The Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney.

The blurb:

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

It is not often that you'll see me reviewing a YA book. Not because I don't read them, but my two colleagues on this blog specialise in YA, so I usually leave it to them. However, I was so thrilled to receive a copy of The Mockingbirds from a fellow Aussie book reviewer. I was intrigued by her review and have read many other fab reviews, mostly positive. 

The Mockingbirds has many appealing components that will appeal to a YA readership: boarding school, mysterious society, fierce vigilante justice with a traumatised but strong and sympathetic main character (for emotional impact).

The first chapter is intriguing. I loved the prose. It's sparse and sharp with a little bit of ache-y thrown in. I found it really appealing.

As a teacher who teaches many classics, I also loved all the little references to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. When you saw the title, like me, you probably thought it would be related in some way and it is. I adored the music refs, too, the Mozart, the piano playing and the passion for classical music. It was expressed so well, 'way cool' if you like.

There are many issues in the book which makes it a thought-provoking read. I like it for my students. Great for them to read it when studying 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' There are many discussion starters here.

On the down side, however, as the book progressed it started to lose me. I found myself not caring about the characters, which is always a red light to me. If I don't care what happens to the characters, I tend to stop reading. This time I didn't, but...Alex? The MC? I just didn't care about her plight even though she was date raped. Why? I think date rape is horrific, but her reaction distanced her from me. There was something about the way her emotions were presented. I didn’t feel compelled by her story. It didn't ring true.

The supporting characters all seemed a conglomeration. They were rather wooden, just characters in a book. They were usually flat and one dimensional. Even the love interest failed to spark - he seemed a celluloid creation to be the perfect match for Alex. Where was the romantic tension and chemistry between them?

I thought The Mockingbirds would be a powerful, emotional read. Many people may think it is - for all my lack of interest in the characters, it is really beautifully written. Yet I was mainly bored and felt disappointed at the treatment of the premise.

Because I didn’t connect with the characters, I wasn’t immersed in the story. It was difficult to suspend my disbelief regarding the novel set-up. The plot development bugged me and I really didn't see the reasoning behind some of the choices characters made.

But hey, don't listen to me, make your own decision. Goodreads gives it high ratings and it's easy to find glowing reviews around the blogosphere, but is that because the feeling is that we should rate it hightly because it dares to deal with the issue of date rape? 

I say kudos to the author for tackling such an intense and relevant subject for YA readers. She is writing a sequel to this one, but I'd give it a miss personally.

If this premise interests you, you should give it a go - you might connect with it. As I said the author didn't connect me with the characters so I didn't care about whatever predicament they were in. Overall, the actual book is well written and the prose made it worth powering on to the end.

L'Aussie's verdict: 7/10



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