Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Release: February 15th, 2011
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
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: Oh, how I love a good bitter rivalry - and Wealer serves one up with all the right elements. 

Narrated in alternating chapters by shy, quiet Kathryn and Queen B Brooke, the story works its way through senior year along with junior year flashbacks. The transition between past and present worked wonderfully and flawlessly, and gave both girls more depth. They're both gearing up for a big musical competition, and they know it's going to come down to the two of them. The real reason for the rivalry between them is slowly revealed, and while it may have been blown out of proportion, it does have a bit of substance behind it. 

The musical aspect was one of my favorite parts even though I know nothing about the type of music they listen to. But somehow, it was easy to still enjoy that part of Brooke and Kathryn. The fact that these two girls had a hobby they loved so much made them all the more real, because let's face it, we all have one thing we're obsessed with  (hello, my book obsession).

Even through the pranks and mean-girl antics, Rival is strangely heartwarming to read and an easy novel to simply love and enjoy. This novel is truly written perfectly to convey two unique girls and the things that keep them battling against each other. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a great contemporary story, especially one revolving around friendship. 

Highlights: Wealer skillfully manages to make both characters easy to like, and manages to stay true to what it's like to be in high school and how complex relationships/friendships can be at that age. I found myself enjoying Brooke's character more than Kathryn's, despite some of the cruel things Brooke has done to her. All of the characters have layers to their personalities, and none of them are perfect. Rival's narrator's both have done and continue do things that aren't right, but that's what makes them human. Even the dialog is wonderfully spot-on. 

Lowlights: I disliked some choices the characters made, but those bad choices made them more complex and real, so I can't really call that a "lowlight". 




  1. I haven't seen a lot of reviews for this book, but yours has make me want to read it. The characters sounds fun and that they have a hobby is indeed relatable. ;) Not a big fan of contemporary stories, but I'm going to watch out for this book!

  2. I have had this for a while. Going to read it soon.

  3. I've requested this one from the library! It looks like a great contemporary read. Thanks for the review!

  4. This sounds FANTASTIC, great review. I can't wait to read it!

  5. I've been reading more contemporary lately and have been wanting to read this one. Thanks for the review.

  6. I'm so glad to see your review for this one, Lea, because I haven't seen many for it, and I've been dying to read it. It sounds amazing! Great review :)

  7. Great review! Rival sounds like a great contemporary novel. I don't know anything about music too but books with music tend to be awesome such as Sing Me to Sleep. :)

  8. Great review, as usual! I love music-based books, though I'm not quite sure what kind of music the two main girls listen too...? :o

    It sounds like Glee - but bitchier, lol.