Don’t worry guys; in between all these presidents, I’m still reading a LOT of romance novels. The thing is that, sometimes, I don’t have anything interesting to say. That is not the case (I think) with this one – which at once was super cute but also set off some pet peeves of mine. Let me explain!
I’ve read a few books by Helena Hunting, but this is the first one I’ve ever wanted to review. Why? Because it DOESN’T DO “THE THING.” There are a few romance book tropes that super bug me, and this one has a super sweet work around and I love it. Still confused? Watch away for an explanation!
In which I review another enemies-to-lovers romance novel, recommended to me based on library resources because I loved “You Deserve Each Other” so much.
When Charlotte Brody, a lonely 17-year-old student at a new school, receives an invitation to join The League of Strays, she’s intrigued by the group’s promise of “instant friendship.” The League does provide companionship–and even a love interest–but Charlotte grows increasingly uncomfortable with its sinister mission to seek revenge against the bullies of Kennedy High. When escalating acts of vengeance threaten to hurl her down a path of remorse, Charlotte must choose between her new friends and the direction of a future she’s never fully considered.
This review is of an ARC received from NetGalley. This book will be released October 1, 2012.
There is one reason and one reason only that this book escapes with a 3 star rating:
I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that it was SUPPOSED to be this utterly creepy.
I hope you will get used to the word, because it’s going to be around a lot. Hell, it was in HALF of my Goodreads status updates. There was not a page in this book that didn’t make my stomach twist, and I’m still not sure it was in a good way. To be fair, thinking back on it, there was nothing particularly fast-paced or over the top anywhere within the pages. The hijinks the group got up to and the creeptastical things that were done were utterly and completely feasible. I think that made it creepier.
As a narrator, Charlotte is completely lackluster. She is one of those “good” girls who does everything her parents tell her. The entire reason she is invited to join the League of Strays is, as League founder Kade says, she is SUCH a goody two shoes and she needs to learn how to make her own decisions. Except for, until the end, she doesn’t. She just accepts what Kade says and does what he tells her to, blindly, just like she does with her parents. She worries a lot, but she never acts on her feelings, even when you’re screaming “CHARLOTTE YOU’RE AN IDIOT” at the page.
Uh, I totally didn’t do that. >.>
The novel finds its creepiest element in Kade, the founder of the League. From the second this guy popped into the picture, I was uneasy. The way that he thinks and acts CREEPED ME OUT. Worse, though, was his relationship with Charlotte. Clearly, this guy is bad news, but she’s like “Oh, he’s suspected of stalking, shoplifting, assault and basically all other sociopathic tendencies? Well, clearly, if he says he didn’t do it he didn’t because GOD HE’S SO HOT.”
No, Charlotte, no.
Unfortunately, Schulman did a fantastic job of making us a little unsure of who was really telling the truth between the school principal who had it in for Kade and Kade himself. After all, Richie was being beat up for being gay and Kade seemed to be the only one defending him. But still. There is ABSOLUTELY NO DENYING the amount of HELL-NO CREEPY oozing off Kade.
I say without pause that this book just definitely wasn’t for me. I avoid creepy books like the plague because I hate reading them. I also couldn’t stand the fact that Charlotte refused to make any of her own decisions, and of course hell-no relationships usually lead me to rant and rave in all CAPS. (Did you not see my review of Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey? Seriously.) However, technically, Kade never did anything bad to Charlotte. He was just manipulating the crap out of her and everybody else.
I have no idea how someone could read that synopsis and not know they were getting into something dark and creepy, but…since I did, I do have to say: if you are not looking for a book that can be summed up by CREEPY, run away. If you want a book with a unique premise and 288 pages of gut twisting without any fantastical or outlandish pretenses, however, then this is so totally for you.