28. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney, 352 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/27/2012

In Daisy Whitney’s first book, The Mockingbirds, we met Alex, a student at the ultra-competitive boarding school, Themis Academy. She was date-raped at a party, which was ignored by the administration. Alex found herself in the underground court of the Mockingbirds, a student-run vigilante justice group. Her case was successful, which, according to Mockingbird rules, makes her an automatic board member of the Mockingbirds. Alex is honored and intimidated. She gets a case the very first week of school and this is a case with no clear victim to put forth a complaint. This case revolves around a cheating ring made possible with pharmaceutical help (an adderall-type drug). Alex and the Mockingbirds now have to figure out exactly who is involved with the cheating ring as well as how they are going to try a case with no specific victim. Ultimately, they determine that this is clear Mockingbirds territory and that they are trying the case for the good of the community at large.
What I particularly liked about this book is the fact that it is not simply a “problem” novel. It works on several levels. It is a mystery, to some extent. Who is supplying the drugs? Who is benefiting from them? How does one go about investigating a case like this? Plenty of twists and turns too. None of the characters are unimpeachable. Alex has flaws and occasionally makes terrible decisions that force her to question the limits and ethics of a group like the Mockingbirds. She is both isolated in her role as the head of the Mockingbirds and publicly exposed for the same reasons. She finds herself in a position where “right” and “wrong” are not as distinct as she had initially believed. This would likely make a good discussion novel, especially given the prevalence of stimulant abuse in academics.

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