When Alex Patrick was assulted 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 deciet within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice threaten to reveal even more about herself.
I didn't think The Mockingbirds needed a sequel, but...I was wrong! It did, and The Rivals delivers. Some of my favorite parts involved watching Alex grow stronger by dealing with the aftermath of last year's date rape and the subsequent trial. Some students (and teachers, pardon me while I throw up) blame Alex for what happened, so she has to deal with snide comments, sidelong looks, and shoves in the hallway.
That sucks, and that's not all. She also has to deal with her memories. Could she have done more to avoid it? Fight him off? And will she ever enjoy time with her boyfriend without flashing back to that awful night?
Thank goodness Alex is one of the strongest, coolest girls I've ever read about. She hurts, but she perseveres. More than that, she turns her pain into a drive to help others. Which is just what she does as the new leader of the Mockingbirds, trying to suss out a drug/cheating ring at her school.
I'll be honest. That part (uh, the plot) wasn't what made this book awesome. It did bring up some interesting questions, like how do you prosecute a group of people who are not hurting anyone in particular but everyone in general? But law stuff is not my passion. I love relationships. I loved seeing Alex break and mend her friendships with T.S. and Maia. I loved seeing her communicate honestly with her boyfriend Martin while they deal with disagreements and jealousy. I loved seeing her learn to trust the faculty members who actually care more for their students than their national ranking. And I loved seeing her relationship with her piano, how losing herself in music gave her peace and clarity.
Alex is an awesome role model, and while the Mockingbirds have some flaws, it is a great role model as well. Bring on the teenage social justic vigilantes!
Five out of five Ravel pieces.
Release Date: February 2012
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL WHI