14 Followers
5 Following
AndiABCs

Andi's ABCs

I'm a shopping fanatic. On any given day you will hear about me buying clothes or bags or shoes or books.
The Rivals - Daisy Whitney 3.75 stars

Hey ho, whaddaya know?  It’s Michelle and Andi here!  In a small freakish moment in nature she and I happened to unexpected read the same book at the same time.  Fortunately for you that means you get to hear us gab about it.  We have thoughts people, very serious thoughts.  Check out what they

Michelle
What did you think about the story overall?  I have to say I liked The Mockingbirds better.  I felt like this book (while good) wasn’t a necessary extension of the first.  Having said that I quite enjoyed catching up with Alex and liked seeing her growth since what happened with Carter.  The story itself made sense to me, that there would be a cadre of people who rebel against the Mockingbirds (even if I saw the plot points and progressions pretty early on) and that there were some who still didn’t believe Alex.  I’m still on the fence about the school administration though.  It felt a bit too over the top, that any school administrator would be so blatant about turning a blind eye or that those that were aware of The Mockingbirds wouldn’t do more about it.

Andi
For me this book was close to being excellent, but something made it a little off from the greatness of The Mockingbirds. I tried to figure out if it was the case, the new people, the slight shift in Alex’s personality, but it wasn’t any of that. I actually liked how Alex was always on the line of deceptive and straight forward. It worked, and so did the new people. It was the administration that bothered me. It was too much of a plot point to make the head master be that ‘turn a blind eye to win an award’ like. It was very contrived and it took away from what Alex and The Mockingbirds were up against and made everything they did whether good or bad okay because the administration was the bad guys in the long run.

Michelle
Yes!  I felt like the award thing was way too convenient.  Particularly given the fact that the precedent had been set in the previous book that the administrator never paid much attention to goings on.  Also, I think the focus on that element took away from the strength of The Mockingbirds. As a group it felt far more public in this book where as in the last they were more covert and at least tried to fly under the radar.  It felt like vigilantism was being flaunted as opposed to being a means to an end.

What are your thoughts on the case that was being investigated?

I was kind of torn.  I liked that Whitney spoke to a relevant topic on a much grander scale (cheating) but part of me felt like one of the best things about The Mockingbirds was that they gave a voice to an individual who was wronged.  Rivals took away from that some for me.  It lost some of it’s emotion and urgency because there wasn’t one single person being focused on.  BUT, I don’t think this book was as much about The Mockingbirds as it was a continuation of Alex’s story.

Andi
Like you I was torn too.  I got that it was used as a way to justify the means, to show that not everything was so black and white and clear cut. I liked that aspect of it. But I had trouble believing that a high school senior, even someone like Alex, would go that hardcore against a cheating ring. There was something about the case that just didn’t work for me. Was the mystery aspect of who was behind it good? Absolutely. But I couldn’t help but think it would be even better if the case was more individualized. I just couldn’t see a kid caring about cheating if it really wasn’t affecting them and I struggled with that.

Michelle
Again, I agree!  In my high school it was pretty much keep your nose down and stay out of it. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that such things are always that way I can see where it could be this way.  But it seems far less plausible to me.  Did you feel like it was a mystery?  Because I knew what was going on pretty early on.  There were a few places where things worked out differently than I expected but it wasn’t overwhelmingly surprising overall.

Andi
Oh, definitely not a surprise to me. I saw the writing on the wall from the get-go, but the attempt at a mystery was there for sure. Whitney wanted to keep you guessing, but for two amazing astute readers like ourselves…come on now.

What did you think of Alex and Martin’s relationship?

Their relationship was the one aspect I 100% loved. The growth and love from what they were in The Mockingbirds was pretty amazingly done in my eyes. It was the part of the story that I just found very real. The problems they had, the insecurities, that is all typical high school, if not just relationship stuff that couples go through. Sure their was the added pressure of working together and not always agreeing on the course of action to take, but their relationship was totally relatable and added to the book instead of just being there to add some romance.

