Review: Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

(I told y’all I had a lot of reviews coming your way. I received an early copy of Drowning Is Inevitable from Random House in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Trigger warning: mentions of abuse and suicide.)

“I think you’ve heard what happened. Most people have. We made national news. You don’t know the truth, though. The newspapers didn’t tell the whole story.”

Drowning Is Inevitable, chapter 1

Welcome to Drowning Is Inevitable, which is dark and intense and really freaking sad. This book follows seventeen-year-old Olivia, who has grown up in small-town Louisiana with the shadow of her mother’s suicide hanging over her; her best friend Jamie, whose family sucks about as much as Olivia’s; Maggie, the local free spirit; and Max, Olivia’s on-again-off-again boyfriend. A terrible tragedy bonds these four friends-then-fugitives together in a dark, twisted adventure with a shocking ending. I give Drowning Is Inevitable 6.5/10 stars for the stellar relationships, fairly relatable characters, and overall intensity.

Things I Liked:

  • The strength of Olivia’s and Jamie’s friendship is incredible. I just loved them a lot.
  • The writing matches the story really well. To me, it seemed plain, but its simplicity, moodiness, and darkness fit together with the plot like weird puzzle pieces. The writing also feels almost detached emotionally; the author describes more events and actual happenings rather than overusing flowy metaphors about pain, which worked really well. Add in several quotes that stood out to me, and I ended up liking the overall writing.
  • The setting is really great! Even though I grew up in Atlanta and not a small town in Louisiana, I could relate to a lot of the Southern traditions, charm, and heat mentioned throughout the book.
  • I like that Olivia’s relationship with her mom weaves in with the plot rather than being the plot in its entirety.
  • It’s a good sad book. I read a lot of sad books with sad endings and characters who are pretty messed up. Angst is my friend. Think Looking for Alaska (minus a lot of the humor) or We Were Liars. If that’s what you’re looking for, I highly recommend Drowning Is Inevitable.

Things I Didn’t Like:

  • Drowning Is Inevitable is, like I said, a good sad book, but nothing stands out to me about it or makes me want to shout out from the rooftops that I would marry it if I could. I try to save 9 or 10 stars for books that absolutely blew me away. Drowning Is Inevitable was certainly a great and worthwhile read, but to me, it just wasn’t that extra level of phenomenal.

Things About Which I Have Conflicting Feelings:

  • Olivia’s and Max’s relationship is so. frustrating. On the one hand, this makes it seem more realistic: he doesn’t solve all of her problems for her because he can’t, no matter how hard he tries. On the other hand, I just wanted them to kiss and make up already.

Favorite Character:

  • My favorite character for this book goes to Maggie! This is entirely because of the line, “No one matched the sheer velocity with which she approached life.” Maggie is a phenomenal secondary character, complete with a lot of support for Olivia, individual talents, and her own tragic backstory. Like Olivia says in chapter 2, “Everyone needed a Maggie.”

That’s it for Drowning Is Inevitable! Thank you to Random House for the advanced copy. Hope you enjoyed this review!

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