Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Review: League of Strays by LB Schulman

Title: League of Strays
Author: LB Schulman
Publisher: Abrams
Release date: October 1st 2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley
Add to Godreads | Purchase from Amazon
When Charlotte Brody, a lonely 17-year-old student at a new school, receives an invitation to join The League of Strays, she's intrigued by the group's promise of "instant friendship." The League does provide companionship--and even a love interest--but Charlotte grows increasingly uncomfortable with its sinister mission to seek revenge against the bullies of Kennedy High. When escalating acts of vengeance threaten to hurl her down a path of remorse, Charlotte must choose between her new friends and the direction of a future she's never fully considered.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Despite my issues with this book, I have to set one thing straight: League of Strays is not a gay-bashing novel. There's been some drama around this book, people saying that it bashes gays, but that is not the case. There is an openly gay character in League of Strays, and he has to deal with a lot of crap from his classmates because of that. There's also a scene where one guy beats up another guy because he thinks the other one is gay. But League of Strays as a book does not bash gays; the message is not homophobic or anything of the sort. I didn't love this book, but it's wrong to accuse LB Schulman of hating gays or anything like that because League of Strays doesn't convey that kind of message at all, and I think it's important to discern some characters' opinions from the author's views and the book's message.

But despite those accusations being false, a lot of other stuff in League of Strays did not work for me, especially the characters. Charlotte is a pretty boring MC. She's an outsider, supposedly, but we never really get to see that. League of Strays starts when Charlotte joins the League, so we don't get to read about her normal life. To relate to her and to understand why she would join the League, I would have needed to read about her life at school before, about her loneliness and desperation, which is never really developed. I found Charlotte's character to be very underdeveloped; we don't see her as anything other than the self-conscious type so overused in YA. (Complete with the MC believing she's ugly and others continuously marveling at her beauty. And ARGH, I just have so much hate for that cliche.) The character growth didn't sit right with me, either; the motivation behind Charlotte's decision of what to do with her life didn't make much sense to me.

The secondary characters had a lot of potential - each member of the League has issues that I would have liked to read about. We have one girl whose mom is an alcoholic, one girl whose sister committed suicide, and one gay guy who has to deal with being bullied. But sadly, these characters fall flat; they're basically just cardboard cutouts of the issues they're representing, and we never get to look beneath the surface.

***This paragraph sort of has mild spoilers, but the story is completely predictable and I don't see how any could not know where this is going, so I don't think it'd matter to read on.***
Then there's Kade, the character that pissed me off the most. He's the leader of the League, the one who organizes everything. He's supposed to be mysterious and intriguing, but to me, it was always obvious that he'd turn out to be a bad guy. The only thing he has going for him is that he's hot, making Charlotte immediately start pining for him, even though he treats her like crap. To me, he was nothing but creepy. A story like this one would have needed gradual development; he should have seemed like a good guy at first, and then his revenge plans should have gradually gotten more and more extreme until getting completely out of control. But that's not the case; what he wants the League to do is messed up from the start, and it doesn't even make sense. That made it kind of hard for me to see the point of the whole story. I also didn't like how, in the end, it's just decided that Kade is now a bad guy and that now everyone accepts it; we never get to know why he does what he does.

Despite all of the issues I had with the characters, I did like LB Schulman's writing. The style flows really nicely, making League of Strays a very quick read. The pace is good and moves the story along quickly.

All in all, League of Strays was a very underwhelming read for me. I liked the set-up, but underdeveloped characters and a very predictable plot made it hard for me to enjoy the story. It's a relatively quick read, but it doesn't handle the issues in a way that would have made the reading experience worthwhile for me.


  1. Not one for me. Right now I need some fun, light reading. This is not it.

  2. I wasn't planning to read this book in the first place and your review only adds to the conclusion that this isn't a book for me :) Great honest review.


Please leave a comment - I love to hear what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...