Published by HarlequinTeen
Published on 28 March 2017
Genres: Social Issues, United States, Young Adult
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A brutally honest, uncompromising story about a teen girl who decides to take matters into her own hands.
It's senior year, and Hadley and her best friend, Magda, should be starting the year together. Instead, Magda is dead and Hadley is alone. Raped at a party the year before and humiliated, Magda was driven to take her own life and Hadley is forced to see her friend's attackers in the classroom every day. Devastated, enraged and needing an outlet for her grief, Hadley decides to get a little justice of her own.
Donning a pink ski mask and fueled by anger, Hadley goes after each of the guys one by one, planning to strip them of their dignity and social status the way they did to Magda. As the legend of the pink-masked Vigilante begins to take on a life of its own, Hadley's revenge takes a turn for the dangerous. Could her need for vengeance lead her down a path she can't turn back from?
The thing about this book, about a girl who is sick of people being sexually assaulted by their peers, is that the main character was already super-capable before the book even started. And because of that, she reminded me too much of other super-capable (read: boring) heroines like Celeana Sardothian, so tough that no one in their right mind would mess with them – and therefore the boys who do are obviously not in their right mind, ie villains. Hadley already knows self-defence and hasn’t been victimised herself, yet heroically and selflessly decides to take it upon herself to deliver vigilante justice to these rich white assholes who are getting away with assault on account of being rich white and male. The whole thing just felt so much like it was written for Wattpad, or it was one of those popular self-insert fics about fae or werewolves or whatever.
To top off all that, I also thought the writing wasn’t particular stellar. This confused me, since I thought Kady Cross was a popular author. Then I remembered you don’t have to be any good to be popular. And it’s not that she was a bad writer, it’s just that the word choices and the way the words were strung together didn’t lend for a particularly interesting or engaging first half. It was all telling, not showing. There was no emotional connection with the character. It was all action, no reflection, no growth. Hadley as a character didn’t change. She was in the exact same place mentally and emotionally in the opening pages of the book as in the closing pages.
However, there was something about this book. I just didn’t hate it. The villain may have been two steps away from twirling an evil moustache, her parents were wilfully negligent and excused it by being victims of patriarchy, and the heroine was very much up on her high horse without much reflection or growth – because she was already super-powerful and super-capable, remember. A rapist lurked on every street and she just happens to pass by and save the victims.
I don’t even want to talk about how important the message is, because victim shaming and victim blaming shouldn’t happen in an ideal world. It’s great that the girls in this novel banded together to be there for one another. Girls have to learn to defend themselves because guys are shit, and only the good guys recognise that girls shouldn’t have to do this because it’s the men who chooses to hurt women.
I just felt like the execution was simplistic and clumsy, especially since I’ve been reading less popular but better written books that deal with similar themes.
I just want to point out that it’s 2022 and I am reviewing an ARC of this book I received from Netgalley in 2016 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It’s been a long time coming, with other review books getting prioritised over this one, the actions of which I regret. I’m working through my old ARCs because I feel bad for never getting to them.