Sometimes a writing style will set the entire tone of a novel without the author realising it. Stephen King for instance (although, he definitely realises it), has perfected the short sentences for tension and long extending paragraphs to slowly creep up your spine and we immediately know we're reading a horror. Kate Reed Petty (KRP) wants to throw caution to the wind and get us reading outside the comfort zones, making us realise the clichés of writing and who tells us the story can definitely influence how we feel about characters, plot and setting.
Plots involving sexual assault will always make you feel uncomfortable but KRP approaches it in a totally new approach, by using the viewpoint of an enabler alongside that of the abused. The narrative straight away approaches the attitudes of teenagers toward sexual assault and the "boys will be boys" excuse for abuse and KRP executes an infuriating few chapters that will (should) anger everyone. At this point it is totally acceptable to produce those emotions of your readers, it is the sign of good writing to produce a reaction like that, but as the novel progresses the tension never dissipates and for me that made this a long slug of a read.
Whilst the changing genres did the job they needed to by raising our expectations of that narrative KRP changes our perceptions and writes something that we would never expect to come from that kind of genre. Sexual assault novels are always going to be a difficult read and even more difficult to review but this never completely resonated with me. There was so much focus on the genre and style of writing that I feel the story lost out on coming across as strongly as it could have.
Alice's ending redeemed the book as a whole for me. Nick's narrative was a bit patchy and difficult to follow due to the changing layout and writing style and the story itself wasn't done justice because of it. Alice was a wonderful character and really is a strong comment on how traumatised women can recover but as a whole this book could have made a stronger comment.