Title: The Rivals
Author: Daisy Whitney
Release Date: February 2012
Published By: Little, Brown
Goodreads Rating: 3.83 stars
Review: Alex is now the head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students acting as a judicial force for the student body, but a case has sprung up that she doesn't quite know how to deal with: a prescription drug ring. There's no victim but plenty are hurt by it, and each new piece of information drives a wedge between herself and everyone she cares about. As she unravels the layers of deceit, she discovers that her search for justice may reveal more about herself than expected.
I read the first novel in this series, The Mockingbirds, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't anything particularly special and lacked a certain power and depth that I wanted to it. In contrast, although it's not going to make my best books of the year list or anything, I found THE RIVALS to be much more powerful and a bit harder to put down than the first book, by a wide margin.
The premise itself was intriguing. It can be hard to continue making a series like this feel fresh once the initial excitement over the beginning premise is over, but Daisy Whitney managed to write a sequel that has an even more tantalizing concept than the first one. All the other cases dealt with by the Mockingbirds had been very simple and clear-cut in terms of who was hurt and who was the bad guy, but a prescription drug ring is significantly more complicated. Who's the victim? Who's the perpetrator? The case was wrapped in further levels of complexity as layers upon layers of deceit were revealed to exist in the school.
Even more than the premise, though, I loved that various themes were explored to much more depth in this book, making it a more interesting and fulfilling read overall. Apart from the obvious themes of cheating and justice, interpersonal relations between the characters were dug into without feeling like a soap opera in the least, and Alex had a fantastic introspective voice that showed her growth in maturity from the first novel.
All in all, THE RIVALS was a fresh and brilliant sequel to The Mockingbirds that brought plenty of fascinating themes and a brand-new premise to the table. From the new depth to the thoughtfully-written characters, this book is one that's near impossible to put down. If there's a sequel to this one, I'm definitely picking it up!