Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

Professional Reader

I received a free e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

Wrecked is the extremely thought provoking story of a sexual assault told from the point of view of the friends of the victim and the perpetrator. The story flips back and forth between each side so that you get a balanced portrayal of the situation. At first, you’re not exactly sure what has happened but as the book goes on, the “real” story (told through flashbacks from the victim) slowly unfolds. This kept me guessing about what actually happened right up until the end.

I wouldn’t say that the content made for an enjoyable read but this is definitely an important book for young people – particularly as it isn’t too graphic so could be more suitable for a younger audience than similar books. Don’t get me wrong, there rape is detailed but in an objective manner and we are spared from some of the more distressing details.

The novel would be a great educational aid as it clearly illustrates the issue of consent and the way that two people can have entirely different recollections of the same experience. It also shows how many different people can have a measure of blame in a sexual assault case – not just the perpetrator but the friends who left the victim on her own, the people who encouraged her to drink an unknown substance, her fellow students who victim shamed her online, the mind set of guys who think any girl at a notorious frat party is there for one reason only…all the elements are explored throughout the course of the story.

I thought that the book could have run the risk of being a bit preachy but it didn’t. There was a nice section where a sexual consent adviser did a talk which reinforced the educational value of the story without detracting from the flow of the narrative.

I personally haven’t experienced anything like the situation in question (thank God) but I imagine that the way the situation was handled once it had been reported to the college would be very similar. The book gives a real insight into how hard it is to prove rape when it’s one person’s word against the other and how limited and unprepared a lot of educational institutions are for investigating this type of complaint.

In the book, the female victim is portrayed as mousey and intellectual. I do wonder if the author was a little too obvious in their choice of victim and aggressor- if the girl who was assaulted had been a notorious party girl would this have added an extra dimension to the victim shaming aspect?

The only thing that I didn’t like about this book is the love story between the friends of the perpetrator and victim. I felt that it didn’t really go anywhere and was a bit of a let down. I’m not quite sure why it was included? For light relief from the complex main story? To appeal to a YA readership? I didn’t think that it added anything and in places got quite boring. 

I don’t want to give too much away but the ending is disappointing – although probably true to life. This made me really angry. I would have preferred some kind of confrontation so that the victim could have showed the perpetrator exactly what effect he had on her life. 

In summary, I thought that Wrecked was a really thought provoking and enlightening book, filled with the complexities of a sexual assault case which kept you guessing the details right to the end. I would definitely recommend it to a YA audience as a starting point for a discussion about consent and the wider issues around sexual assaults.

Overall rating 7/10.

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