Published by Amulet Books on March 7th 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens. Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of Hazard, a powerful attorney: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.
Let’s get this started off right–by me insulting something. That’s always a good way to begin because you know I’m going to be brutally honest.
I think bikers and biker clubs are stupid. Actually, I think most clubs are stupid, but especially biker clubs. That ridiculous hierarchy. Brotherhood that you have to be initiated into so men can feel special about their testosterone. *makes jerking off hand motion* Rules made up by men that reinforce women as second class citizens. The fact that women still can’t be members but can only be basically hangers on. As a feminist, I am not here for that.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find a book mostly about female empowerment, and how the daughter of the president of The Wardens, one of these motorcycle clubs, isn’t having any of their bullshit. At first Tourmaline starts out respecting the club and the rules, but when she falls for a conscript and befriends a girl (Virginia) trying to infiltrate the club to see what unsavory activities they are involved in, she starts to question all of the crap she has been fed in her life.
Virginia was sold to a man (Hazard, an unsavory lawyer) into work slavery because her mother could not afford to pay her legal fees when Hazard helped her out after several DUI charges. Virginia works for him dealing drugs and doing other odd jobs, and there is no telling when she will finally be free. Hazard orders her to use her body to get inside The Wardens to find out what they are up to. She doesn’t want to use her body this way so she starts by befriending Tourmaline instead.
I absolutely adored Tourmaline, though she was a bit melodramatic at times, always thinking the worst when it wasn’t that big of a deal. There was one scene when she storms off on a motorcycle that I thought was a bit ridiculous but it led to some interesting events happening so…whatever. Virginia, on the other hand, was not my cup of tea, really. I didn’t necessarily dislike her, but she felt very unemotional to me, and sort of one note. I feel like this may have been deliberate by the author because Virginia went through a lot, but I wanted to understand her motivations more than I did. I looked forward to Tourmaline’s POV but Virginia’s, not so much.
I’m not sure how readers will feel about the love interests, actually, because I’m still not sure how I feel. I liked Cash (the conscript) a lot, but he didn’t have much personality, unfortunately. And by the end, I still didn’t like Jason. I understood his motivations more, but the age difference between him and Virginia–28 and 18–still bothers me. Like I realize Virginia is of age and everything, but I once dated a 26-year-old guy when I was 19 and we had absolutely nothing in common so I wonder what will happen there.
Done Dirt Cheap made me think a lot. Not just about how much I hate biker clubs (ha ha ha) but about the things that are revealed towards the end of the book. I’m going to put this stuff in a spoiler tag so don’t read it if you don’t want to find out things that happen at the end. View Spoiler » It’s revealed that The Wardens kill people. They kill abusers that of children that the justice system has failed. They killed Ray, Virginia’s father, and though this is presented as a twist, it’s really obvious towards the end so it’s not much of a surprise. But I guess what made me think the most is how I feel about vigilante justice. I’d like to think that I support it but it’s a morally gray area for me. I get why people do it, and I want all offenders punished, but I just don’t know if it’s right. That’s what the law is for. I’m thinking I’d probably have to be someone the justice system has failed to understand how I truly feel about it. « Hide Spoiler Closing this off by saying this book caught me by surprise. I really enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I also don’t think the blurb really does the book justice. It sort of makes Done Dirt Cheap sound boring, but it’s absolutely not. Definitely grab a copy of this one.