Friday 6 April 2012

Review: Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year by Justin Ordonez (Novel Publicity Whirlwind Tour stop)

from goodreads

Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a junior in high school. She belongs to an exclusive clique of girls called the "Queens." The leader is her best friend Niko. Their friendship has been strained lately because Tom—Sykosa's first boyfriend boyfriend—has gotten all serious about making her his pretty Prom princess. That is if he ever gets around to asking her. Before Prom, there's a party at Niko's cottage where parental supervision will be nil. He wants to have sex. She doesn't. He sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.

It matters.

Sykosa has a secret she has never told anyone about. Although, some people—Tom included—know anyway. It happened last year and it was big and she'll cry if she talks about it so she's done talking about it, okay? Never mind, it's nobody's business. Except it keeps happening, and it never stops. She doesn't want to deal with it. He does. She sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.

It matters.


An Open Letter to Sykosa
[the protagonist of Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year]

Dear Sykosa,

I finished reading your story less than 24 hours ago and I must say it took me a few hours to process it all. I was instantly sucked into your world, feeling the heightened intensity and hyper awareness; feeling like I hadn't felt since I'd put school behind me. Can I say that it was great to meet you? Not nice, but great. It was so great to meet someone as raw and real as you. It doesn't happen that often these days. I could relate to you but I couldn't, you know?

A lot of things you were caught up in weren't really because of your actions. But they happened because they had to happen. I still don't feel like I TOTALLY know you but throughout those situations, there were these flashes of your dreams and plans that you revealed that added to your depth.

Sometimes, I want to sit around and talk about nothing and laugh like there is no tomorrow like in Friends too. I get about wanting to sometimes be transparent and fake and two-dimensional. I feel the weight of pressure and expectations and sometimes, that makes me want to just quit while I'm ahead as well. 

Your relationship with your mother is so complex, it broke my heart. Yet, once again, so real and so realistic, given the circumstances. And what about Tom? In the beginning, I was very 'eh' about your relationship with him but the minute you took us back to sophomore year when you first met him, I understood. I'm intrigued by the scars in his hands and though you hate bringing up 'last year', the very crux of the plot, most of which is left for Sykosa, Part II, I need to know what happened the previous year!

Will it scar you for life? Why do you feel like you "owe" Tom? Do you love him in spite of it? What is that one incident that occurred in your sophomore year that brought forth the 'blackness'? That gut-wrenching despair that takes over even the cheer squad in your head and breaks the fakest smile is hard to process but I think I know that feeling. The fear and the despair that plagued you since The Incident Which We Still Know Nothing About shook me.

I usually don't read stories that are as gritty as yours. The intensity shocked me as did the lewd references and name-calling but it was very integral to the setting and plot. Much of what happened had me riveted and I was entranced by the web of school politics and relationships. Your best friend Niko stole the show most of the time (and I was very intrigued by her) but in the end, you were what was left. It was your story. It is your life. 

(And that's why I'm writing this letter to you)

I cannot wait for Sykosa, Part II to know more about the incident that changed everything and propelled all the angst. You are awesome, though. Relax and don't bury all those feelings! (Though I'm guessing things changed for you by the end of Part I). I would totally come and give you a hug right now if I could!


So that was Sykosa for me: gritty, intense and definitely not a book I'll forget anytime soon! It was so differently written. I wouldn't have expected to fall in love with the writing style but I did. It practically made me get under Sykosa's skin despite getting a dose of the perspectives of the other characters and there were parts that were so lyrical. One point that I wanted to highlight though, is that I feel Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year is strictly for mature readers. It is an 18+ only book and with its grit, the references made and themes it deals with, I really don't think it's for younger readers.

Publisher: TDS Publishing
Date of Publication: 20th March, 2012
Source: E-copy provided as a part of the blog tour

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

- - -

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Sykosa eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Sykosa for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
  4. BONUS: Leave a comment on this post*
Leave a comment, win $100:

One random tour commenter will win a $100 Amazon gift card. Just leave a comment on this post, and you'll be entered to win. For a full list of participating blogs, check out the official tour page. You can enter on just my blog or on all of them. Get out there and network!

About the book: YA fiction for the 18+ crowd. Sykosa is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the lives of her friends. Set at her best friend’s cottage, for what will be a weekend of unsupervised badness, Sykosa will have to finally confront the major players and issues from this event, as well as decide if she wants to lose her virginity to Tom, her first boyfriend, and the boy who saved her from danger. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Sykosa is Justin OrdoƱez's life's work. He hopes to one day settle down with a nerdy, somewhat introverted woman and own 1 to 4 dogs. Visit Justin on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.


