Book Title:
Book Author:
Zac Brewer
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
September 19th, 2017
Date Read:
September 15th, 2017
eARC from publisher via Edelweiss - Thank you!


New York Times bestselling author Zac Brewer delivers his most honest and gripping novel yet, about a girl who believes she’s beyond saving—until she realizes the only person who can save her is herself.

Brooke Danvers is pretending to be fine. She’s gotten so good at pretending that they’re letting her leave inpatient therapy. Now she just has to fake it long enough for her parents and teachers to let their guard down. This time, when she's ready to end her life, there won’t be anyone around to stop her.

Then Brooke meets Derek. Derek is the only person who really gets what Brooke is going through, because he’s going through it too. As they start spending more time together, Brooke suddenly finds herself having something to look forward to every day and maybe even happiness.

But when Derek’s feelings for her intensify, Brooke is forced to accept that the same relationship that is bringing out the best in her might be bringing out the worst in Derek—and that Derek at his worst could be capable of real darkness.

My Review

Trigger Warning!

Before I start off on my review of this book, I want to point out that it deals with things such as depression, cutting/self-harm, and suicide attempts.  If that’s something that may be a trigger for you, please read with these things in mind. 

In the very beginning of this book, the author writes a note that mentions that there are trigger worthy things in this book – things that are important to keep an eye out for if you have suffered through or are currently dealing with any of these things, such as self-harm, depression, and suicide.  I think this was a wonderful thing to include in the book, as well as the resources that you can contact if you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide.  I’ve read so many books that actually fail to include these things in them for readers, so this was a wonderful way to start the book, instead of adding it in at the end or not at all.

As someone who has suffered with depression and self-harm as a teenager and early on in my adult life, I wanted to read this book because it sounded incredibly powerful and important.  A lot of books will skirt around the tough topics – it takes a truly brave author to actually dive into the life of a character who deals with these things on a regular basis, but it gives a raw and gripping view into what their struggle is like.  For this, I fully applaud author Zac Brewer, and I believe that he has done a wonderful job in creating this novel.

“‘Depression’s a bitch, isn’t it?’ I said.  ‘Almost as much as life.'”

Brooke Danvers is recovering from a suicide attempt.  She has just spent six weeks as a patient in a hospital, being watched, getting therapy, and having people constantly make sure she is doing better so that she can go home.  Brooke has been suffering from depression for a very long time, and she thinks that the one way that she can escape the suffering she is going through is to take her own life.  Only this time, when she is released, she is determined not to fail.

Placed under constant supervision by her parents, teachers, and her best friend, Duckie, Brooke is desperately trying to figure out how she can escape her own life so she no longer has to feel that lingering pain.  She tries to fake her way through her therapy treatments, takes the antidepressants prescribed to her, and works her way through each and every day, trying her hardest to make everyone believe that she is okay, all the while contemplating how she is going to follow through with her task.

“I’d faked my way through six weeks of treatment with all the right words to all the right people.  I’d convinced them all that I was in full-on recovery mode after what happened six weeks ago.  But it was a lie.  I was just trying to get out of that place, away from those white, sterile walls, even t hough I had no idea what it would be like once I did.”

And then she meets Derek.

Derek knows what Brooke is going through from the very first conversation they have, and from then on, Brooke is obsessed with him, falling in love with him quickly, and finding him as the reason she is starting to look on the more positive side of life, despite her therapist telling her that she needs a reason other than him to continue to move onward so she can heal.  Brooke quickly realizes that she wants to be with Derek forever, and she starts lying to her parents and her friends so she can spend more and more time with him, even though everyone else thinks that he is bad news.

“‘When someone’s mad, truly mad, they lose control of themselves.  They live in another state of mind – somewhere that you can only really understand if you’ve been there before.’  He shrugged.  ‘It’s the same way with love.'”

When Derek starts to become somewhat controlling – lashing out at other guys for even talking to Brooke, trying to spend every second of the day with her, even if she has plans with her friends – Brooke still tries to hold onto t he fact that they can work things out and that Derek is a good guy.  But there is something darker behind his motives, and eventually Brooke has to find out the hard way what his plans for the two of them are.

This review is really hard for me to write because the story itself was well told and amazingly written, and it really does a brilliant job discussing the serious topics that I mentioned above.  At the same time, I found myself not caring too much for the actual main character of the book, as I felt that she lacked any kind of defining personality or character traits that allowed me to feel any kind of emotions toward her.  I couldn’t connect to her at all, and for that reason, I found myself liking her best friend, Duckie, way more than I liked her.  I disliked her attitude toward her parents, the way she talked to them, and the way that she treated her best friend.  I understand that she was dealing with a lot of things, including a new boyfriend, a failed suicide attempt, therapy, etc., but I also just thought she was mean.  Normally I kind of like a character with a bit of an attitude, but in this case, it felt so out of place that I just ended up thinking that she, as the main character of the book, felt a bit unlikable.

The story itself is a powerful one that I really think has a lot of character development in it.  Even though I didn’t care much for Brooke’s character, I love the way that the author has her character develop and grow from the beginning of the book through the end.  Since I love any book with plenty of positive character growth, I found myself really fond of the way her character pushed past all of the negativity going on in her life.  This is a great way to show anyone that even though times can seem incredibly dark at times, there is always something worth holding on for, even if it doesn’t seem it.  That kind of positive message needs to be heard, so again, I applaud the author for his work on this book.

“Life can be really beautiful.  Even if happiness is a fragile thing, it’s worth fighting for.”

Madness puts a huge emphasis on the importance of each individual in the world, and allows you to walk away with a feeling that you really do matter, despite what may be going on in your life.

3.5 stars
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