White Rabbit — Caleb Roehrig (ARC Review)

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

 

TITLE: White Rabbit

AUTHOR: Caleb Roehrig

RELEASES: April 24th, 2018; Feiwel & Friends

GENRE: Thriller

AGE RANGE: YA

SYNOPSIS: Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.

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DNF @ ~150pg

If it tells you anything about how severely I disliked this book, I only got a little over 100 pages into it and I had a literal full PAGE of bullet points for things that I found to be nonsensical, annoying, or downright unhealthy.

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I wanted so, so badly to love this book. There are so few own-voice gay books in the world that, when I saw this on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and was ecstatic when I got my approval. Plus, the fact that it was a thriller, and judging by the title, had some relation to an Alice retelling? Yes! This book was supposed to be perfect!

Unfortunately, it completely bombed for me, right from the beginning. It starts off with an incredibly unhealthy portrayal of a relationship, as the main character gushes and raves about how his ex-boyfriend (of a whopping month-long relationship) completed him:

“I was like a violin—an object that hasn’t much purpose until someone touches it, fills it with resonance, draws things from it that it can never produce on its own. Sebastian had been the one to draw music from me, and it’s why the end was so bad; before him, I’d never actually realized how painful the silence was.”

Can we please stop writing YA books that tell teens – of any sexuality or gender identity – that their significant others should complete them and bring meaning into their previously dismal, hopeless lives? It’s like Twilight all over again, I swear.

The unhealthy portrayals continue as we learn that the ex-boyfriend/love interest is a black bisexual teen boy who is depicted in some of the worst possible lights. He not only flirted incessantly with other people while dating the protagonist and remained best friends with a group of kids who constantly beat Rufus up, but he then proceeded to ghost the poor kid so that he could go crawling back to his ex-girlfriend. The entire character arc for Sebastian (the ex-boyfriend) is gross. Not to mention, in the first 1/2 of the book (which is roughly what I read), his entire purpose is just a plot device – there’s very little dialogue on his end at all, and he honestly just feels like a prop.

The final straw for me, however, was how unrealistic many of the events (past and present) were. Rufus is abused constantly at school, to the point of broken bones over and over again, but nobody ever steps in, including his mother (which would make more sense if she was written as a neglectful parent, but she’s actually a very loving figure). There are discussions of legal matters between Rufus’ parents that make no sense at all and make it very evident that no substantial research went into the laws behind these topics.

If you’re looking for a queer YA thriller and don’t mind complete suspension of disbelief while you read it, I would say maybe check this out, but otherwise, there are many better books in the world for you to spend your time and money on.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Feiwel & Friends for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

1flower

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

8 thoughts on “White Rabbit — Caleb Roehrig (ARC Review)

  1. Aw no I’m sad to see you ended dnfed it. I have this on my list of books I’m really excited for. I put a hold on it from the library so I shall see what I think when that comes in.

    Like

  2. Wow. I can see why you DNF this one. I’m glad I didn’t add this to my tbr as I think I would have some of the same issues. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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