Pages: 368 pages, paperback
Standalone/series?: This is book one in the Caroline & West series. Book two, Harder, is due out later this year
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): When Caroline Piasecki's ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn't look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear; hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defence and punches her ex to the ground.
West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he's shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger - even after promising her dad she'll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.
They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they're 'just friends,' their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself - and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.
When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.
Story: Deeper is the story of Caroline Piasecki, a college student trying to put her life back together after her ex-boyfriend leaks sex pictures of her on revenge porn websites. That's quite a premise, right? Yup. Deeper gets to the nitty gritty right from the first page and delivers a hard-hitting opening that grabbed my attention.
While not always pleasant to read, Deeper tackles the growing issue of revenge porn and helps readers to realise exactly how life-shattering this horrendous invasion of privacy can be. We see Caroline's life come completely undone in the aftermath of the photos being leaked and I'm glad York shows that this isn't an issue that will go away overnight - Caroline spends the entire novel trying to make the pictures disappear and we see not only how the pictures impact her life, but also how their impact the lives of her friends and family.
Of course, the other main storyline in Deeper is the complex and frustrating relationship between Caroline and West, a bad boy so bad I'm sure he'll have his own Facebook fan page soon. One thing that I felt a little let down about is that the revenge porn element of the story quickly took a back seat once things started hotting up between Caroline and West. I get that this is primarily a love story so their relationship will always be the priority but I would have liked to have seen a little more about how Caroline tackled the issue of the photos. Although, I do need to bear in mind that this only book one in a series so, of course, we're not going to see everything neatly tied up and resolved this time around.
Writing: The writing is a really strong part of Deeper and I think without this the story could have fallen really flat. However, York's writing style kept me engaged throughout what is, in NA terms, a fairly lengthy novel, and I didn't lose interest at any point.
The use of dual narrative works really well here and West's voice is clearly defined and well-written - without West's chapters I don't think I would have warmed to him as a character so writing part of the novel from his perspective was an excellent device.
Although the writing throughout the novel is strong, there are a few places where York's talent particularly shines through, and those are, unfortunately, the most uncomfortable to read. After reading insults and hideously sexist comments on the photos of her that have been posted online, Caroline cannot forget the awful words she's read and these voices follow her everywhere she goes.
She might be on a night out with friends, or deciding what to wear for the day, or thinking about her feelings for West, and suddenly a barrage of hateful, sexual comments will flare up in her mind and these sections show some really powerful writing that provoked a strong reaction in me. For me, the proof of a great writer is one who can make me feel something and I really did feel for Caroline in these moments.
Characters: The characterisation in Deeper is handled really well and I grew to really care about Caroline as a person as the novel progressed. She's always been known as a 'good girl' but online drama she's the centre of us forces her to be more true to who she really is, and I loved her determination and sense of self. She really does go on a difficult journey throughout Deeper and by the end of the story she's a very different, much stronger person than she was at the beginning.
West, by his very nature, is an enigma. I found myself constantly shocked by his behaviour and the way he spoke to Caroline, on occasion. However, as the story progressed and we learned more and more of his backstory I began to understand him more and realised why he had such towering walls up to stop anybody getting close to him.
What I liked most about Caroline and West's relationship is that they kept their individual identities, even as their feelings for each other began to grow. Too often in novels I find myself frustrated that couples merge into one amalgamation but these two really do live their own lives, as well as their life together, which was refreshing to read. I'm not going to talk much about the ending but I found the way both characters acted completely inspiring - I think this could work just as well as a standalone novel as it does in a series but with that said, I'm keen to get my hands on Harder when it's released later this year.