He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.
Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption. (summary from Goodreads)
Kelley York's Hushed is an intense and intoxicating story that is sure to resonate with all readers.
Archer has always loved Vivian, from the first moment they met as children. He'd do anything for her. He does do anything for her. His inability to protect Viv from a horrific event as children has eaten away at Archer for years, but he's determined to make it right. He's created a list of names of those responsible for hurting Viv, and one by one he's killing them. Maybe when they're dead Viv will feel safe and loved, enough to stop dating assholes and finally realise that Archer has been there all along and can be so much more than a friend to turn to when in need. But then Archer meets Evan, who sees Archer in a way Viv never has and wants to get to know him better. Evan opens Archer's eyes to what redemption can mean...if only he can let Viv go; a feat made all the harder when Vivian learns the truth about Archer and his list. As Vivian's behaviour becomes more erratic, everything that Archer could have with Evan is threatened. But how can he give up on her after everything?
From the first moment I heard about Hushed, I wanted to read it. The idea of an MC as a serial killer intrigued me...and worried me. Both for the same reason - would I be able to connect with such a character? The answer is a resounding yes, and cause for no worry at all. From beginning to end I felt for Archer. He's a character that is going to leave his mark on you. At times I found him chilling, the way he was so rational about his actions, but while I couldn't agree with him I most certainly could understand his motivations. I can't even begin to imagine living through what he had. But for all of his rationality in his planning and execution, there was never any rationalising. Though that might not make sense, I'm unsure how else to explain it. Archer never lies to himself. He knows what he's done and what that makes him. And I think that's why you can't help but to feel for and like Archer. Reading through his point of view makes Hushed everything it is.
It isn't only Archer's story though, and York sure has created a stand out and unforgettable cast. I fell in love with Evan immediately! The way he connives to meet and to talk to Archer is so cute and endearing, as he is. Evan is also smart, loyal, honest, capable and grounded. What drew me to him is my connection to what he posed for Archer. Evan is everything I felt I wanted for and wanted to give to Archer as I read his story. I had hope for Archer and Evan could see that in him. I wanted to help Archer and Evan could. Where I realised the toxic nature of Viv, so too could Evan. I also found it refreshing that Evan could see the possibility of him becoming to Archer what Archer is to Vivian. His level-headedness was much needed and really balanced both Archer and the story.
Where on the other end of the spectrum is Vivian. Truth is, I neither hate or love Viv. I didn't quite like her...but I certainly felt for her. She is, bluntly and simply, a manipulative bitch. She drives Archer's story, but in the same vain I don't blame her entirely. I liked that the nature of her and Archer's relationship is something he clearly recognises as toxic, but wants so much to ignore it. Viv's story is harrowing and tragic, made all the worse as I couldn't stop the 'what ifs'. As her and Archer's truth is revealed I just kept wondering what if this or what if that happened. It kills me to ponder the lost potential for something else entirely. Certainly it isn't fair and in the end it's just sad. For me, there's no villain in Hushed, and it's a compelling point of York's narrative that these characters are so obviously just human and messed up. There's no quick fix, as there isn't in life.
The story is definitely the characters and their relationships, and it packs an emotional wallop! Touching on subjects such as murder, rape, drug use, abuse, there's no doubt Hushed qualifies as dark fiction. I don't know if it's a book for the light-hearted, but it's also not one to be missed for such a reason. Out of darkness comes light, right? The beauty of Hushed is that light. The romance between Archer and Evan is stunning and heartfelt, and definitely my favourite thing about this book. As bad as things get - and there are some seriously terrifying and explicit events throughout Hushed - there's also hope. I know I for one was scared out of my wits thinking about the ways York could choose to end it, almost to the point that I didn't want to finish it. I'm glad I did. I loved this book and I believe it's a story no one should miss out on.
Hushed is a riveting read, edgy, wholly real, and completely relatable. This one will stick with you forever.
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Published date: 6 December 2011
Many thanks to Stacey O'Neale and Entangled Publishing.
Challenges: 2011 Debut Author Challenge; 2011 YA Contemporary Challenge;