REVIEW: This is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker

REVIEW: This is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura RoeckerThis is W.A.R. by Laura Roecker, Lisa Roecker
Published: Soho Teen (2013), ARC, 278pg
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Thriller

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. (from Goodreads)

You know when you have SO MANY HOPES for something to be amazing because LOOK AT IT and then it just goes in the pooper and everything is terrible and you want to stick your head under the covers and pretend nothing happened? That’s this book for me.

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Let’s start with the good stuff first:

  • Realistically messed-up teenagers and their parents. Haven’t seen so many messed up families in YA fiction since the 1970s!
  • Each member of W.A.R. (including the victim) got their own section in the book, which is great because it gives them room to show what sort of people they are. The characters have layers and that’s great! I like layers. Having multiple POVs also did that cool thing where you may THINK you know a character/person, but really you don’t and here’s why. Like, everyone thinks that one chick is super dumb, but really she’s probably the smartest. If she never got her own POV, we’d never know that! And that’d be sad.
  • Sort of reminded me of Veronica Mars (but only in the beginning/some of the plot points).
  • Good group of diverse teens (PoC and GLBTQ, not so much economically though).
  • Better writing overall than The Liar Society except for the parts of which I’m gonna talk about below (most of which are plot problems).

So! Great characters, interesting plot, pretty good writing. What went wrong?

The UGH:

  • W.A.R.’s revenge plan is stupid. One “revenge” idea is to give the target man boobs. Seriously? You think he murdered someone, and the proper punishment for that is a bit of extra flab? The stupidity of the characters, while kinda accurate in that they’re spoiled teenagers, makes for some really bad reading. The disconnect between the enormity of what happened and their ideas of what to do about it gave me a headache.
  • It’s not really a murder mystery, since they “know” who did it, and it’s not really a thriller because, well, giving a dude man boobs isn’t all that thrilling. So what is it, then? Regular contemporary fiction with a murdered kid? I can hang with that, but when I was promised revenge and mayhem and, y’know, thrills and chills, not having any of that is super disappointing.
  • The actual bad guy comes out of nowhere. WTF is his motivation? Like, one line in the whole book explained it, maybe. Plus I didn’t understand View Spoiler » I suppose he could just be a sociopath (a la Killing Mr. Griffin) but some more explanation would have been nice.
  • Really unsatisfying ending. Just. Ugh.
  • And, this is kinda minor, but: nobody in this book knows that much about computers/websites– you don’t get websites taken down by hacking their firewalls (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN), you send their host letters threatening to sue, sheesh. (This is The Liar Society‘s “nobody else could have sent that email” all over again.)

So basically, in conclusion, this was a total disappointment. I liked the characters (outside of the ridiculous revenge thing) and I liked the IDEA of the book. If it were an actual thriller instead of a contemporary pretending to be a thriller we’d have gotten along way better. As it is, though…so disappointing.

Read: July 1, 2013

Lesson learned: unless you’re Batman, vigilante justice is NOT THE WAY TO GO. Seriously, just tell the cops.

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