Michelle
I was more drawn to their relationship in the first than this one.  She was a bit unkind to him (understandably so) in some respects.  I enjoyed that he handled it well.  I do like that their relationship was portrayed realistically.  She was distant and he was hurt.  There was some spitefulness and childishness.  No Dawson’s Creek action here where they were far to wise and introspective for their own good.  I liked that a lot.

What did you think about her attraction to the other boy?  I’m forgetting his name, UGH.

Andi
Jones! Oh Jones. I guess I was annoyed more with Jones then her attraction to him. I kind of understood the attraction because he was completely separate from everything else that was going on. He wasn’t in The Mockingbirds and he wasn’t in the circle of friends that she wasn’t trusting anymore. He was her Jones, her soft place, her music guy. But personally I thought Jones was pretentious and full of himself and that is what bothered me. He really acted like he was above all things Mockingbirds and I couldn’t figure out why he felt so entitled.

Michelle
Yes, Jones!  Thank you!  See that’s one of the problems for me is that we didn’t have all that much time with him.  To really get to know him outside of the peripheral.  That made it harder to understand why she would be so inclined to give up what she had with Martin for Jones.  I do get the inclination to gravitate towards him for the reasons you mention but why allude to potential romance.  You can get that connection through friendship, you know?  I agree that he had arrogance about him and I wonder if it was intended to be felt as more aloof than anything else.  I didn’t much mind about his personality just because I knew his purpose was to be conflict for she and Martin.

Speaking of which, I didn’t feel like that was a necessary focus for the story.  There was already so much conflict in the plot already that there wasn’t a need to have a third party element to the romance.

Andi
Maybe that’s the problem that I was thinking of him from both books, like I couldn’t separate the two. I guess I’m just not a Jones fan. LOL. But I totally get what you are saying. The extra conflict was just that…extra. There was plenty immerse yourself in without it. Was it supposed to show the strength of Alex and Martin or what? Kind of pointless is right.

Michelle
I think so.  Also, I think it went to show that Alex was healing from the rape.  That she could open herself up to the idea of dating not just one man but potentially someone else as well.  In that way I think it worked well.  She had far more interaction with boys in this book and I found that aspect was handled really well.

What did you think of Alex’s character development from book one?

Andi
Now that part I honestly thought was really well done. From book one to The Rivals you could notice the change in Alex. Like she said in the book, as much as she wanted to be that same girl from before the rape, the one that went under the radar she couldn’t. She was different and I think Whitney showed that really well. I loved even in just The Rivals how at the beginning Alex was afraid to face Natalie, who I can’t stand by the way, and then at the end she refused to let her bully her. She found who she was and how being raped made her able to withstand things the old Alex never would have. Once she stopped running from her past she was no longer her past, she was the girl that did something about it and took control back of her life. You know?

Michelle
I do!  What I liked best about it was that her progress was slow and thoughtful.  It wasn’t this huge grand sweeping change that happens in 2.5 seconds so that the story can be conveniently done.  She was still traumatized by the rape and had appropriate reactions when seeing Carter at different times.  I also liked that she was able to continue to move forward with Martin and that she opened herself up to multiple possibilities where romance and intimacy were concerned.  Not sure I’m on board with her getting to sexy times with him as quickly as she did.  I would have imagined it taking longer given where she was in the first book.  But that’s just me.  Did it feel too fast for that to you?

Andi
I can see how people would think it was very fast that she was okay to sleep with Martin. But I can also see why it was important for Alex to actually let herself be with someone like that. It was more, to me anyway, to show that the rape didn’t define her and that she was in a safe place with Martin. Martin made her feel like the Alex of old so it was natural that she would be okay to be intimate with him. Fast, maybe a little, but I think it was a way for Alex to grow and for the rape to have been something that happened to her, not who she was.

Michelle
This is true, it’s difficult not to let something like that define you so plowing ahead to try and make positive changes is definitely an encouraging message.

Any final thoughts to share?

Andi
All in all I really enjoyed the book. It was nice to see some character growth. There were things I would have lied to have been different, but in the end I think it all worked as a whole. I do get the feeling of a possible third part, but time will tell. I know I’m excited for whatever Ms. Whitney has for us next.

Did you read it?  What did you think?  Add your thoughts to the comment.