Wednesday, April 24, 2013

W.A.R....What Is It Good For?

Expected Publication:  July 2nd, 2013
This Is W.A.R.
By: Lisa Roecker & Laura Roecker
Soho Teen
ISBN-13:  9781616952617

This is W.A.R. begins with a victim who can no longer speak for herself, and whose murder blossoms into a call-to-arms.  Enter four very different girls, four very different motives to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan, and only one rule to start: Destroy James Gregory and his family at any cost.  Willa's initials spell the secret rallying cry that spurs the foursome to pool their considerable resources and deliver their particular brand of vigilante justice.  Innocence is lost, battles are won—and the pursuit of the truth ultimately threatens to destroy them all.

     Everyone knows that James Gregory murdered Willa Ames-Rowan, but no one is willing to speak out against the most powerful family in town.  Those who go against the Gregorys tend to disappear or have bad things happen to them.  But Willa's best friends have had enough and are determined to exact justice for themselves, if the police won't take any real action.  Rose wants to help because she regrets not letting herself really be Willa's friend and also, she is feeling guilty from lying to her police detective Father about what she happened to see.  Rose joins forces with Lina, Sloane, and Madge to punish who they believe to be guilty - but when the truth is exposed what decision is truly the one to honor Willa's memory? 
     I feel like this one was a mixed bag for me personally as a reader.  I actually had originally thought this book sounded like a modern interpretation of An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.  It seemed like more of a cross between that book, the Pretty Little Liars Series by Sara Shepard and with a hint of John Tucker Must Die.  The beginning gives the last moments of Willa as she is being drowned and then cuts to Rose's narration of the aftermath (for some reason Rose's voice reminded me of the unnamed second wife in Rebecca - in the best way possible) scene at the exclusive Club they all frequent.  Rose's point of view caught me the most because she was completely on the fringes, with only a slight connection to Willa.  Her Mom is a club employee and her Dad is a cop.  But her interactions with the other girls made her my favorite character by far.  Lina is a complicated, tattooed girl with no one who cares about her, except for her friends.  Madge, Willa's stepsister, is the most vengeful and zealous of all the girls when it comes to waging W.A.R. and avenging Willa's murder.  Her intensity and overall bitchiness for a major portion of the novel kept me waffling as to whether or not I liked her character.  Sloane is basically the stereotypical smart Asian girl, except she got there by faking it and cheating in school.  Willa was the only person who believed in her enough to help her try to do things the right way.
     Plot in this novel starts out intriguing and full of wonderful ambiguity, but quickly devolves into something more teen 'movie of the week-esque.'    The girls' revenge ideas for James and his demented brother Trip are juvenile at best and completely ridiculous at worst.  They have $75,000 at their disposal and the best they can come up with is hormone therapy, nude picture scandals, and stealing Cartier watches to auction on eBay.  And they naively seem to think that these things are enough 'bad behavior' for the brothers to be disinherited based on a morality clause in their Grandfather's will.  Yeah, whatever!  I could barely suspend my disbelief on that part.  Also, a lot of the girls' plotting sessions, interactions with each other and thought patterns were extremely shallow and didn't move too far past the clichéd 'killing for the money' trope.  Some of the conversations between James, Trip and their Grandfather (any combo thereof) were pretty chilling though.  It was entirely predictable, but had a very nice tone to most of the novel.  My only real confusion was over the ending.  I won't give any details, but suffice it to say that the prose was beautiful, but nonsensical in relation to the plot (at least in my opinion).  The characters were decently developed, but my favorite was a tie between Lina (who was a truly good person) and Rose, who was completely loyal to the girls who became her friends.  Sloane's emphasized stupidity really bothered me though.  It's like the authors felt it necessary to emulate all the stereotypes in one fell swoop.  Overall a decent read that keeps you guessing at the details of the ending, even if you know most of it already.  This would be a good beach read for the summer, nice and relaxing with more fluff than anticipated.
VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars
*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via Edelweiss. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is July 2nd, 2013.*

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