  1. Wow gritty and real...sounds like a tough read but one where hopefully you will gain something. I am not sure how well I will like the lewd references and name calling, they aren't my favorite things to see in books for YA, still this is intriguiung. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a lovely weekend and get those cupcakes you are craving my lovely friend :)

  2. I love love LOVE how you wrote this review like a letter to the main character! Sometimes, when a book touches me as much as this one seemed to connect with you, I feel like speaking directly to a character in it too! Sykosa sounds like such a heartbreaking, complex, and awesome protagonist, and this book sounds exactly the same way. I don't read many gritty and real books, so this is definitely on my list :)

    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful review, Ajoop! <3

  3. That is such an original way of writing a review!
    I LOVE IT! :)
    I had really fun reading your thoughts :)

    I'm glad you liked this book so much. I signed up for the tour as well, but haven't had the chance to read it yet. I'm still a bit wary to read it because I'm a little scared that the themes in the book might peeve me, but after reading your review I might it give it a shot!

    I love main characters who are complex but realistic!

    Thanks for sharing you review ! :D

  4. Ooh, I love the format of this review. Your letter is so well written and heart felt. This book sounds incredible, dark, and gritty. Personally, I don't think this book is for me since I'm not one for dark books, but I'll definitely recommend it to my friends who like those kinds of books! Fabulous post, Ajoop! :)

  5. Ajoop, you are amazing! This was the *perfect* way to review Sykosa. In my own write-up, I called the book a "she," because I felt too connected to the character to refer to the book with the same name as an "it." You are definitely getting short-listed for the best/ most creative entry award. Whether you win, that's up to the panel, but you'll know later tonight.

    Thank you for being a part of this tour. When you have a moment would you kindly cross-post your review to Amazon and GoodReads?

    Thanks again,
    Emlyn :-D

  6. I'm gonna agree with everyone. This was a fantastic review. As the author, I just want to say that it's really great to hear you touch on the relationship between Sykosa and her mother. If I may share a story, in 2010, I was about to publish Sykosa. I had the cover done, a few other things were down the pipeline, but I was good to go, and I stopped because the Interlude wasn't working, so I took a year and rebuilt it from scratch. It was the most excruciating year of writing I've ever had, but what came from that was an interlude where the complex relationship between four women, Niko, Sykosa, Kana, and Sykosa's mother, and the one woman who tied them together, Mother Superior, not only provided light as to why Niko and Sykosa love each other so much, but helped explain how the girls became who they were, and why they acted the way they did. That's all I'm gonna say, but I loved your review, and it's formatting as a letter to Sykosa. I promise you that she's really touched (and a tad weepy-eyed!)


  7. @Heidi aw, yeah it is a gritty read that has parts that are extremely insightful! I hope you had a great weekend as well xD I did get those cupcakes! They were heaven xD

    @Mimi The protagonist IS so awesome and deserves all the love she can get! XD so glad you liked the letter! I was hoping it wouldn't fall flat. There was so much I wanted to tell HER because this was more than just a book for me xD glad it made it to your list, Mimi! :)

    @Nick So glad you had fun :D You should definitely give it a shot, Nick! I'm not gonna lie... It's pretty intense but I loved it in the end! The characters and relationships are wonderfully complex!

    @Sophia It is an incredible book. The sheer breadth and depth of it was amazing! Definitely for people in the mood for something gritty and raw. Thanks for stopping by, Sophia xD

    @Emlyn There was so much I wanted to ask and tell Sykosa by the end of the book! The character became so much more than just a character in a book as well, for me. It's so great that you called the book a 'she'! XD Thanks for stopping by my blog, Emlyn! It was great to be a part of the tour! Cross posted in Amazon and goodreads :D

    @Justin I definitely learned so much more about the characters from the Interlude. Especially the tension between Sykosa and her mom and so much more about Niko 2.0. Even Tom and Sykosa made so much more sense after the Interlude, though of course I'm guessing that's surface level stuff compared to Tom's involvement in the incident! The Interlude fit in so easily and definitely added so much to the story- it's so great to know how it came to be the way it was! I'm glad Sykosa was touched :) I loved reading her story and I'm looking forward to Part 2 xD

  8. OH MY GOSH you're writing your review as a letter! That's very lovely, Ajoop! I can feel how much you adore Sykosa, and I think I'm beginning to like the girl too, simply by reading your lovely review! This seems like a book that will make me gripping and get real emotional because of the story.

    Really, Ajoop, your AMAZING review makes me eager to read this book now! Since you said that the writing is different, that makes me even more curious to pick up this book! I adore your review soooo much, and if there is a book that even urge you to write a letter to the main character, then the book must be super brilliant! <3

    PS: I love Friends too! Just random thing hihi :D

  9. I love the cover of this book! LOOKS SO INTERESTING and your review makes me so excited for this book! I definitely need to add this to my TBR and read it soon!

    Awesome review, Ajoop! ♥ Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. It's definitely a one-of-a-kind read! :D Hope you check it out, Celine! xD

  11. @Hilda It is definitely gripping, Hilda! Once I was hooked, I couldn't stop reading, even during the difficult/heart wrenching parts. Hope you check it out :) And ikr Friends is so timeless and AWESOME! I was randomly thinking of a Phoebe quote just before my exam today and it made me smile so much, haha!


HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)