Monday, February 28, 2011

[Review] Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Title: Rival
Author: Sara Bennett Wealer
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 15/02/11
Publisher: Harper Teen
Price: $16.99
Source: Bought
Age: 14+
Pages: 320
My Rating:


I don't like Kathryn Pease. I could pretend everything's fine between us. I could be nice to her face, then trash her behind her back. But I think it's better to be honest. I don't like Kathryn, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

I saw a commercial where singers used their voices to shatter glass, but the whole thing is pretty much a myth. The human voice isn't that strong.

Human hatred is. Anybody who doubts that should feel the hate waves coming off of Brooke Dempsey. But I don't shatter; I'm not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren't on the outside.


Brooke and Kathryn used to be best friends . . . until the night when Brooke ruthlessly turned on Kathryn in front of everyone. Suddenly Kathryn was an outcast and Brooke was Queen B. Now, as they prepare to face off one last time, each girl must come to terms with the fact that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had.

My thoughts: 

Whether you're an aspiring musician, choir member at some point or other, or just the average music appreciator, Sara Bennett Wealer caters to all with her debut novel Rival. With a whole lot of the high school drama that seems to always come with music geeks, as exemplified in the hit TV show Glee, Rival is one book that will keep readers engaged until its heartwarming conclusion.

Rival is written with alternating first person perspective between the two main characters, Brooke and Kathryn, who are best friends-turned-rivals. To add on to that, we are also presented with flashbacks (junior year) that are interspersed with the present (senior year), and while all this may seem a bit confusing, it actually worked very well and provided the right amount of mystique and all-around coverage that I believe Wealer wished to achieve.

As to the story, all that I would've liked to divulge has already been written in the official synopsis. While Rival relies a lot on music and the big competition that will force the two rivals to finally come face-to-face (as they would not have done so earlier as one is an alto and the other a soprano), the book also has many underlying themes and issues that have been explored very well. While in contemporary, romance is a big thing, the absence of a great romance didn't seem awkward or make the book any less enjoyable, as the friendship between the two girls seems to act as a sort of romance.

My high expectations of Rival did not lead me to disappointment. I loved it so so much, and I wish I could have written a review that gives justice to the lessons and the stories and the emotions that this book brought me. It's one of those books that will stay with me long after reading, and one that I hope to re-read in the near future!

Rival is an addictive novel that hooked me in from the first line and would not let go. Wealer's characters are unforgettable, and while there is a main focus on the two girls, the minor characters were also given some time for development. Wealer's writing is sturdy and straight to the point, distinguished and very clever in execution. Rival is a top-notch example of why I continue to read contemporary novels, and if every other contemps book is this awe-inspiring and gripping, there is a very, very bright future ahead for the YA community.

First Line

"I saw an old commercial once where famous singers used their voices to shatter glass."

"I don't like Kathryn Pease."


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Official Site
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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: Contemporary YA Challenge 2011, Debut Author Challenge 2011, Contemps Challenge
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