Review: Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

 

Title: Rival

Author: Sara Bennett Wealer

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 978-0061827624

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Brooke
I don’t like Kathryn Pease. I could pretend everything’s fine between us. I could be nice to her face, then trash her behind her back. But I think it’s better to be honest. I don’t like Kathryn, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Kathryn
I saw a commercial where singers used their voices to shatter glass, but the whole thing is pretty much a myth. The human voice isn’t that strong.

Human hatred is. Anybody who doubts that should feel the hate waves coming off of Brooke Dempsey. But I don’t shatter; I’m not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren’t on the outside.

Brooke and Kathryn used to be best friends . . . until the night when Brooke ruthlessly turned on Kathryn in front of everyone. Suddenly Kathryn was an outcast and Brooke was Queen B. Now, as they prepare to face off one last time, each girl must come to terms with the fact that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had.

Review:

When Rival first came out, the book flew under my radar.  It wasn’t until reviews started popping up that I realized that it was another contemporary featuring music as a backdrop.  I loved Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, so I added Rival to my library hold list.  I wanted to revisit the competitive world where gifted musicians put their talent on the line.  This time their instruments were their voices, and the prize was a hefty check to help with college expenses.  For Brooke, the competition is about winning her dad’s attention, and expressing her love for music.  For Kathryn, it means giving her already cash strapped parents a hand with her tuition bills.

Like Virtuosity, the girls must battle with rival singers, and they must also battle with their own inner demons.  Kathryn yearns to be somebody, and when A-lister Brooke befriends her, everything changes for Kathryn.  Unfortunately, her sudden popularity goes right to her head, and Kathryn soon becomes somebody who is very hard to like.  She turns her back on her best friend, starts lying to her parents, and lets her grades plummet.

As Kathryn is drawn further into Brooke’s clique and starts hanging out with Brooke’s other friends, Brooke begins to wrestle with jealousy.  She liked Kathryn when it was just the two of them, talking about music, listening to operas, and going to performances at the local college.  Little by little, Brooke begins to change too.  She allows her envy to eat away at her, and soon, Kathryn and Brooke are mortal enemies, after their emotions flare out of control at a party.  Now Kathryn must deal with bullying as she becomes a social pariah, and Brooke is left with even more feelings of groundlessness.  Her friends don’t understand her, and she knows that they will never get how important music is to her. 

Told through alternating flashbacks to their junior year and their current, intense rivalry now that they are seniors, Sara Bennett Wealer weaves a gripping, compelling look at a friendship gone terribly wrong because of a misunderstanding and the inability of the protagonists, especially Brooke,  to express their feelings.  As Brooke becomes ever more dissatisfied with her friendships, she withdraws more into herself and refuses to confront her feelings.  There’s a lot of angst here – Brooke has so many issues she is trying to deal with, but she can’t open up and confide in anyone, not even Kathryn.  Everyone thinks that she’s one of the golden girls, but her popularity and her status as the Queen B don’t matter to Brooke.  She just wants to lose herself in her music, and she desperately wants to win her father’s approval. 

There were many times that I didn’t particularly like either character, but I did care about them.  They are both flawed, which made them both more relatable.   I kept hoping that they would get over themselves and see what they were throwing away because of their personal ambitions.  I became impatient with both of them, because neither of them seemed to be learning from their mistakes.  Kathryn grew especially trying as she morphed into someone totally opposite of who she had been before she started hanging out with Brooke’s social circle.

If you enjoy emotion-charged contemporaries, Rival is the book for you.  It builds up slowly to a gripping, unflinching look at two friends turned to enemies, exposing their faults and flaws layer by complex layer.  I could not put the book down as they grappled with their inner demons and their sudden and intense dislike for each other.  I bet you won’t be able to put it down either.

Grade: A-

Review borrowed from my local library

Teaser Tuesday–The Book of Wonders and A Lady Awakened

Naturally, I finally get some time away from work to read, and I end up getting sick.  I spent most of the holiday weekend sleeping, though I did occasionally feel like reading in short spurts.  I  polished off Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which is a very compelling retelling of Cinderella.  I enjoyed it very much, and eagerly look forward to the next installment of the series.

Then I picked up The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards, which is a Middle-Grade novel with an Arabian Nights feel.  I liked this from the get-go, and can hardly wait to see what kind of adventures Zardi and Rhidan stumble across.

Ninety days. Blood flowed over Zardi’s teeth as she bit down on her tongue to stop herself crying out. Ninety days until the Hunt.

Oh, my!  I haven’t read anything at all like A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant.  This  is very engrossing, and I am having a hard time putting it down.  I guarantee that you haven’t read a Regency like this before!

In its place welled up that same dismay she’d known on her first viewing, some ten months past, of a naked man.  Whose idea of good design was this? Why those awkward angles, and what could be the necessity for all that hair? 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Best of 2011 Hop–Win Nowhere Girl by AJ Paquette

Here’s another chance to win a free book!  I am a Reader, Not a Writer is hosting the Best of 2011 Hop December 27 – December 31.   There will be a ton of chances for you to win some new reading material for the long winter.  Just hop on over to I am a Reader, Not a Writer to see the other giveaways!  Click here to see the list of participating blogs.

One of my favorite reads this year was Nowhere Girl by AJ Paquette.  I loved this book, and found the young protagonist very unique and likeable.  I would like to share the love by giving a copy of this book to another reader.

 

To enter, fill out the form below.  Since Google is making life difficult for blogs not hosted on Blogger, and they will soon be discontinuing Google Friend Connect for us, I am changing things up a bit.  The only requirement for entering is to subscribe to my newsletter.  Feedburner will deliver an email with blog updates right to your email box! 

Subscribe to Manga Maniac Cafe by Email

This is an easy contest to enter! Just subscribe to the newsletter and fill in the form for your chance to win! Open Internationally!

Contest Rules -

You must be 13 or older to enter.

I am not responsible for lost or damaged shipments.

One entry per person.

You must be a follower and a newsletter subscriber to enter.

Contest ends December 31