Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

I was SO thrilled to finally have a copy, especially after reading so many fab reviews. In fact, it was on my highest priority wishlist since early buzz.

The Mockingbirds has a lot of components that appeal to me like mad: boarding school, mysterious society, fierce vigilante justice with a traumatised but strong and sympathetic main character (for that emotional impact).

First off ~ the first chapter is intriguing. The prose utterly appealing ~ kind of sparse and sharp and a little bit ache-y. I liked that. I really liked that.

I also loved all the little references to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and I adored the music stuff ~ the Mozart, the piano playing and the passion for classical music. It was really well-expressed and very cool. 

There's no doubt it is an issue book and a thought-provoking read which many discussions could stem from.

However, as the book progressed, I found myself not caring much due to not being able to connect to the characters. I don’t know what it was about Alex that just made not feel anything, really, about her plight. Because I think date rape is horrific (as anyone would). Yet she was so distanced from me, I couldn’t feel her emotions. Oddly, I didn’t feel compelled by her story. 

The supporting characters all seemed interchangeable with each other ~ none of them rose above just being characters in a book. They felt a little flat and one dimensional. The love interest had no real spark ~ he seemed created to be the perfect match for what Alex was going through. There was a lack of romantic tension and chemistry between them, although I could see why he was the perfect personality and temperament to support  Alex during the book

Because I didn’t connect to the characters, I wasn’t whisked into the story and it made it harder for me to suspend my disbelief regarding the set-up of the novel. For this kind of premise ~ I really need to be engaged and rooting for the main character which unfortunately didn’t happen for me. Little things regarding the plot snuck in and bugged me and I really didn't get some of the choices characters made. (I won't go into here b/c of spoilers).

I am obviously in the minority here. There’s mostly high ratings at goodreads and glowing reviews around the blogosphere ~ yet reading through a lot of them it seems some people are all pumped up about the importance of this book in addressing date rape. It makes me wonder if people liked the book due to the powerful message or if they genuinely had a brilliant time reading it, you know? 

This is what I thought The Mockingbirds would be: a powerful, heart-felt, intriguing and emotional read. I think for many people it may be ~ it is beautifully written and the pacing is done well. I dont know why I felt so bored and distanced apart from some books work for some people and don't for others.

I did like the idea and kudos to the author for tackling such an intense and relevant subject. The prose was well written (perhaps a similar vibe to Courtney Summers) so I’d still consider reading Daisy Whitney’s future books* ~ I guess I’m just disappointed I didn’t connect more to this title. 
Unfortunately, I found myself... kinda bored while reading this :/

However, if this premise still interests you, you should give it a go ~ you might connect with it much more than I did. My main lack of interest came from not really caring for the characters and therefore not caring about the predicament they were in. The actual book is well written :)

* although she is working on a sequel to this title, so I prob won't be checking that one out...

For a similar opinion: 
Books Love Affair
Wondrous Reads
A Readers Ramblings

For a different Opinion: 
Holes in My Brain
Steph Su Reads
The Tales Compendium

The Mockingbirds @ goodreads

And a HUGE thanks to the coolest Jess for giving me this copy :D (even though I didn't love it, haha)


  1. One of the first reviews I actually wrote was for this book and I mentioned the same thing about not caring about what was happening. Great review!

  2. phew. that makes me feel better :)

    It's a little unnerving feeling like you're the only one having a negative experience with a book that has been so raved about!

  3. Characterisation and development is part of writing a novel, so even if the sentences sound nice (or whatever) if this is lacking, I hate to say it, but you can't really a well-written book nevertheless.

    Though sorry to hear this disappointed you, it's very heartening to see honest reviews. I haven't heard anything about this one yet.

    Wondering: would you recommend this book as useful if discussing the topic of date rape, or do you know of any others that would be more constructive in a teaching/discussion situation?

  4. err. glad my first sentence MAKES NO SENSE! sorry.

    i mean to say that if character development is lacking in a book, it means the book is not particularly well written, even if the prose reads nicely. you have to have both!

  5. Great honest review Nomes. I thought it was great that you included all those other review links so we can better decide if this book is for us.

    However, connecting with the characters and caring about them is the important thing for me. I need to be invested in the story. I am still going to read this (since I already have it) but at least I know what to expect :)

  6. interesting- I got it from the library yesterday. So I may have a review later in the month.

  7. You know it's really interesting because as I read your review I found myself agreeing with a lot of the things you said and felt sure I had commented on the same things. But then when I went back and re-read my review, it was completely different to what I thought I had written. My opinion over the last few months must have changed after having more time to think about it.

