Please note that I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. This review is as spoiler-free as possible.
Hear What you Want is the latest novel from British author Kyra Lennon. Ambra, a college student from Brighton, meets her favourite rock band and is stoked to be invited back to their hotel room, especially since she’s joined at the hip with their hunky lead singer, Noah. It isn’t long before everyone is completely wasted, and Ambra and Noah are getting hot and heavy.
But waking up in the morning, Ambra realizes that she doesn’t remember anything about that night, and that something feels off. Like her body has been violated. Full of questions, she needs to find out the truth and Noah has to defend his name amidst the vicious nature of the social media hive-mind and in-fighting with his band-mates.
I’ve read several books of Kyra’s over the years, and this is a very different approach to her usual light-hearted romance endeavors that she’s known for. Taking a much more mature and darker turn, Hear What you Want looks at the foggy nature of consent and the borderline terrifying mob mentality of the internet.
The cover for this book is beautiful. With a bold yet feminine design, I love that Lennon actually had a photo shoot done for this cover, as oppose to just downloading a picture from a stock website. It’s not something you often see from indie authors so it was quite a nice touch!
What I Liked
I loved the tie-in to her Razes Hell series; Hear What you Want features band members from those books, which I thought was a nice little touch. I haven’t read those books, and I don’t think that this novel was a direct spin-off, but I do like the idea that all of her books are set generally in the same ‘universe’. It’s not something you often see in this type of fiction.
Something I have previously taken light issue with in relation to Kyra’s works was how the love interest was an intolerable man with few redeemable qualities (I’m looking at you, Radleigh). However, in Hear What you Want, Noah – our love interest and accused villain alike – feels real, flawed, friendly and unpredictable. He wasn’t merely a stud-muffin with abs you could do your laundry on, he was a three-dimensional human who made mistakes and realized he had to pay for them.
Noah’s band-mates were realistic people, and the ‘voice’ of each POV came through clearly, I never once forgot whose perspective I was reading from. For one thing, Noah and his boys have a potty mouth and Ambra is much more softly spoken.
Since 2012, when she published the first Game On book, allowing Radleigh to swing his pork-sword at anything that moved, Lennon’s writing has matured and improved. I would hands-down say that Hear What you Want is her best book to date.
I won’t spoil details, but there was a nice twist in this book that will lead into the second book quite nicely. It was one of those cliffhangers that almost makes you mad that you can’t read what’s going to happen next. I will admit that I guessed it was going to happen less than half-way through, but I can’t hold that against the book or Lennon. It was well executed and I suspect many people won’t actually see it coming.
What felt odd about the ending is that, despite being a truly shocking cliffhanger which leaves many thoughts and questions, ultimately wrapped up the two major questions that had been the entire point of the book. The mystery is solved, the bridges burned and the damage done.
I am honestly unsure if there is enough to fill up a whole new book, but I’ve no doubt that Lennon will completely surprise me. After all, there is still more that could be explored in a story like this, especially if the more character-driven, emotional aspect of things is focused on, such as a rape trial, media fallout and emotional recovery.
Finally, I won’t spoil anything, but there was a particular moment where we discover a good female character did something very bad. The reasoning was given in a very well-written and dramatic scene near the end, but to me it all seemed to come out of nowhere, especially since it was this character who got the Police involved in the first place. It was a great idea, but I did feel as if there could’ve been more foreshadowing, the kind where the reader only notices it after the twist is thrown at us.
All in all, Hear What you Want is a great book that is both an easy and addictive read with characters that feel alive and easy to relate to. Whether you have experienced the trauma played out in the story or not, it is a book that will leave you questioning not only how you conduct yourself on social media, but also how the world at large tends to approach victims of rape and sexual assault.