Toxic, Nicci Cloke


I thought it’d be jokes. I didn’t know. 

Hope has never been happier. She’s on her way to Crete, after a group of her friends have made her an honorary ‘lad’ and let her tag along on their boys’ holiday.

The next thing Hope knows, she’s being woken up on the beach by two strangers. What on earth happened?

* * *
3 / 5

Hope goes away on a lads holiday and wakes up one morning on a beach, alone. A friendship group falls apart. What happened? Toxic has a compelling story and an interesting narrative choice.

I am happy. I am so happy. I AM HUNGOVER.

Hope is an honorary “lad” on the guys trip to Crete after the ladies’ holiday falls apart. That means she’s down for lots of drinking – and not much else! Unfortunately, part of this lads group is Logan, Hope’s ex-boyfriend who is now dating Daisy. The book is split into three sections: Hope, Logan, and then Daisy each get their own POV in that order. Hope’s section covers her time on the holiday from the flight to waking up from a solid day+night of drinking on a beach with no idea what happened. Logan takes up the story from there to home, where he reunites with girlfriend Daisy, but he’s struggling with his secrets of Crete and depression. Then we hear from Daisy who is watching as a previously close-knit group of friends turns toxic and falls apart.

I thought the story was great. It’s compelling and mysterious and often strays into the darkness. The heavy topics in the book sometimes make it a difficult read – excessive drinking, drugging people, sexual assault, and toxic relationships. But I felt like these topics were all handled really well and it was all woven together to create this story of secrets and betrayal and how a close group of friends can easily turn toxic.

It’s never going to be easy, going on holiday with your ex, is it?

Logan and Hope definitely have the meat of the story between Hope’s account of the holiday and Logan’s declining mental health. Daisy, whilst a nice character, felt a little tacked on to the end of the story; what I really wanted was more closure on what happened on the beach! That was where I was emotionally invested and Daisy felt a bit disconnected from that.

Toxic was dark, interesting, and sometimes emotionally difficult to read. It was also unsatisfying in its conclusion.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book

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