Review: Going Under by S.Walden - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Review: Going Under by S.Walden

Powerful. Raw. Heart-breaking. Honest. Daring. Unforgiving. Hopeful. Beautiful.
An unforgettable read full of feeling.

Going Under Ebook

  • Stars: 4.5 stars.
  • Main Characters: Brooke Wright and Ryan Foster
  • Genre: New Adult


Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence.)

My Review:

I knew this book would be gritty and powerful, but you have to read it and experience to feel all this book has to offer. The book builds, slowly escalating to parts that shocked me, tore me apart and had me in tears. When I finished, I was speechless, having trouble processing the story and how I felt. It’s so raw, like a painful open wound that refuses to close.

“A righteous anger flared in me immediately, and just like that, I discovered a purpose. My purpose. It flooded me instantly, a great wave slamming into my mind and my heart, carrying with it the courage and conviction of my newly formed plan… And I transformed into the predator. He just didn’t know it yet. He thought I was the prey, and I’d let him.”

18-year-old Brooke Wright is devastated after the suicide of her best friend, Beth. Starting her senior year in high school in a new school, without Beth, she’s lost and the guilt she feels is torturous. Beth was raped and nobody knew … that is, nobody but Brooke. And then Beth killed herself. Brooke seeks to avenge Beth’s death, to atone for her own sins and betrayal.

Soon, she learns about a secret club at her school and the boy that raped Beth is wrapped up in it. And, that boys has his eyes on her.

“Secret club. Score sheet. Initiation. Sex with a virgin. What the hell was going on?”

Brooke is over her head. She feels she can control the situation. She feels she can play the players and get them back for what they did to Beth. Have there been more girls? She devises a plan to do this. It’s what she lives for, what she goes to school for, what she’s promised Beth she would do. But the more she tries to control the situation, the more she discovers, and the more control begins to slip.

“You think you have it all planned out. But something in you always surprises you and it’s a buzzing undercurrent that keeps you silently guessing until your picture is complete.”

Her plan begins to blur and veer as she gets to know her neighbor and classmate Ryan… a beautiful and mysterious boy whom she’s attracted to, whom she wants to spend time with, but whom seems to hide secrets of his own. And for some reason, the boys in the sex club want nothing to do with Ryan.

“Most bad guys didn’t come across freaky and frightening, hiding in shadowed corners with insane grins plastered across their faces. Most bad guys were your normal, everyday guys moving through life like anyone else. Going to school. Going to work. Going to church, even. They were hard to spot, and that’s what made them so good at being bad.”

I don’t want to spoil any part of this powerful book. There are plot twists you don’t see coming, at least not the way it’s done. My heart was racing throughout, I was so afraid for Brooke and I wanted to shake some sense into her. Ryan is so mysterious, but so good to Brooke. And in the end, there is an HEA, but let me tell you there are parts that were so hard to read… I felt like I was torn wide open. Brooke’s powerful story is about so many things including forgiveness, accepting love and maybe most importantly, learning to let go. A poignant and moving read you should definitely pick up!


Buy Going Walden for Kindle / Nook / Smashwords


I left the bathroom in a hurry, turning the corner for the foyer and slamming into him. The force of the hit was so great that I stumbled backwards, nearly falling on my bottom if not for his outstretched hand. I grabbed it before going down and wobbled on my too-high heels, clutching him as I worked to regain my balance.

“God, I’m sorry!” he exclaimed.

I looked at his face then, unprepared to see something so beautiful. I think I gasped. And then I averted my eyes out of sheer embarrassment.

“I really should watch where I’m going,” he said.

He still held my hand, and I let him. I couldn’t remember who I was or where I was going. I couldn’t remember where I had just been. I only knew that a very cute boy . . . no, he was more than cute. He was gorgeous. This very gorgeous boy was holding my hand, and I had only one thought. I wanted to make our handholding more intimate. I wanted to lace my fingers with his.

“I think I should,” I mumbled.

