Monday, November 8, 2010

Debut Review: The Mockingbirds

Daisy Whitney
Alex Patrick should remember her first time, but she doesn't. She doesn't remember ending up in his bedroom, doesn't remember having sex, doesn't even remember that his name is Carter. When she's date-raped after a concert at first she just wants to forget it ever happened, pretend everything is fine. But then the boy starts spreading rumors, everyone thinks she wanted it to happen, and now Alex wants justice. She wants her life back. She wants to be free to eat in the cafeteria again and play her favorite song without feeling the horror of that night. But at Themis Academy, a utopia for the best and brightest, the faculty believes their students to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect lives, and perfect behavior. Alex doesn't want to get the police involved, so she goes to The Mockingbirds, the somewhat-underground justice system her older sister founded years earlier. The Mockingbirds will help her. They'll protect her. They'll bring the accused to trial, because the Mockingbirds are law at Themis Academy.

This book has an incredible premise, but none of that matters if the writing and the plot can't live up to that promise. Fortunately, the plot of this book is finely crafted, winding almost seamlessly from point A to point B and everywhere in between. The protagonist, Alex, is a talented pianist in love with Ode to Joy - a piece of music that becomes tainted after this night. Her confusion, pain, and anger come through loud and clear, grabbing the reader with the first sentence and refusing to let go. Alex's story is about rape, but more than that it's about standing up for what's right, about justice, about a code of honor and right against wrong. It's about being brave and tough when those are the last things you feel like you can be. The supporting cast of this book - Alex's older sister, her roommates, key members of the Mockingbirds, and even Carter himself - are all amazingly well-written. Each character is there for a reason and each character, even the most minor, have distinct personalities that make them stand out. The cast of characters here is fairly large, but it's written in the most manageable way possible and the dynamics that exist between certain characters, such as Alex and her roommates, add additional layers and depth to the story.

The prestigious and seemingly perfect Themis Academy is wonderful, enchanting, and vaguely creepy at the same time, and I loved it. This is not a book "about" setting, but it is one where the setting plays a vital role and it works to the advantage of the story as a whole. The book is inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and as in that book the trial plays a big part here. Because of this the messages in this issue-heavy book are often at the forefront, stated very clearly and obviously in a way that would be annoying or insulting in any other context. However, because so much of the story is focused on justice in a very real way, it works. Not only does it work, but it works so well that some of the most issue-heavy, heeere's the moral! passages were the best in the book.

For me, everything came together in THE MOCKINGBIRDS. Alex's voice was true-to-life and full of emotion; the writing was amazing; the ending was nearly pitch-perfect. This book, to be honest, blew me away. I had high hopes and nervous expectations after hearing some really great things about it, and those hopes were left in the dust. This book is spectacular. Incredible. I can't recommend it enough.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Now I'm even more excited to get my hands on a copy of The Mockingbirds ASAP. It sounds like an amazingly well-executed novel, with an extremely powerful premise (all 10s and 9s? It must be fantastic!)

    Thanks for the thoughtful (and awesome!) review :)