The Luis Ortega Survival Club / Sonora Reyes / Book Review

#MeToo feels a little murky when you didn't say "no." But Ariana Ruiz would have said no if she could.

Ari isn't afraid to dress to impress. As an autistic girl with selective mutism, that's really the only way to get noticed by her peers. Always silent in public, she often flies under the radar. Until Luis Ortega, that is. In Luis, Ari thought she had a friend. She thought they might even be something more. She thought he noticed her, liked her, cared for who she was. But then there was that party... It's hard to say "no" when you can't say anything at all.

Ari's ready to go through the aftermath alone, just as she always has in her life before. But then she receives a note in her locker, an invitation to a special group who might just know what she's going through. And they're not willing to take it in silence anymore. 


This book is pretty much everything I wanted Natalie Walton's Revenge of the Sluts to be: victims working together to fight oppressive structures, to take back the power, to free themselves of undeserved judgement. It isn't perfect, but it does its job so well. 


  • Autism Acceptance: The main character here is autistic, and this affects her in a lot of ways. Her selective mutism, in fact, is part of what gets her into this whole situation. She's socially vulnerable because of it. But even though she's not the most talkative in public, her inner narrative is distinct, biting, and important representation. She's the strong, self-confident type of autistic rep that we need more of -- even when she's questioning and doubting herself. 
  • Support Group: At the center of this group is a bunch of girls who have experienced shades of the same terrible thing all coming together to support each other. And I love that. They're in it together, no matter what their story is exactly, and this group isn't just comprised of the victims themselves. As a best friend and strong ally, Angel is a wonderful addition to the group. He might not know exactly what these ladies have gone through, but he's got their back and is ready to fight for them if they want him to. Nobody is pitted against another. Nobody is forced to go it alone. And that's the type of support anyone would dream of. 
  • Fear: Any book that can invoke fear for its characters is a book well done. I found myself very worried for these girls are they went forward--worried about what the ramifications of speaking up might be. Especially because they didn't have guidance outside of each other, they could easily wind up in some legal hot water. Better not to "slander" a bright young man who has his whole life ahead of him. We shouldn't ruin his future, right? This is a high-anxiety read, and that's part of the point. People don't speak up because they're afraid, even in fiction. I was afraid for them. 


  • Simple Writing: There's nothing wrong with simple writing. "Simple" sounds bad, but I simply mean that the writing here isn't flashy. It doesn't play with words, doesn't tug on the heartstrings, doesn't render profound quips and quotable quotes. There's nothing wrong with that at all. But with a story that I loved, with female friendship at the center, I wanted to be able to really dig into the writing, to quote it and love it on that level, too. I didn't really get that. It's not bad. It's just not something to write home about, not on this particular level.
  • Anonymous Trust: Ari has great reason not to trust anybody. She has never really had friends, and when she opened herself up to Luis, it came back to bite her. So when an anonymous source reaches out, I'm not sure she would so willingly open up. It seems unlikely, given what she's been through, especially when this anonymous person keeps pushing her to meet up, to spill her secrets, to share what happened with her. I'm glad it works out for Ari, but I'm not sure that's how it would play out in real life. 
  • Hyperbolic: There are guys like Luis everywhere, guys who don't respect boundaries, who hurt others who are vulnerable, and who get away with it. That's unfortunately all too common and all too realistic. But Luis also has other things going for him -- like his judge of a father. He doesn't need that much to get away with what he's getting away with (unfortunately), so having this rich and powerful connection (someone who can get innocent people sent to detention centers just because) feels a little like overkill. 



Fans of Natalie Walton's Revenge of the Sluts will like this new, empowered girl gang. Those who appreciated Anna-Marie McLemore's The Mirror Season will like this tale of murky waters and necessary revenge. 


Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Date: May 23, 2023
Series: N/A
Add to Goodreads

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. I enjoy books that include characters on the spectrum - especially if the author is also on the spectrum. Wonderful review!

  2. This isn't the sort of book I'd pick up and read, but you've written a very fair and balanced review. I agree about the anonymous trust aspect too.

  3. Wonderful review! I'm glad to hear there was support in this story for these characters. It's definitely something you'd never want to feel alone in. Thanks for sharing!


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