Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hushed, Kelley York

hushed kelley yorkTitle: Hushed
Author: Kelley York (author website)
Release Date: December 6th 2011 by Entangled
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

From Goodreads:
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.

My father once wrote a ‘Letter to the Editor’ of a major Sydney newspaper. The paper in question had run an article discussing the dangers of certain breeds of dogs. Now, my father was not a particular fan of the breed; he was, however, a big fan of dogs in general. Having owned many in his life, he argued that there is no such thing as a bad dog, and that those animals which are dangerous are so for a reason: Abuse; training; mistreatment—themes which all rear their ugly heads in Kelley York's Hushed.

It recalls that well-worn argument of nature verses nurture. Take a child, a human being who is, for all intents and purposes, a blank canvas—a sponge. Expose that child to horrors; rob him of innocence, and what will remain? If that child reaches its darkest most desperate moments, what will he be capable of? Hushed looks at nurture: that we’re a product of our environments. But what it is far more interested with is a far more compelling question: how far is too far for redemption? Can a monster ever really change?

Archer is just such a monster, and saying as much is no secret. Hushed opens as he, ahem, supervises a ‘suicide’. He would do anything to free his best friend, Vivian, from the ghosts of her past, from those horrors, and if he has to murder to do it? Good. He’s never questioned his actions, until a boy named Evan forces his way into Archer’s life. Archer’s beginning to see that there’s more to the world than Vivian; that he’s capable of happiness, and not only that he’s capable, but he wants it. But is it too late for him to change and, perhaps more importantly, will Vivian let him?

Hushed is a tale with very few bright points. It’s bleak and cruel; a book about terrible people doing terrible things to one another. Its characters—Archer and Vivian especially—fascinated me, but I can’t admit to liking them. Archer draws to mind a teenage Dexter. He shows, and feels, no remorse for his actions until he learns to want something more for himself, and it’s rather heartbreaking to watch him doubt ‘more’ is something he can ever have, or deserves.

There are two key relationships are the core of Hushed: the sweet and tentative developing romance between Archer and Evan, and Archer’s toxic friendship with Vivian. The two prove rather antithetical of each other. The relationship and tangled history between Archer and Viv is complex and disturbing. It’s not co-dependent, exactly, but warped and twisted and rotting. While, in many ways, Vivian proves the narrative’s villain, she also represents Archer’s past and choices, and it’s not hard to draw parallels to any abusive relationship, where one party is terrified to leave. What is fascinating, here, is that it goes both ways, and as Vivian’s behavior grows more needy, callous, and cruel as the story progresses, it’s difficult not to step back and ask if Archer is really any better than she.

I’m sure I comment on this weekly, that a review is ‘hard to write’, but, truly, what makes Hushed so much so is the experience of reading it: I cannot admit to enjoying reading it. It’s compelling, fascinating, and I liked it immensely, but I took no sense of joy from it. No-one in this tome, even the ‘good’, is innocent, and no-one leaves with their hands truly clean in this story of manipulation, grief and horror.

The Verdict

Hushed is tense, bleak and gritty and boasts complex, layered characters. It offers a sweet, atypical romance worth reading for alone. But what Hushed does best is ask uncomfortable questions about the nature of redemption and revenge, and the difference between monsters and men, if, indeed, there are any.


  1. Oh, Sarah, this sounds... well, I think I over use the word, but so, so interesting. I think I'd have to be in exactly the right frame of mind to handle it though.

  2. Wow, this does sound intense. I like books that look into human nature, or nurture really. So happy you liked it. :)

  3. DUDE. Reading sure makes me realise how much I've missed reading your reviews. This right here is why your my favourite reviewer. Your words and your passion and your prosey goodness = magic. Not too long ago, I added this to my to-read list and after reading your lovely, lovely review, it reminds me why I did. Hopefully I'll read this eventually but for the time being, I need to focus on more lighter, fun reads and stories that aren't so dark and gritty.

    Want to know what was going through my mind as I was reading this? 'Australia, look no further, Sarah's got talent!' Seriously, you could review professionally - that's how good you are. (And don't be shaking your head, or pulling some face, just accept the fact - your skilled and for those of us who don't possess your talent with words and the ability to write, don't worry about us, we'll cry ourselves to sleep at night. Kinda: like this

  4. The whole nature vs nurture debate is one that I looove to get into. It's pretty interesting, though I firmly believe that there isn't any one solid or right answer. This book hasn't really appealed to me before, but you have this wonderful way with words and always manage to convince me. Lovely review, my dear!

  5. This sounds...deeply intriguing. I think it needs to go on my wishlist.

    Have you read I Hunt Killers? It's a bit different--less dark, perhaps--but still deals with a lot of the same issues. (And very good.)

  6. As someone who rescued a pit this year (or more accurately she rescued us), I love your opening analogy. LOVE it.

    This sounds bleak and heartbreaking. I can understand why this would be a hard review to write. So much of why I read is for joy and entertainment. However, that doesn't mean that a darker book isn't as "good" as a lighter read.

    I'm not sure that this is the book for me, but excellent review!

  7. Becca, this book was seriously amazing. I all but put a gun to Sarah's head to make her read it.

  8. Sam, I absolutely loved this book. I love writers who can tell a fantastic story in an amazing way without mincing words or drifting into purple prose. This book knocked my socks off. You should totally check it out.

