Author: Sara Wealer
Release Date: February 2011
Published By: Harper Teen
Goodreads Rating: 3.72 stars
Review: Brooke, popular and hating every minute of it, wants nothing more than to use her singing to get her back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with a movie star. Kathryn, an over-achieving soprano with an under-achieving savings account, needs her music to get herself a college scholarship. Now, with the prestigious Blackmore competition coming up, they question their rivalry, born out of a long-ago betrayal. Can they forgive each other, or are some rivalries for life?
RIVAL is told through dual narration, putting both voices to good effect. Unlike some novels where you prefer one character over the other, in this book, both Brooke and Kathryn had individual voices that were easy to relate to. They were strong and well-developed characters not without their own flaws, and I loved how realistically their former friendship and rivalry was portrayed. It felt like something that would happen in real life, not just in a made-for-TV teen movie.
The plot description may not sound like something particularly suspenseful, but once you start to really get into the story, the book becomes more and more difficult to put down. The tensions between Brooke and Kathryn ratchet higher and higher, creating an engrossing and captivating tone, and the entire time, you want nothing more than to shove the protagonists together and force them to make up.
One worry I did have as I was approaching the end was that the plot resolution would be cliche and predictable. Luckily, this was not the case. Sara Wealer didn't try to make everything sappy and happily-ever-after; she chose a more honest approach, and I respected that. What happens at the end will likely not be quite what you were expecting, which I consider a good thing.
All in all, from the strong narration to the original ending, this is a story difficult to put down and very, very easy to get sucked into. RIVAL is one of the top books I would recommend to anyone looking for a good YA novel about friendship, and though there are some cliches present, there is enough of a unique spin on them to make this is a great book.