Review: Rikki (Hart University #1) by Abigail Strom

Rikki (Hart University Book 1) - Abigail Strom

Initial reaction: How in fresh heck do I write a review on this book? I'll need a full night to meditate on my thoughts, but I'll give all of you some precursory details.

I actually thought there were many great parts of this book and it proved to be a very quick read - I read this in a matter of a couple of hours, I think. Plus I found some of the interactions and inclusions refreshing to read, which were direct knockdowns of a lot of New Adult stereotypes. Kudos to Abigail Strom for addressing them and even being responsible for addressing the conflicts themselves via the characters' dialogue.

But then the latter half of the book, I felt, tried to throw in too much, especially given the quick nature of the style and dictation this had from the beginning. I could get behind some of the occurrences, I could definitely feel for them, but some of it was overload.

Still, I'm in for following this series and the rest of the author's works.

Full review:

"Rikki" was a breath of fresh air in New Adult on many levels. I really liked how fluid the writing and interactions were (it took me only a couple of hours to read through it). I loved how it made me laugh at some of the banter between characters (Rikki and Alex had moments that left me doubled over in stitches laughing). I also. really appreciated that it incorporated a diversity of different characters and seemed to knock down many New Adult stereotypes. Rikki's parents were a lesbian couple who had prominent featuring in the book, Rikki herself was a sex-positive young woman who didn't believe in slut shaming (none of the characters did, to think of it), and even with this book dealing a lot with jealousy factors, for many places in the narrative, it handled it much better than I thought it would. I could probably credit Abigail Strom for dealing with all the conflicts in this novel in a plausible, open dialogue way that gave good insight into the motivations of the characters.

If there were a couple of caveats I would say that made me knock a few stars from the overarching experience, I'd say two things.

1. The novel's aide in its fluidity and brevity might've also been its Achilles Heel, because I think I would've easily given this higher stars if the narrative had a little more flesh to it. The college environment was realistic, the interests of the characters were too. I especially liked the dialogue and how it flowed, but I still felt like the characters themselves only scratched the surface of having depth enough to care about fully for me to identify with them. It's a good start to a series though, and I expect I'll get to know these characters more as the series goes on. I have some investment in them. Probably the most investment came with the two leads - what it was supposed to do, but a little more dimension to the side characters would've made this more fun as well.

2. I think the latter part of this novel threw too many curveballs/eggs against the wall. I mean, I expected to be frustrated with the sexual tension between the two leads and some other conflicts that were occurring around them (which felt realistic and palpable, I'm not saying none of this is realistic at all). I even expected that the heroine would be asked to grapple with some tough coming to terms. While all the conflicts were addressed in a way that felt conversational and aired things out in the open, in the last 40% of the novel it all felt like it was way too fast to digest and piled on more than I could really process. The flow of the first part of the novel was progressive and even, but it felt like the latter part disrupted the flow a bit.

And for personal peeves: I did have issues with the panty thing, and probably that's just my own level of discomfort within a novel that had uncomfortable moments, but at least it addressed that issue too. Although (slight spoiler):

I honestly would've thought the heroine would be more freaked out that Sam, as her childhood rival, would steal a pair of underwear from the drawer in her room and would use that to...get off (because I might as well air that term for it). She was okay with it when she found out because she thought "Oh, he thinks I'm hot" and he confirms "Yeah, it's because I really liked you and didn't want to admit it." (paraphrased to some extent).

But the fact he stole her underwear without her knowing and used it for that still creeps me the heck out. I mean, if it'd been someone she didn't know, she'd label him a perv. Let's be real. And he stole her underwear from her drawer when she hadn't been in her room. (She walks in on him looking flustered after he meets her in her room in a scene before they head off to university.) Privacy and personal space violation, guys. That in itself isn't so far away from what some New Adult cliches would champion: "Oh, you did this totally inappropriate thing - that's okay, because I think you're hot." So some parts of this novel - at least in that regard - didn't stray too far from the cliche. Uggggh.

(show spoiler)

But this novel had fun moments and some building blocks that were steps in decent directions, so I have to give it credit for that. I'm definitely reading more of Strom's work, and this series, to get more accustomed to her style, because I like the flow, dialogue, and bits of the humor in her writing.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.