Book Thoughts: The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

(**Received from publisher in exchange for a thoughtful review.)

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn’t do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that’s been given to her, she’s now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn’t rape. It isn’t bullying. It isn’t hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don’t add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

Since the beginning of my Junior year, the amount of books I’ve read has dropped significantly. Recently, reading has been an on/off thing due to lack of time and school pressure. It has taken me about three weeks to complete, but I have finally finished The Rivals. Now please, do not take this as a bad thing; this novel is very, very good.

The Rivals is a sequel; a continuation of Alex’s journey with the Mockingbirds of the precious Themis Academy. Although Alex’s court case is history, the result of the whole situation still impacts her life daily. I know that a victim is faced with the nightmares of his/her incident, but ‘you never really know until you’re in someone else’s shoes.’ Reading about nightmares, taunting from peers and other things Alex is experiencing gave me the insight of just how much a person is damaged from an incident. I don’t think this novel is dark in any way, but Alex’s emotions and haunting memories felt raw.

I was able to relate and empathize with the emotions, the situations, and the pressure constantly throughout the novel. I would be pissed if the administration at my school turned a blind eye to horrible things, or really upset at the fact that I would accuse a friend. I completely immersed myself into the novel, not exactly becoming Alex, but definitely not just staying a reader. Picturing myself in her position allowed me to enjoy the novel even more than I already was.

Alex has been wronged in more ways than one, but she stays true to her morals and values. There are moments where the protagonist is tempted to break them, but she does not. I appreciate Alex for sticking to her beliefs (that I also happen to believe in).

To tell you the truth, I kinda wish I had disliked any part of this novel a teeny-tiny bit because my review is now all praise. But then I asked myself “how could I not like any part of this novel?” The Rivals brings the whole school into it this time, exposing many different people. Whitney creates a student body that’s similar and diverse all at the same time-just like the school I go to. I highly recommend this novel to any teenager that’s looking for a well-written story about friendship, decisions and having the strength to overcome the situations life throws at you.

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