Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The best thing Daisy Whitney does with The Mockingbirds is dive right in to the action. The story starts the morning after a night Alex Patrick can't remember and plows ahead relentlessly to the resolution. It stays tight and focused with every chapter tying back to that night. As I reader, I appreciated that because the subject of date-rape is heavy enough without being mired down by the other drama of high school. I think the narrow focus also highlighted the fact that for half a semester, Alex's world revolved around one thing - that night and all the doubts, fears and anxiety that went with it.
World building is always a big thing for me and Whitney's Themis Academy is a fascinating, isolated organism. While it's deplorable that the students attend a school that they know with certainty only cares about maintaining its reputation, I'm glad of it because it brought about the necessity for The Mockingbirds. Secret organizations are a dime a dozen, but it's rare to find one that is not only supposed to do good, but actually does. My favorite moments in the book were the ones where I found out more about the studen-run justice system.
Alex is a very relatable protagonist. A good girl, but nobody's saint, I felt for her as she struggled to come to terms with not only what happened, but her own memories of what happened. Her courage is believable, enough to impress me in a 17-year-old, but not stretch the boundaries of credibility. Carter, her accused date-rapist, was painted with a careful brush in that while he's - as one character so aptly puts it - a douche, he's not an evil sexual predator. He's a guy who has probably had everything handed to him and didn't think for a moment Alex wouldn't appreciate his advances.
If I had to critique anything it would be the depiction of Alex's friends and the Mockingbirds themselves. They seemed a little...too perfect. They all handled themselves in the situation with such ease - a finesse I don't think I'd be capable of now at thirty, let alone when I was in high school. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop - for one of her friends (Maia in particular) to flip and show her true evil colors, but maybe I've read/watched too many teen dramas. ;p
The ending of this novel was very satisfying, but not tied up in a little bow so neat it felt unrealistic. Ms. Whitney has a sequel coming out in 2012, The Rivals, that I will definitely check out.