Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release: February 6, 2012
Source: Library
Others in the Series: The Mockingbirds
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.
Welcome back to Themis Academy, a prestigious boarding school for exceptional teenagers. Here, you will be greeted with open arms, but this school is not as perfect as it may superficially seem. Even the rich, talented, and intelligent—especially the rich, talented, and intelligent—break the rules, and when the staff does not care, students must take action once again. In The Rivals, a set of justice-seeking students returns stronger than ever, ready to right the wrongs that the administration ignores.

The best thing about this book and its companion novel is the concept of the Mockingbirds and the passion behind what they do. The success-driven administration at Alex's school does nothing to punish students' transgressions, which makes me furious for the protagonist and her peers. While a sense of constant irritation implanted itself inside my brain during the first book, it grew even stronger as I turned the pages of a sequel in which Alex is part of the Mockingbirds, dealing firsthand with the adults' passiveness. My swelling anger alone allowed The Rivals to outdo The Mockingbirds, but another aspect vaulted this book even higher in my favor.

The Rivals also features a crime that is more confusing and complicated than the one its predecessor explores. In the previous book, the author establishes the identities of both the criminal and the victim right away, and the novel zooms in on the trial and how it affects Alex. In Whitney’s second novel, however, the team must find a perpetrator using limited clues. Readers will appreciate the excitement and anticipation this alteration adds to the plot as well as the way solving a mystery and being forced to suspect everyone strains the main character's relationships with her friends. Just as her quest for answers touches every part of Alex's life, it permeates the entire book, turning The Rivals into an addictive page-turner.

Still, even with so much change, some of the emotions that made The Mockingbirds so wonderful carry over to this book. Alex's reeling shock and stark sense of exposure have only begun to heal, and the rapid fire of events that now drives her life does not prevent her from paying attention to the way people notice her and the things they say about her. Because of this emotional consistency, I can assure those who loved experiencing the main character's journey in The Mockingbirds that Whitney places no damper on the feelings in The Rivals.

Justice, romance, friendship, and redemption all play out collaterally in this companion novel that seamlessly weaves brand-new elements with those readers will remember from its predecessor. Part courtroom drama, part mystery, part self-creation, and part issue-illuminating exposé, The Rivals is a unique novel that is not to be missed.

8 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh it sounds a lot like the The Liar Society! I think I'm going to check this out :)

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    1. It kind of is, except better because it makes you feel lots of acrimonious and empathetic emotions. I'm happy to have brought this book to your attention!

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  2. I really liked The Mockingbirds so I'm so so happy to hear that you enjoyed this one too! I totally agree that the idea of the Mockingbirds is the best part about these books! It's lovely how amazing the students are at regulating the behaviour of the students but on the other hand, like you said, it's infuriating that it has to be like this. Ideally, the administration would be the one dealing with all the problems! Great review, Emily and I'm so excited for this book! :)

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    1. Thanks, and I hope you like it as much as I did! As much as I complain about the oppression that runs rampant in my school (and high schools in general), administrations need to do SOMETHING to regulate miscreants' behavior. I can't imagine being in that environment - I would never feel safe. The members of The Mockingbirds are so awesome!

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  3. Why have I never heard of this series. This sounds so good and interesting! Lovely review as always :)

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    1. Step up your marketing, Little, Brown! Haha. I'm glad to have brought this series to your attention because it is both of those things. And thank you!

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  4. I'm intrigued. The cover throws me off because it's a boy, but then in the synopsis, Alex is a girl. Like, what? And draaamaaaa. I shouldn't like it as much as I do. It sounds really interesting, thanks for the heads up!

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    1. The cover is kind of misleading in that way, and as a side note, the cover model looks like that guy from One Direction. But the drama is strong in this one.

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