Tuesday, September 11, 2012

League of Strays by L.B. Schulman

League of Strays by L.B. Schulman
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Amulet

This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience. - Goodreads.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I've done many of these before and they've never been a problem.  But I've struggled a little bit with this one.  There were elements I liked about the book, but overall I wasn't left with a great impression of the story itself.  I hate having to write reviews that have negative elements in them because my aim as a reviewer is to help promote authors and books.  But I do have to be honest.  With that in mind...

I have to say that if I hadn't received this from a publisher, I wouldn't have finished it.  Not because the writing wasn't good, but because I truly couldn't commit to the characters and the story.  I loved the idea of a group of misfits banding together and creating a special atmosphere for themselves, one of mutual protection, but it just didn't live up to what I expected. First, I found it rather odd that these kids all went along with Kade's introduction without anyone feeling a little awkward or freaked out over the fact that he had a dossier on all of them.  If it was me, I would feel strange, and I would find the fact that they're not allowed to talk to each other in front of others to be more than strange.  Finally, there's a scene fairly early in the book where someone receives a pretty severe beating.  At that point, if I had been Charlotte, that would have been enough for me.  I think she should have walked away at that point, come to see the light, so to speak, and realize that her new gang wasn't a good one.  But despite the fact that she knows it is wrong, she doesn't do a thing.

I know that people can be misguided, especially with peer pressure, but it seemed unrealistic for her to be that taken over by peer pressure.  She allows herself to be completely changed, including the way she views her parents, whom she's always had a great relationship with.  By the time things change, redeems herself for the reader and she decides she shouldn't be involved, it was almost like it was too little too late.

What I did like about the story was the writing.  The author did a fantastic job pulling you into the ambiance of her story.  The setting and mood made me feel like I was there, and a part of the action.  This was definitely a darker story, and I did enjoy how the author was able to paint that picture for me.

All in all, there were good elements, and I think the author has definite talent, but the story just wasn't for me.


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