5 Stars
All the feels
0.5 Stars
Overall: one-half-stars