Review: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Echols’s writing tends to be a bit hit or miss with me, and while this one went far to make up for the undelivered promise of Echols’s previous book, Love Story, it never lived up to the promise set by the tone of her early releases. For me, this book read far too much like a dramatized version of Echols’s own Endless Summer omnibus. Yet whereas that story at least benefitted from a lighthearted summer tone and the oft-overused but never old “friends turned more” trope, Such a Rush is bogged down with an overly somber storyline and under-developed characters.

My dad is a pilot, so I couldn’t help but approach much of this novel with a skeptical bird on my shoulder, wondering just how much research Echols conducted regarding being a pilot. Granted, I know next to nothing on the subject myself, so I’m in no position to criticize, and I in fact applaud her for finding a new backdrop that hasn’t already been explored to death in young adult literature. I usually go into an Echols novel prepared to meet teen characters who live a grittier

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

existence than I have ever endured, and Such a Rush is no exception. Leah is trying hard to defy the trailer-park stereotypes, with no help from her deadbeat mother and financial hardships. I liked that Echols allowed Leah to be sexy to a fault, with her unknowing adoption of a sexual persona as a survival mechanism characterizing her while not defining her. Too often, female characters are pushed to the ends of the sexual spectrum; one false step in either direction will land them in spinster or slut territory. Leah is neither; she’s learned from her experiences and, refreshingly, acknowledges that they impact her decision-making presently. Still, while I never disliked Leah, I can’t say that I particularly liked her either. She’s unoffensive, yet also rather unmemorable. One thing I applaud Echols for is her inclusion of a female friend who, gasp, has agency in her own right. She’s not plopped in the background as a mere decoration or foil, and while her involvement in the story never overshadows Leah’s spot front-and-center, it nevertheless has ramifications broader than jealousy, guilt, or other shallow emotions that female best friends so often fulfill.

I wouldn’t say that Such a Rush has a love triangle, precisely. To be honest, I have a hard time defining the romance in this novel, which might represent an attribute, as Echols clearly is attempting to resist the typical format. I don’t think she was as successful as she hoped to be, though. Such a Rush never gave me the euphoric feelings the title implies. I wasn’t invested in Leah and Grayson’s relationship because it consisted of too much antagonism with too little sentiment to balance it out. I love love-hate relationships, but I never got enough push-back here. Oddly enough, I might have preferred for Leah and Grayson to be a little more hostile to each other, as at least I could have approximated that as some form of passion. Grayson’s insistence that Leah try to seduce his brother was offered flimsy justification at the end, and it didn’t serve to provide enough tension during the majority of the book. This might be partly due to the fact that I felt both brothers needed to be fleshed out more. Echols relies too heavily on physical descriptions to fill in for personality traits, yet they are not proxies for each other. I’ll admit that Echols threw in a twist that I didn’t see coming, but as far as twists go, it was rather tame and resolved too quickly.
I enjoyed Such a Rush, yet a few months from now, I doubt I’ll be able to recall much of it.  Echols could have pushed further and produced a story on par with Going Too Far or Forget You, but as it is, Such a Rush fails to measure up.
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