Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: Dystopia, New Adult, Romance
Lila's dystopian America is dark and gloomy. After a disastrous, merciless civil war, her town is on the losing side and as a result, she faces the fear of rape and abuse as a form of retaliation. With the recruiting ceremony approaching, a ceremony that will define whether she'll become a sex slave by force and during which the possibilities of heinous crimes are extremely high, Lila desides to lose her virginity. To stop being the V Girl. But nothing goes as planned, and instead of seducing her best friend she meets the mysterious Aleksey, a gorgeous man that scares and fascinates her. Will Lila manage to survive unscathed in a world where violence is the law? What if she loses not only her innocence, but also her heart?
“You usually can’t recall all the people you’ve shared laughs with. But you rarely forget the people you’ve shared your tears with.”
The V Girl is not for the faint-hearted. Through raw brutality, and acts of depravity, it imparts some powerful messages about sexual freedom, the objectification of women and their treatment as vessels of pleasure, rape and the meaning of consent. You are the only person entitled to your body. No means no. There are no alibis, no excuses, and it is never the victim's fault when someone takes advantage of his strength and muscular superiority to commit abominable crimes. The content may be hard to stomach. There were graphic scenes that affected me both emotionally and physically; I had to swallow the bile rising in my throat, and struggle to breathe. Mya Robarts managed to provoke strong emotions, to capture the cruelty of human race by creating a rape culture where sexual assault is legal but consensual sex is treated as something punishable, and I can't help but commend her for choosing such a delicate subject and treating it with the respect if deserves. The V Girl was thought-provoking to say the least. Setting this aside, though, it could definitely use some polishing.
The world-building was weak and muddy. We are told about a civil war that has divided America, and the sex slavery as its outcome, but that's it. I would have expected the author to elaborate further on the causes of such war, to explain the customs and mindset of the people of Starville and the rest of the country, to delve into this civilization. The information was scarce and not particularly well-presented, and I kept feeling disoriented. I suspect that this lack of detail concerning the world-building is probably on purpose since this book is not intended to deliver action or politics, but I think a little more expansion to this regard would be beneficial. Further to the above, my feelings towards Lila were lukewarm at most. I admire and respect the fighter in her, and her need for self-preservation, but that's all. I found her way of dealing with her mother's fate a little perverted, and I cringed whenever she returned to this habit. And unfortunately, she was solely focused on sex. I can justify it to a point, when there are major chances you'll get raped at any time or get recruited and spend the rest of your life as sex slave it's only natural to frequently contemplate it, but in Lila's case it never left her mind. I would have liked more depth in her relationship with her family, the tragic experience of her past, but instead I got raging hormones and repeated attempts at seduction. I didn't feel the coming of age vibe much, with the exception of the last chapters.
Mya Robarts's goal is to raise her voice against rape and slut-shaming, to support gender equality and I think that she partially achieved it. After all, I finished The V Girl rather quickly because I was curious to find out what would happen next, and I was invested to characters like Aleksey and Lila's siblings. But in the end, I was left a little unsatisfied and underwhelmed. Nonetheless, The V Girl is a girl that will stay with me for a while.
*A complimentary copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*