Author: Roni O'Connell
Publication Date: December 8, 2014
Series: The Chronicles of D.E.A.D. High, book 2
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Age Recommendation: 16 and up
Rating: 4 Stars
Like burns, there are degrees of secrets. First-degree secrets are those that girls share with female friends under clouds of giggles and shushed voices, eyes bright, smiles flashing, with furtive glances to ensure that a certain boy doesn't overhear. First-degree secrets are relatively painless, subject to no worse than blushes or easy tears depending upon if that boy does or does not return feelings of affection. Second-degree secrets follow a person from her locker down the school halls—rolling eyes and pointed fingers marking her as surely as a painted X on her back. These secrets don’t leave scars, but injure nonetheless, deep inside where insecurities linger and fester, waiting to explode. The most serious secrets are third degree, just as third degree burns are the worst, leaving the scars, bumpy, pitted, and marred; these secrets irrevocably twist, disfigure, and ruin lives. I’ve had my share of second-degree secrets that I mostly try to ignore, but my third-degree secrets, well, those I hug to me in a fear born of basic survival instincts. My exterior is unblemished, white with blue veins, road maps traveling to foreign places beneath my skin, but inside, the terrain rises into mountains and ridges, scared, puckered, and ugly, un-crossable except by painful passage that I’m unwilling to take.
3rd Degree Secrets takes us back to the world of Evergreen High School, otherwise known for the Acronym D.E.A.D (Discipline, Excellence, Achieve, Distinction) on it's school marquee.
D.E.A.D High is a brutal environment full of cliques, bullying, and seemingly teachers and administrators that are more interested in just getting to the end of the day than the health of their schools environment. I have to say if this is what high school is like these days I am so very glad to consider my self an 'old lady'.
Thrown into the mix is a remarkable young lady who is fighting every day just to make it to graduation, to do well enough to escape a difficult home life, to escape from a world of invisibility and heartache. Kisten, not Kristen, is seemingly just an ordinary girl, the kind of girl that doesn't get noticed unless it's to be ridiculed by the 'cool' kids, or made an example of by one of the teachers. She's always been the kind of girl that went about her day just waiting until she could escape from it all. That is until the day the schools Junior/Senior best and worst list came out and her name was on it. Not only is she now getting noticed and not always for reasons she wants to be, but her secrets threatening to unravel around her, These aren't simple secrets, they are 3rd degree secrets. Secrets that burn her right down to her soul.
"I've had my share of second-degree secrets that I mostly try to ignore, but my third-degree secrets, well those I hug to me in a fear born of basic survival instincts. My exterior unblemished, white with blue veins, road maps traveling to forgein places beneath my skin, but inside, the terrain rises into mountains and ridges, scared, puckered, and ugly, uncrossable except by painful passage that I am unwilling to take," - Kisten
Roni O'connell once again brought her characters to life, she makes them believable. You ache for them, cry, laugh, scream, and in the end find your self even rooting for the protagonists. Why? Because she lets you see the people behind the masks they wear, she opens up everyone's secrets, their pain becomes ours leaving her readers breathless and pensive. While her books have a paranormal aspect to them (which you know is something I love) in the entire scope of her books it is a minor factor. There is a deeper meaning to her writing and it is to show us all that how we treat each other matters. That no one knows another persons pain until they choose to stop and ask questions, stop and truly listen, stop and find the compassion inside of ourselves instead of lashing out against those that are different or against things we do not understand.
Kisten is a beautiful character, she's a fighter, strong and caring. She humbled me on almost every page as she looked past the bullies and the rebels, as she fought to understand them, to let the pain they caused not pull her down, to not let the situations (either in school or at home) suffocate her. I struggled with some of her decisions, but when don't you struggle with choices a character makes. It is always easy for us readers to say we would have done things completely differently but then what would be the story. Every book needs conflict and resolution and Roni does it so well in this book.
Then there is Blaine. I loved Blaine, he's a genuinely good guy. I liked that he wasn't one of these bad boy, emo, bully teenagers. He is just a teenage guy, who does what a good portion of the teenage male community does. He doesn't make excuses for himself or others. He's been left in a situation that is challenging him to look at who he is and who he wants to be. He's no doubt a responsible teenager, but still a teenager and for him this book is about watching him grow into someone who is an amazing man.
"Rashelle tells me Kisten's been in our advanced classes all along since our freshman year, but I swear I never noticed her. The thing that got me was her eyes. Different colors - one silvery gray and the other a crystal blue, peering out as if she could see right through my bullshit and into the real me. Not that she pays me any attention, but when she happens to look my way, wow, just wow. She's all I can see or think about, even though I've had no luck in getting her to talk to me." - Blaine
If you are looking for a fast paced (not overly) YA with a paranormal aspect and a nice steady romance story line then this is a perfect read for you. This can be a pretty emotional read and is especially challenging at times if you have ever been the victim of bullying but don't shy away from it due to that. 3rd Degree Secrets is a book that will leave you thinking about the world around us, especially a world 'older' adults (like myself, haha) may sometimes have a difficult time understanding. I like to think that the world of D.E.A.D. High lands on the far side of extreme, but with everything we see in the news each day I wonder how close to home this book really hits, even if we place these situations into an adults life. The world around us is full of angry people, people who are bullies and the people who are fed up with it all. Roni puts it all out there and this is our chance to read her words and find the deeper meaning in them, find a way to show compassion, find a way to help society grow and become better.
While this book can be read as a stand alone I would suggest reading book one in the series first, Float. The main characters from Float make an appearance in this book and while they do not hugely impact the story understanding their story will help while you read 3rd Degree Secrets.
And don't forget it is free right now so snatch it up while you can!
5 Day Special:
Grab a copy of FLOAT for FREE this week only at Amazon. http://amzn.to/1u93prQ
About The Author:
Roni O’Connell lives with her husband and two dogs high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She finds inspiration in the forest, wildlife, and lakes around her home.A former English teacher, Roni enjoys the company of young adults, their spirited opinions, great enthusiasm, and outrageous humor.When Roni isn’t writing novels, you can find her hiking in the forest or contemplating the wonders of nature.
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