Book Review: This is W.A.R.
Published By: Soho Teen
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Mystery
This was an enjoyable story about four girls who team up to try and get revenge on the guy they believe is responsible for the death of their friend. The story is told from four points of view: Rose, Lina, Sloane and Madge. Each of them has a unique perspective on what really happened to Willa the night she disappeared drunk in the arms of the local untouchable rich boy, James Gregory. The next morning she washed up dead in the lake at the exclusive Club they are all members of.
That split perspective worked quite well to bring together the snippets of Willa’s story, and to cast both light and shadow on her death. I really enjoyed getting a look at the home lives of these girls. Rose is the daughter of the events manager at the club, and she is largely shunned by both the staff and members of the club, so it was nice to see her make a few friends while being true to herself. Lina and Sloane have both got difficult home lives for one reason or another – rich kid neglect and overly pushy parents make a showing.
I think I most enjoyed reading Sloane’s point of view out of the four, because it might be the first time that I have read a character who isn’t really that clever. She has to lie and cheat to keep her grades up at the ridiculous high standards that both of her doctor parents expect, and neither are prepared to accept that really Sloane is pretty limited. I liked her inner dialogue about how to try and sound smart, and how mortified she is when she thinks the facade slips a little. I was least bothered about reading Madge’s perspective. She is Willa’s stepsister and although it is in her final revelations that the mystery is resolved, I just didn’t like her. She has a lot of regret and anger towards everyone really, and I felt that it was the least justified. She is also the most desperate to make James Gregory pay, and she is prepared to go to very serious lengths if necessary. Maybe that makes it more realistic though, as when you lose someone you do go through phases of grieving which involve anger.
To be honest, I felt that the pacing of This is W.A.R. wasn’t quite right. It took a while to get going and then trod water a bit in the middle, before the climax and conclusion which tied everything up way to quickly and neatly for me. I also found the final passage of the book, from Willa’s point of view frankly pretty confusing. It really wasn’t necessary for me. Speaking of Willa, she was virtually canonised by everyone. I would have liked her character to be fleshed out by a little flaw here or there beyond the desire to party and have a good time. She was kind to the rejects, picked up everyone’s insecurities and didn’t use them at all, was loved and cherished by her stepfather and all around her... it got a little too saccharine. I would have loved some kind of mega twist to have happened with a big character flaw revealed, but she just remained a sweet girl who died.
All in all, this was enjoyable and I would say it is worth a look. The efforts of the girls to wage war on the Gregory family are at times a little puny, and at others pretty spot on, and it may all be a bit convenient in the end, but I did enjoy spending time with them and the mystery was solid enough to keep me interested. Not a page turner, but a good read nevertheless.
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.