Rebel In Venus

Fiction - Drama
208 Pages
Reviewed on 05/23/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Rebel In Venus is a work in the interpersonal drama, suspense, and women’s fiction subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to the use of explicit language throughout and scenes of sex and graphic violence. Penned by Marissa Alma Nick, this intense and dramatic tale follows when a casual girls' night turns into a deeper, darker conversation. Close friends Maria and Layla find their relationship tested when Layla’s exploration of her past sends her spiraling into a world of pent-up anguish and trauma, leaving little hope of seeing a bright future when the darkness of her past so desperately traps her.

Marissa Alma Nick presents a fantastically realistic character study that takes plenty of dramatic twists and turns in its flashback-filled plot. I found the unusual narrative approach refreshing for a women’s drama as the current timeline slow-burns with psychological suspense while Layla’s life and fragile mind unravel. There are plenty of trigger warnings at the book's opening for the varied kinds of trauma that the novel explores. However, I found each topic realistically portrayed, never sensationalized for its drama, and dealt with via emotive, intuitive dialogue. What results is a gripping and heartfelt portrayal of two women picking up life's wreckage after trauma and learning about solidarity, honesty, and hope. I highly recommend Rebel In Venus for fans of high-quality character-led drama everywhere.

Pikasho Deka

Rebel in Venus by Marissa Alma Nick follows the story of a woman named Layla, who delves into her past during a conversation with her friend, Maria, one evening. Throughout the evening, Layla slowly reveals her traumatic experiences from childhood, dysfunctional relationships, her time in the world of sex work introduced to her by an enigmatic friend, pregnancy, divorce, and much more. With each story, Layla reveals a part of herself that turned her into the woman she is today. She tells Maria of the extreme lows that led her to being broke and on the verge of taking her own life. Will her past continue to haunt her through the rest of her life? Or will Layla finally put the past to rest and learn to move on?

Traumatic events find a way to impact a person's life long after they occur. Rebel in Venus is the story of a woman who suffered sexual assault, heartbreak, and abuse, leading her to the point of despair, only to find hope through the sheer resilience of her will and newfound friendship. Marissa Alma Nick doesn't shy away from tackling sensitive, relevant social issues, including sexual trauma, mental health awareness, and suicide. Layla feels like a real person, making her story more immersive. Although heartbreaking at times, the book ends on a hopeful note. Emotionally resonant and thematically poignant, Rebel in Venus is a must-read. Highly recommended.

Essien Asian

Nothing feels better than when friends share stories and reminisce. Factor in some alcohol, and you might end up with stories that should have stayed buried, crawling out of their graves with disturbing consequences. This is the case with Maria and Layla, who have developed their relationship well beyond their initial therapy sessions to the point that they can comfortably reveal their darkest, deepest secrets without discomfort. As Maria unburdens herself of memories that go as far back as her childhood, a disturbing trend of sexual molestation and emotional abuse begins to form such that Layla must decide if allowing Maria to decompress is worth the risk of her friend succumbing to the darkness in Marissa Alma Nick’s Rebel In Venus.

A dark and troubling tale unfolds as a disillusioned young woman recalls the odyssey that is her past and how she has had to make peace with living with the consequences of decisions she did not make for herself. Marissa Alma Nick’s storyline uses conversations and large doses of dark humor to discuss uncomfortable topics. Her principal characters are simple in their construction. Their discussion has a carefree tone that expertly disguises the darker edge that gradually permeates this tale the more you become engrossed. Marissa is blunt enough to expand on the graphic details of the disturbing stories to such an extent that I wondered if there wasn't more to these accounts than meets the eye. However, she expertly paces the story as it approaches its conclusion with scenarios that will leave few dry-eyed with its thought-provoking subplots. Rebel In Venus will leave its mark on you.

Asher Syed

Rebel In Venus by Marissa Alma Nick is a work of fiction revolving around the repressed memories of a young woman named Layla as she shares what has happened to her in the past with her friend Maria. The book deals with the tragic abuses that Layla has experienced forced onto her by those she trusted, some she knew, others little more than passing acquaintances, and people in positions of authority. From an incredibly young age onward she is sexualized and, like many girls, viewed as a woman despite being a child, which a girl is even as a teenager. She is repeatedly the victim of manipulation and gaslighting. Her humiliation is internalized, publicly and privately, and she learns to separate herself from her body and connect what is happening to music. In college, her first real relationship convolutes love, submission, pornography, and the abuse of trust and body. Her life into adulthood is shaped by further deception and loss, but by sharing her trauma with Maria the possibility of healing might be on the horizon.

Rebel in Venus by Marissa Alma Nick is likely to be the book that has the highest number of separate sexual assaults by different people of any that I have read in a work of fiction before. Layla has so, so many stories of different abuses that each page is a detailing of a new assault by a new assailant and the result is a book where every scene is jolting. The narrative is entirely in the form of conversations with Maria in one night. There are no dialogue tags and the conversations are instead presented as a sequence of statements with Maria or Layla's name followed by a colon symbol, and then the line of dialogue. The assaults themselves are written in story format and described to Maria like a stream of consciousness. The seriousness of the book's content is let down by the writing itself, which doesn't have the polish readers might expect in a published novel. Still, Nick's decision to put the experiences that Layla has out into the world could very well be the validation another victim needs in order to feel seen and heard, and from that perspective, it is an important vehicle that deserves a place on the bookshelf.

Jamie Michele

Rebel In Venus is a literary fiction novel authored by Marissa Alma Nick that intimately explores the impact of sexual abuse and the complete and total repression of memories, and is primarily focused on the experiential recollections of a young woman named Layla. In the harrowing domain of her past, Layla relives her traumatic experiences by her telling them, for the first time ever, to her best friend and confidante named Maria. Layla confides to Maria a spectrum of abuses and those who perpetrated them in exact detail and chronological order when the women spend the night together. Significantly, Layla's initiation into a world of sexual violence happens at a tender age and continues throughout most of her adult life. At the intersection of her coming of age, she turns to sex work in an attempt to take back control of a body that was always under the control of others. Between all the violent events, Layla's intricate coping mechanism hinges upon dissociation in the way someone who has a near-death experience feels as if their soul has departed. Instead of seeing a light, she hears music, and in her desperation to tie together meaning, the lyrics of a song embody the abuse she endures as an out-of-body observer.

A notable hallmark of Rebel in Venus by Marissa Alma Nick is its unyielding portrayal of sexual assault that transpires over a lifetime. The bonds of friendship take center stage, shining a light on the impact that trust can have on an individual's journey. Layla finds solace and hope in the unwavering support of her best friend Maria and the book is successful in its portrayal of the transformative power of genuine connection. Layla's trust in Maria is a watershed moment, a shift from a lifetime of guardedness and isolation. This exploration of friendship underscores the significance of emotional intimacy and the positive effect on the restorative process. While Rebel in Venus tells of the complexities of trauma, a more substantive editing process would have benefited the overall reading experience. Nevertheless, Nick's understanding of the indelible scars borne by survivors comes through, reminding readers that complete healing does not have to be forever elusive. On the contrary, in Layla's willingness to share her burdens with Maria there lies the promise of catharsis and the glimmer of hope for a future marked by resilience and strength.