  9. DUDE! Your review is awesome. I remember you telling me about it ages ago, it sounds really interesting but the way you've written your review is seriously like...polka dots.

  10. This sounds iiiiiintense! I don't think it's an 'Elena' sort of read but I liked your review a lot. I liked the idea of nature vs. nurture you brought up. Missed your face! xo

  11. I love that I always discover books I've never even heard of before on your blog, Sarah, and this is no exception. It sounds amazing and although I'm not sure it's totally for me, I like a lot of the ideas in it and might be tempted to check it out. Lovely review, dear! :)

  12. Hehe! I do, too, but it's apt!
    It's definitely one of those books you need to be in the right place for. VERY heavy.

  13. 'Intense' is TOTALLY the right word! It really was amazing. Definitely not light or fun or the kind of romance I normally go for, but totally AMAZING.

    Oh, you make me ASPLODE with the giggles. Thank you so much!

    "Hopefully I’ll read this eventually but for the time being, I need to focus on more lighter, fun reads and stories that aren’t so dark and gritty."

    I TOTALLY get what you mean. I need some more happy and bubbly in my life, especially after reading another of Kelley's books, Suicide Watch. They're both AMAZING, but I need them in moderated doses ;D

  15. Ha! That's even funnier in context of the opening chapter. At least you didn't make me write a suicide note :D

  16. Oh, Sam, EXACTLY. You nailed it: "The whole nature vs nurture debate is one that I looove to get into. It’s pretty interesting, though I firmly believe that there isn’t any one solid or right answer."

    YESSSS. I loved how Kelley handled it here, also, because she doesn't really provide answers. She asks questions and lets the reader answer, and I really think that is the BEST kind of book.

    To be honest, I wouldn't have read it on my own, but Brigid kind of forced me. I'm SO glad she did!
    Thank you! ♥♥♥

  17. A M A N D A! I thought of you often when I read this book. And, interestingly enough, IHK, though I haven't read it. It seemed like a YOU book.

    I'm SO intrigued by IHK--I still remember reading (and loving) your review.

  18. Oh, Tara, that's funny! I was actually talking about pits, but I wound up deleting the breed and keeping it more general. We met the most beautiful pit bull in the street the other day and he was such a sweet natured little charmer. I hate the idea that anyone could label a breed of dog (or any animal, for that matter), as innately 'bad', or similar.
    SO happy you chose a rescue pup. All our cats have been rescues and they're the light of our lives. It's so beautiful watching them come out of their shells ♥

    ANYWAY. The book is SO heavy and dark. But. It was extraordinary. Fair call on not being 'your' type of book. TBH, I read it because a friend MADE me. I'm kind of glad she did, though :D

  19. Eeee! Thank you! It really is amazing. Brigid made me read it, and I'm SO glad I did.

    WHOA :O

  20. ELENA! Seriously, I've missed yours :O

    Seriously, Hushed is AMAZING, but yeah, I can accept it not being everyone's cup of tea.

    TALKING OF ELENA CUPS OF TEA: Lauren just read Eleanor and Park and LOVED it, and I couldn't stop thinking of you every time she mentioned it ^__^

  21. Eeep, Keertana, thank you! Seriously, I feel exactly the same way about yours, so that means a lot coming from you ♥

    I can TOTALLY pay this not being right for everyone, but it really is AMAZING!

  22. Fantastic review, Sarah! I'm actually waiting on my own copy to arrive, as Brigid also recommended it to me. But after your review, I'm a little worried. Is this book going to leave me depressed? Is it? Because I need books with some highs! I can't take too much depression. Hence why I've yet to read a book about someone who self-harms, I just don't think I can handle all that melancholy. I will read this, obviously, but I will pick it up tentatively now. Lol. Thanks for the awesome review, Sarah!

  23. Thanks for the awesome review, Sarah!

    huggs the sadness away from saz. i agree it was hard writing my review as well. this book is has something. huggs againj

  24. I really enjoyed reading this review, Sarah, and it sounds like you had a really interesting experience with it. I think this would be a definte no for me- I would be utterly paranoid and unable to cope with the subject, even the idea of some of the things that you say happen make me uncomfortable, but I'm glad you found it interesting, if not enjoyable. (:

  25. This does sound like quite a dark story and like there is so much going on plot-wise.

    And good on your dad! It makes me sad/mad when people shame certain breeds when the fault lies on humans (doesn't it always?)

  26. Ugh, whhhhhhyyyyyy have I not finished this book yet? I got it for review when it was first released, then life got in the way, and now your praise and Brigid's are making me all harumphy that I've dragged me feet on this book for so long!

    Your review is...amazing, Sarah. Thank you for writing about tricky subjects with such thoughtfulness and sensitivity. Now if you could just give me a swift kick in the pants to get me started on this....

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  27. Jo, I personally thought this book was amazing in seeing Archer change and redeem himself, especially after the violence and despicable acts. I didn't find it depressing at all.

  28. Thanks for this review. I put Hushed on a wishlist long ago because the blurb intrigued me, but I never heard much about whether the book was good or not from people I trusted. I'm still intrigued, but know I'll have to be in the right mindset for this one.



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