Hello everyone! I’m currently taking a break from my usual high fantasy novels and diving into a few contemporary reads. While I had intended on renting a few light-hearted e-books from the library to escape from my current stress and anxiety, I was somehow drawn to Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. It’s a dark, gritty tale of addiction, sports injuries, and secrecy, and I’ll preface this post with a major TW for realistic drug usage.
That being said, let’s dive into my review of Heroine.
About the Book
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: YA Contemporary
POV: 1st Person
Page Count: 419 pages
Release Date: 3/12/19
Synopsis: When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.
The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.
With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.
But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
- Gritty, realistic, and intensely personal (probably due to the fact that it’s narrated from a 1st person narrator, so we’re in her head 24/7
- Shows a different perspective on drug usage (In this case, her addiction started simply from taking prescribed medication for an injury.)
- Very Gripping (I was up for hours reading this one last night!)
- The opening chapter (also a con)
- The pacing was a bit off at times (while I feel that everything in the novel was necessary, I wanted to see more of the ending, and less of some other scenes.)
- Many of the side characters felt flat and didn’t get as developed as much as they could have been.
- Sometimes I didn’t even feel connected to the main character, despite it being from her POV.
- The opening chapter (also a pro)
My, oh my, where do I even begin with a book like Heroine? It’s darker and grittier than any book I’ve read in recent years. It’s the type of book that lingers with you after you’ve finished, because it’s just that heavy.
I want to greatly commend Mindy McGinnis for writing such a novel. I think that she really tackled the subject in the way that it needed to be tackled: gritty, rough, and intensely realistic. There’s no sugarcoating addiction here (although our protagonist tries to justify her addiction at several points throughout the novel.) We see Mickey’s clear downfall in this novel, all from her point of view. We get her reasons, rationalizations, and her reactions to the various highs she gets from her drug usage.
However, despite being in Mickey’s head for the duration of the novel (it’s told from her POV) there were often times when I felt disconnected from her. Perhaps its because our interests vary greatly (I’m not an athlete, nor have I ever done drugs) but during some of the moments that should have been more anxiety-inducing (like when she’s in danger of being caught) and I didn’t really feel anything. Normally I can empathize with characters but I couldn’t connect with her for some reason. Maybe it’s because the story starts with the car accident, and we don’t really get to see her as a clean athlete before everything starts to go down, so maybe it’s because we don’t get that complete character arc.
The last thing I want to talk about before I wrap up this review is the first chapter. It’s a striking one, for sure. *Minor Spoilers (though it’s literally the first chapter)* The novel begins with Mickey discovering that her friends are all dead, having overdosed on heroin. This chapter truly begins between chapter 48 and 49, where it fits in contextually. I thought that this way of starting the novel was both very effective (it’s INCREDIBLY gripping and intense and shows a point that we’ll eventually get to) but at the same time, I feel like it sort of tips the novel’s hand early. We know who’s going to die, and who’s going to survive. Also, at that point in the novel, I had no reason yet to care about who these dead people were, or Mickey’s reaction to their deaths. I reread the chapter between chapters 48 and 49 and felt like if anything, it should have be reprinted there for clarity and continuity.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed Heroine. Fans of darker contemporary novels or books like the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins or Go Ask Alive will definitely enjoy this novel. I’ll give it 4 stars, subtracting 1 for pacing and character issues.
Thank you for reading! Have you read Heroine? Let me know in the comments!
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