    I had no idea a sequel was planned but I wont be reading it either. I can't even remember how it ends. The main thing that I remember is all about The Mockingbirds, but nothing really about Alex. :S

  8. I completely agree with you, Nomes!
    This book was a HUGE disappointment for me. I hated the characters - I just couldn't care about them. I am so glad that there is someone who thought the same.

  9. a great and honest review. this is in my TBR pile, and it just got moved to the top. it's interesting how even a review that's not 100% positive can actually make me want to read something more.
    <3<3<3 to book bloggers for that!

  10. I haven't read this because I've seen a lot of mixed reviews - people either seem to love it or just not care about it at all. After your review, I think I'm gonna leave this one - doesn't sound for me. Thanks for the review :).

  11. Lovely, honest review Nomes! I agree with the lack of spark in the romance, but I did find myself caring for Alex :) It seems she's slightly hit-or-miss. I'm glad you got a chance to read this!

  12. Thanks for a fantastic honest review. I've heard mixed things about this. I'll have to check it out to see for myself.

  13. This one sounds really scary. I think I should read it anyway. Important issues.

  14. Great review as always Nomes. You had me all excited then you gave the thumbs down to the characters, even the MC. I love the premise of the book and am thinking it would go so well as further reader when students are studying 'TKAM' itself but they'd be wanting to connect with the characters. Dilemma.


    Reading at Dawn Book Review Blog

  15. I have this one in my TBR pile. I was attracted to it because it sounded a very little like the TV show 'Veronica Mars'. Or that movie 'Assassination of a High School President'.

    Now I'm not so sure... hmmmm.
    Great, honest review.

  16. I saw this book a few times but It never interested me much.
    And after reading the contrasting reviews, it sort of sounds like an issue book.

    And I'm really sorry you didn't connect with the characters more, I hate when that happens. :(

  17. FAB review.
    It's such a bummer when you can't connect with the characters.

  18. I bet it was hard to post a not so positive review. I think you were very fair though!

    I haven't really heard much about this book. I'm thinking I might actually go check it out at the library and give it a go though. I know you didn't like it, but the way you described the writing makes me want to give it a chance. :)

    Love your blog! It is super cute! I'm a new follower. Looking forward to looking back at your previous posts!

    Jennifer of Little Shelf

  19. great review nomes!

    Wow, from the blurb and opening paragraph I expected this to be a hit and I'm bummed to hear it faired so badly in your books.

    I understand what you mean about the high quality writing but you being bored by the actual story.

    sad when that happens.

    it is such an important issue, its a shame that the plot fell by the way-side. i also understand when you say you aren't sure if the audience genuinely enjoyed the book or is just proud of the subject matter.

    interesting pickle.

    nice review!

  20. It's hard to enjoy a book when you don't connect to the MC. Great review!

  21. Fab review - even if it is negative! I've had this one on my wish list - haven't bought it cuz there were just too many other ones out there that I wanted more. Guess I'll wait to see if the library has it.


  22. Great review - shame the book doesn't sound like it lives up to its fascinating premise.

  23. This was not one of my more favorite contemporary novels. I really had a hard time with the whole Mockingbird group taking the revenge into their hands and the school ignoring what was going on. I also wasn't that drawn to the characters either. Your review reflects my opinion a lot.

  24. I very much appreciate your For a similar opinion/For a different opinion links. Great stuff.

    Character connection is so important, especially in stories that explore horrific actions and the turmoil that stems from them. I'm sorry to hear that Alex didn't quite capture you. I haven't read the book yet, but I have come across a few reviews that stated the same thing.

    Minority opinions matter too! Thanks for sharing yours.

  25. That has to be the worst. Especially when it comes to a book like this, connecting to the MC at least is a must. If that's not happening then theres a bit of a problem. Shame. Great-honest review :)

  26. Great review! Honesty is always a plus, especially when in a minority. I read this one a while back and agree that I didn't find myself relating to the characters very much... but all-in-all, it was pretty good. The date rape and boarding school factors were definitely what drew me in, and I'm glad to say those lived up to those my expectations. And I absolutely love Courtney Summers! :D

  27. Appreciated your honesty Nomes, it's disappointing when a novel has such potential but fails to deliver in a certain area. Loved the fact that you included the similar and different blogger opinions ... very cool!

  28. Hmmm, I've heard a lot of praise for 'Mockingbirds' so to be honest, I was surprised to read your review. But I think (and agree with other bloggers) that it's really nice and fair of you to include links of similar and contrasting reviews to yours.


Thanks for the commenty love :)