Thursday, June 27, 2013
Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Title: The Mockingbirds (The Mockingbirds, #1)
Author: Daisy Whitney
Rating: 2 Stars/DNF
Here's the thing about Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds - if you aren't invested in the characters and if you aren't a fan of the way this issue is handled, you'll likely not enjoy this book. Now, that isn't to say it's a bad book - at all. In fact, I'm more than a little thrilled that Whitney wrote a book about date rape, set in a boarding school, all with a secret society who takes matters into their own hands. From the surface, it sounds fantastic. When you dig a little deeper and really stop to think about this, though. I can't say I was wholly sold on the idea.
Alex, our protagonist, really is one of those characters you connect with from the beginning itself. Her horror at waking up in a strange boy's bed, at not remembered what happened to her the night before, at realizing she was raped while passed out and unconscious...it's all so frightening and real. Whitney does an amazing job of giving us a character who can't remember her rape, whose act of rape seems almost ambiguous but truly isn't. Yet, though these events are shockingly realistic, Alex herself and her dialogue and conversations with others, from her best friends to her older sister, felt very flat. For me, the main issue stemmed from the fact that the surrounding facts behind this story didn't feel real at all. I was unable to buy into the fact that all the teachers and adults at the prestigious academy Alex attends believe that because they teach highly intelligent and motivated students, bad things cannot happen. I'm sorry, but not even one teacher thought, "Huh, you know, there might be just ONE kid who gets bullied in this school..."?
The Mockingbirds requires this type of suspension of belief, for without the lack of adults in this story, how would we have a secret society on our hands? And still, this society disappoints. The Mockingbirds only operate if/when they've been asked to, which means they don't help people unless they want help. Which I think is ridiculous. If a member of this club saw someone being bullied, they wouldn't be able to actively help them unless that person themselves asked for help. In one way, I almost admire this concept - I love the fact that people have to want to stand up for themselves to be helped and I also love the idea that teens can find strength after horrible events such as rape and bullying without having to rely on adults. Yet, this book was hardly written in that manner; instead, it blatantly forces you to suspend your belief to enjoy it, which is something I find very difficult to do as a reader.
Additionally, the secondary characters in this novel were very flat. Not only did the dialogue seem forced in some parts, but the friendships in this also seemed highly superficial and a bit too perfect. I do think Whitney did an amazing job of portraying the horror and fear that a victim of rape feels - especially the acknowledgment that they suddenly are a victim - but truly, I can't say I enjoyed this book. I went into The Mockingbirds looking for a book that was more about coping with rape than dealing out punishments; a book that was more introspective than a mock trial by teens. I'm sure the idea of The Mockingbirds appeals to many readers and doubtless this book has - and will - resonate with many readers, but my idea of an issue book isn't this. If you go into The Mockingbirds with the right mindset, though, Whitney doesn't fail; on the other hand, she may sometimes disappoint.