First Lines: I pedaled down the side of West Reynolds Avenue, relying on passing headlights to lead my way. I prayed that the moonlight made me visible. No one knew I was out. No one.
A big muchas gracias to Netgalley for getting me an ARC of this!
Ok, so this has been on my to-read list for a while (obviously, because it isn’t technically released yet), and I jumped at an ARC even though it’s been getting less than stellar reviews. An ARC is an ARC.
Charlotte is kind of a loner in school. Not on purpose, but because she’s the New Girl. She’d still be alone if it weren’t for a mysterious letter asking her to join the League of Strays. The League is made up of a few kids from school who are also loners for whatever reason. Finally, Charlotte feels like she fits in and has new friends. These people understand what it’s like to be bullied, harassed, and forgotten. But when the League starts trying to take revenge on their old bullies, Charlotte starts to questions the League and their mission. Is it a group meant to dish out revenge…or a group to make new friends?
The whole bullying aspect is what got me, I think. Not sure why. It’s not like I was bullied in school, but I was kind of a loner, a little. I just preferred the company of my books more than people sometimes. So maybe that’s what I latched onto.
The book on the whole made me feel completely uncomfortable. Like that, I’m-squirming-in-my-seat-because-this-just-isn’t-right-and-I-can’t-make-it-stop. A few of the characters in the book had moral compasses that weren’t even on the same compass as the rest of us. (Meaning instead of having the proverbial moral compass that points North to keep you on the right track, theirs didn’t even point West or East.) I felt dirty as I read, like I was taking part in some of these really awful things. I didn’t like that feeling.
I think part of the uncomfortable feeling is completely intentional. We’re meant to feel sad for the League for the ways they’ve been bullied. Their problems are relatable and things you could really see bullies doing. But the League takes it to a different level when they maliciously target these bullies in ways that are more dangerous and more disastrous than a normal high school bullying incident. I’m not sure I’m describing this well without giving part of the story away. If maliciousness could be on a scale, the high school bullies would be about a 3 or 4 (fairly tame, but still hurtful) while the League is more like a 9 (destructive and actually making people fear for their lives). It’s very serious.
The uncomfortable feeling goes too far, though, in my opinion. Charlotte is clearly being manipulated through all of this and that just set me off. Also, too much of this negative feeling had me wanting to quit reading this more than once. That’s not something authors should be trying to do with their books.
Overall, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the plot, the characters, or the story itself. It just gave me some serious heebie-jeebies and put me on edge. I read to escape that, not revel in it.