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Saturday, December 8, 2012

In Progress: 'The Rivals'

Daisy Whitney's first YA novel, The Mockingbirds, was a terrific novel on many levels: Alex attends a private school where adults look the other way when wrongs are committed. When she is date-raped, she discovers there is a vigilante group on campus, the Mockingbirds, that stands up for students who have been harmed.

The novel dealt with date rape, with victims not being believed, with friends and strangers sticking up for doing right by victims and with teens knowing what the right thing to do is, even if the adults around them do not. All of this was done in a fast-moving plot with complex characters to care about in a believable set-up.

The follow-up novel, The Rivals, deepens the stakes when Alex, now head of the Mockingbirds, is told about a possible prescription drug abuse ring. Students may be doping up to try to win a competition.

The complexity of the situation includes Alex not sure about who to tell what, including her fellow Mockingbirds and friends, as well as who to believe as she starts to ask questions. Early on, the who-to-trust aspect and how it affects justice is brought up as Alex wonders what's going on:

For a second, it strikes me as odd that two students here are so worried they'd be implicated that they'd come to me for help. But then again, maybe that's the point -- maybe they are the nameless victims we're supposed to protect. Maybe they're the ones who could get hurt by what's happening. But even so, I have to make sure I'm not being played.

Layers of deception will have to be unwrapped before this novel is done, methinks. So far, The Rivals is another winner.

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