When Charlotte Brody, a lonely 17-year-old student at a new school, receives an invitation to join The League of Strays, she's intrigued by the group's promise of "instant friendship." The League does provide companionship--and even a love interest--but Charlotte grows increasingly uncomfortable with its sinister mission to seek revenge against the bullies of Kennedy High. When escalating acts of vengeance threaten to hurl her down a path of remorse, Charlotte must choose between her new friends and the direction of a future she's never fully considered.
Disclosure thingy: I got an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I went to add this to my GR page and noticed this book is mired in some kind of controversy. I'm glad I read the book before I read any of the comments. I waited a week to write this to further distance myself from it. It's basically about the portrayal of bullying and homosexuality in this book. I will address those two things in this review.
I guess the some of the appeal of this book is a kind of literary wish fulfillment for people who have been bullied. Kind of a revenge fantasy type thing. If you've been the victim of bullying or your kid has, I think in many cases, there is a desire for revenge and striking back. Now, this is where it ends for most people in real life- you make an elaborate plan for revenge, with hundreds of pages of detailed notes and timelines, you build the scale model, you create a computer simulation of your timeline, etc. Right? Perfectly normal. (NOTE: if this is not perfectly normal, I'm just kidding.) Seriously, though, this is really it for normal people- you've worked your anger out and you're done with it and try to cope and deal with it properly- maybe talking to the school counselor, the other kid's parents, etc. In all honesty and in my personal experience, kids use books like this or violent video games to work out anger. Not to get ideas, not as a stepping stone to commit violence, etc.
So that being said, back to the book. All in all, I found it to be very readable. It was a little slow in the beginning, which I think is acceptable in a book that requires a bit of set up. (Which this book does) But once that happens, it's a quick read. I normally read a few books at once, but this once this one got going it captured my attention and I read it straight through. Second, this has been a difficult review to write. Not because I hated the book, but because of spoilers. I usually like to give an example, but a lot of the examples I think of would be spoilers. With that in mind, I think the character of Charlotte was well developed and her character evolved pretty believably though the course of the book. (Sorry don't want to spoil it.) I also liked how little by little Kade- the leader of the League of Strays- had his character revealed. A mystery slowly unraveling in the book; we learn about him as Charlotte figures him out- which was quite well done, I thought.
Which brings us to Controversy #2: The treatment of Richie, the gay character. First, I do not think this book is anti-gay. In fact, the way Richie was used/lied to, etc. is how the author gave insight into another character. That someone would use Richie's homosexuality against him shows the true nature of another character in the book. I think that if this book sounds at all interesting to you, just read it and judge it on its own merits and your own tastes- in other words, I would avoid this book's Goodreads page until you're ready to add it, mark it as finished, and write your review. You can read all about the controversy once you're done with that. I'm glad I got to read the book without all of that baggage.
Overall Rating: 3 stars
Genre Rating: 3 1/2 stars (Again, I think this is a good summertime read. A coming of age type book where the moral messages are wrapped up in an intriguing premise and action-filled plot)
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