The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

RivalsTitle: The Rivals

Author: Daisy Whitney

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 352

Rating: 4.5/5

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.

I read the first book, The Mockingbirds, a while ago, so I wasn’t sure if I would remember much, plus I couldn’t remember if I really liked it or if it was a gradual thing where I ended up liking it in the end but had a little trouble with the beginning. Reading this book, though, reminds me why I liked the first book. Most of my problems with it (of which there weren’t many) had to do with the events of the story, stemming mainly from the fact that I felt such a connection with the story and its characters and cared about what happened to them.

This book focused on a different crime than the other, which changed the way the story happened. The first book was about a date rape that happened to the main character, so it didn’t just deal with the Mockingbird’s quest for justice but Alex’s personal ordeal as a result. This book, though, was about a study drug ring, a school-wide issue that affected the people around Alex but not her personally. As a result, she had to figure out different ways to bring justice to her school, and the book was about Alex’s experience as an untested leader as well as the drug ring. It was interesting to see Alex’s journey, even when I disagreed with her choices. Even when I disagreed, though, I tended to understand why she made the choices that she did, because she was a solid character.

My main problem with this book was the ending. This will be a bit spoiler-ish, so tread lightly. Throughout the book, Alex has been dealing with another vigilante group that wants to take over from the Mockingbirds, and by the end of the book she not only discovers who’s behind it but has a tense encounter with them. When that encounter leaves Alex with broken fingers, the administration still refuses to care about their students. That left me madder than anything else. That was what the book aimed to do, though – show why they needed the Mockingbirds. It also ended on an uplifting note, with some teachers finally acknowledging the fact that the students weren’t being protected by the administration. I really wanted the book to end by the administration and the people responsible for the attack finally getting what they deserve, but the book ended in a way that it seemed that was what was going to happen. Unfortunately, though, I think this may be the last book in the series, which makes me sad, because though the ending could wrap up the series, it could also set up a great third book.

This book kind of started off slow for me, but I quickly sped through it to find out what was going to happen. It was great to come back to Themis Academy to hear more about the Mockingbirds. I never saw the culprit coming – I was as surprised as most of the characters, never knowing who to trust and who to suspect (in a good way, of course). I really hope this doesn’t end up being the last book about the Mockingbirds.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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