Tuesday, September 4, 2012

League of Strays by L.B. Schulman

League of Strays

League of Strays is your modern day psychological thriller for YA readers.  While that seems like a loaded statement, League of Strays also  had some missed opportunities.  

In the beginning the reader is introduced to Charlotte, your average boring good girl senior, who happens to be new in town.  She is on her way to a clandestine meeting in the woods.  Charlotte is not the only one that has received an invite.  Soon she meets up  with the class valedictorian (Nora) and and the resident bad chick with a bad attitude (Zoe).  The person that called to order this first meeting of the League of Strays is mysterious Kade, along with his best-friend Richy.  Kade explains that they are all social misfits.  That they have been preyed and hassled for their whole lives for no reason and frankly it is time to get payback.  

 The minute I started to read this book I decided to look at the cover on Goodreads.com  unfortunately I just saw a whole bunch of reviews about how this book deals with the glorification of bullying and also gay bashing; however, that was not my experience at all.  I for one read and watch documentaries about famous killers, cult leaders and also child killers, so Kade immediately started to glow neon colors when I read some of his initial remarks and also Charlotte's perception of him.  The minute he discloses that he has been "profiling" this group I already know he's psychotic.  For those that believe this book to be a glorification of bullying, look at Charles Manson.  He was able to rally young people to do horrible things.  So when that is on the news or someone writes about it, is it glorification?  I do not want to give away the ending but nothing that happens shows that an eye for eye is the best thing to do and that you will be a hero for bullying your tormentors. 

 Actually, I liked this book because it shows how misfits can ban together for the common goal of destroying those that they feel deserve it.  It shows society how this occurs and ultimately Goodreads.com members have given an example by going ballistic on the author.  There is also the point that the author did not make this a lesson to be learned book but more of an observation of what would occur if you or any other person made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons, like the characters of this novel.  Honestly the minute they ban together how are you suppose to get to a rainbow at the end?  Just going along with Kade's ideas puts a damper on happy endings.

To comment on the gay bashing scene:  I have seen real gay bashing, I have read and learned about real gay bashing that has occurred since at least 1970s and they are not pretty, never will be; however, it is a common thing that occurs in life, high school or other wise.  Why should the author not write about it, not include it in the many plans in getting back those that bully gays?  I don't think she wrote the scene and was like "Hahaha I hate gays!"  Nope I think her characters took route to things that the norm wouldn't, that maybe she would never think of or others that have been tormented think of doing.  The characters were misguided and ridiculous, which makes me want to point out that not everyone that is bullied kills themselves, sometimes they kill others or torment them.  This book is about the latter.

Comments on Characters:  I am still a supporter of this book just because some people don't know how to read a book and then have a real educated opinion; however, the characters lack... character.  Charlotte doesn't develop a bad bone until the end and no one wants to get Kade mad.  I can understand the psychology that supports this behavior from the other members but Charlotte and Nora lacked conviction.  Kade was well done, he is one scary MOFO and believable as a sociopath.

I would recommend this to people with open minds.

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