Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

the rivals book cover diasy whitney
The Rivals (The Mockingbirds #2) by Daisy Whitney
Release Date: February 6, 2012 
Publisher: Little, Brown
Source: Publisher for 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.
The Mockingbirds was an excellent novel and one I loved immensely. I was worried about why The Mockingbirds had a sequel and after having read it, my opinions are still mixed. While I respected Daisy Whitney's ability to show that what happened to Alex did not just dissolve after a few months, the rest of the novel felt unnecessary. The Rivals was a good book nonetheless but not as good as The Mockingbirds.

For one, the plot focused a lot on a large drug ring that had developed at the school and in turn, a rival counsel had developed to challenge the Mockingbirds. While The Mockingbirds was more about Alex and not much was said about the Mockingbirds, The Rivals showed just how complicated the system really was. While the reader only saw the surface actions of the Mockingbirds in book one, The Rivals took an even more in depth look at the proceedings. How far was too far? How was Alex to handle the changing dynamics of the school and the group itself?

Alex was once again, a very strong character yet she developed even more in this book. Alex was still traumatized by the rape from book one and I have to admit: Daisy Whitney did a great job showing that the effects were still very much real. I’ve never been in a situation like Alex but I could feel for her throughout this entire book. I think the bullying and victim blaming was also very sad and frustrating but I think it was important for the book and Alex. Very much like in the real world, victim blaming does happen and I felt like Daisy Whitney showed the reality of it. I hope people will learn to stop blaming the victim.

Martin was also a character I loved and hated. I loved him because he was so strong and always there for Alex. But I hated that he questioned and pushed Alex not because it was (depending on the situation) necessary but simply because I was so invested in Alex’s well being. I liked this constant love-hate relationship because it showed just how much of a confusing time it was for both Alex and Martin’s relationship. While he wanted to love and protect his girlfriend, he also had to do his job as a Mockingbird.

I felt like Daisy Whitney lost some of her spark in her writing. I'm not sure what it was exactly but it didn't leave me with as much emotion as her writing in The Mockingbirds. Maybe it was because I felt like her writing didn't change (or develop) from the first book or maybe because I honestly only cared for the well being of Alex, but I wasn't as enthralled.

Overall, The Rivals was a great follow up to The Mockingbirds but it was not as good as I had hoped it would be. While the characters are just as wonderful, I wasn't as invested in them all as I was with Alex. Alex's struggle to move forward with her life after the rape are very well depicted (from what I know) and I appreciated the author's honesty.
Cover Comments: 
First thoughts: IS THAT MARTIN?!
Comments: So I like how this cover goes with the cover for The Mockingbirds but I honestly like the original covers better! 
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