I chanced another look at him. I made a conscientious effort not to gasp as I took in his light blue eyes. I’d never seen eyes that color. Jared Leto had nothing on this guy’s eyes, and Jared’s eyes were the color of the Mediterranean. No, the eyes I looked into now were so light blue they looked translucent. I thought if I stared a little longer I could see right inside his head, to his brain, and I don’t know why that turned me on so much. I wanted to witness the workings of his mind, the firing synapses, information traveling safely inside neurons to different parts of his body. A few made it to his hand, and they must have told him to keep holding mine because he didn’t let go.

I stared shamelessly, licking my lips at one point. He stared back just as boldly. I wanted him to like what he saw. I wanted him to think I was sexy. I wanted him to feel the same instant attraction I did. I’d never felt it before. Not really. Not even with Finn. It was unsettling, and I wondered how people functioned after being smacked upside the head with it. Instant. Physical. Chemical.


Just rip my clothes off, I thought. Just rip my clothes off and do me right here in the hallway!

He smiled and released my hand. I thought he did it reluctantly, like his brain ordered him to and he finally acquiesced. I smiled back, a flirty grin. I pulled my ponytail forward over my shoulder and played with the strands. I bit my lower lip. And then reality came crashing down like a hailstorm, large lumps of ice banging my head and screaming at me in unison.


I looked at the gorgeous guy, and my face went white.

“Oh my God,” I whispered.

He stared at me for a moment before saying, “Are you okay?”

I shook my head and started towards the sanctuary doors. He followed behind.

“I’m awful, I’m awful, I’m awful,” I whispered over and over. I didn’t care if he could hear.

What the hell was I doing? Trying to flirt with a guy at my best friend’s funeral? How could I even forget for a second that I was at a funeral? I was supposed to be carrying around heavy, black sorrow to match my black dress and black heart, not batting lashes and fantasizing about sex with a stranger. Was I so ridiculous that a hot guy could make me forget to have any kind of decency? Or shame?

I rounded the corner and saw my mother waiting for me. And then I ran to her, threw myself into her arms, and burst into a fit of tears.

“Brooklyn,” she whispered, holding me in a tight hug. “It’s okay,” she cooed as she stroked my hair.

“I’m a terrible friend!” I wailed. I saw the fuzzy outline of a boy walking past us tentatively through the doors.

“No, you aren’t,” my mother replied.

“Yes, I am! I don’t even know why I’m here! Beth hated my guts! She wouldn’t talk to me all summer!”

“Brooke,” Mom said. “I want you to calm down. Now, we talked about this. You knew it would be hard, but she was your best friend for all those years. Do you think she wouldn’t have wanted you here?”

“No, I don’t!” I cried.

“Yes, she would,” Mom said. “Now we have to go in.”

“I can’t!”

“Brooke, Beth was your best friend,” Mom said, trying for patience.

“No she wasn’t! Not after what I did! I ruined everything! I’m a freaking slut!” I sobbed, shaking my head from side to side.

“Sweetheart, don’t say words like ‘freaking’ and ‘slut’ in a church,” Mom replied.

I only sobbed louder.

“You can do this,” Mom encouraged.

I stood my ground, shaking my head violently, refusing to go in.

“Brooklyn Wright!” Mom hissed, pushing me away and grabbing my upper arm. She squeezed too tightly, and I squeaked in discomfort. There was no more tenderness in her voice. “Get yourself together. This isn’t about you. So stop making it about you. You’re going into that sanctuary and you’re going to pay your respects to your friend, and you’re going to make it about Beth. Do you understand me?”

I swallowed hard and wiped my face.

“Do you understand me?” Mom repeated.

I nodded grudgingly, and she took my hand, leading me through the doors.

About The Author:

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.

She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at and follow her blog at where you can get up-to-date information on her current projects.

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  1. james310 said:

    Thank you for the great giveaway.


  2. S. Walden said:

    Thanks so much for helping me promote Going Under. And thank you for such a thoughtful review of my book!

    xo Summer


    1. Vilma's Book Blog said:

      Thank you Summer for sharing such a moving and wonderful book with us! 🙂


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