Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Format: ebook, 244 pages
He’s loved her. Killed for her. Yet he may not be able to save her.
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids. Since then, he’s never stopped trying to shelter her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when skipping from one toxic relationship to another. Archer is always there, reeled in and tossed out, waiting to be noticed.
Then Evan Bishop breezes into town with a warm smile and calming touch, and Archer can’t deny his attraction to him. Evan is the only person who keeps him around without a single string attached. And the harder Archer falls for Evan, the more he sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and once she finds out Archer’s dark secret, she threatens to expose the truth if she doesn’t get what she wants. And what she wants is for him to end his relationship with Evan...permanently.
The following review is based on a copy provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you, Entangled :)
I started Hushed this morning and just finished reading. I don’t quite know what to say… I kind of knew it would be good (I’ve wanted to read it for more than a year), but I wasn’t prepared for how intense this story would be. It definitely packs one hell of a punch. It’s an unconventional and courageous book on a number of levels. I’ll just try to give you an impression without spoiling anything.
Hushed begins with Archer, our main character, forcing a guy to kill himself via an overdose. He doesn’t like it, but he also feels no regrets. It wasn’t the first time. And it made me really uncomfortable as a reader, because we’re not used to being made complicit with a murderer. The murderer isn’t usually the main character, it’s the villain, right?
It took me a while to warm up to Archer, understand where he was coming from, why he did what he did. He remains controversial throughout the book, and I liked that. He also goes through a huge character development and I loved how complex he was, how the writing never tried to apologize for him or ‘force’ the reader to sympathize/throw a pity party. The style was sparse and straightforward and that worked perfectly. Even though everything is told in the third person, I never felt distant from Archer, I was right there, sometimes closer than I was comfortable being. But I think that’s a sign of good literature – it makes you uncomfortable. I was also unable to stop reading or ‘look away’, hence why I finished the story in half a day.
Archer is a withdrawn college freshman who’s gone through too much in his short life. He keeps himself on a tight leash. His whole life revolves around Vivian, the girl who’s been his best friend and only love for his entire life. He’d do anything for her. Really anything. If she’d only notice that he was the only guy who’s never hurt her, always been there for her… At first that didn’t make me like him. I had the impression that he was the typical friendzoned guy who wasn’t dealing well, but it soon turned out that the reasons for his behavior were different and more complex. He and Viv seemed to be chained together and their relationship was very very unhealthy and co-dependent. I had to keep thinking about that quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” For Vivian apparently that meant running back to the guy who beat her up and using Archer to fall back on whenever she needed him inbetween.
Then there’s Evan, a new addition to their circle of friends. He is the only one not put off my Archer’s rather anti-social behavior. He seeks him out, wants to spend time with and listen to him. He makes him start to stand up for himself when it comes to Vivian; he makes him think he might be able to be a better person. That his whole life doesn’t have to revolve around a selfish person dragging him down and never giving anything in return. Their friendship and relationship evolves very naturally and gradually, it never felt forced or contrived and I never had the impression that the book/author tried to make a big deal out of it (the fact that they’re both guys, I mean). I really like that – that’s it’s simply two people finding each other and growing closer and not so much about Archer coming to terms with feeling something for a guy.
However, there’s the bodycount. And if you have a problem with violence, then maybe this isn’t the book for you. It’s never gratuitous, but it’s also unapologetic and at times graphic. At first I was almost shocked at how Archer just seemed to take the kills in stride… but then something changes, and he’s no longer sure he wants to go on as he did. The walls he’s built around himself begin to crumble. People get suspicious, questions are asked, lies told. How will Archer react when Viv goes off the deep end? Will Evan stay with him when he finds out what Archer’s done?
Despite the murder plot, Hushed is very character-focused, but it never felt slow. There was always a lot going on either on an emotional or a plot level. The book is perfectly structured and well-paced; never breathless, never boring. I was completely immersed. Hoping, fearing, hurting, not knowing what to think and who I wanted to get caught. There were dramatic scenes, but no ‘milking the drama’ or overdoing things in a ridiculous way to increase the tension.
If you’re looking for a dark New Adult read that deals with heavy themes and is well-written and gritty, go for it. If you want something fluffy and fun, look elsewhere. The ending was satisfying but realistic and as far as I know, there is no sequel planned. If you enjoy books that dare to push the limits a bit and have atypical characters that you can’t always root for unconditionally, I think Hushed is the book for you. It always forces you to reconsider your position to what is happening. In any case, I’m glad I’ve had the chance to read it. It was thought-provoking and cathartic and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Kelley York’s work.
Have you read Hushed? What did you think? If not, do you think this might be a book for you? Have you read anything similar?