Vigilante – Kady Cross – Harlequin Teen – Published 28 March 2017
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?
I have always loved Kady Cross’ series The Steampunk Chronicles, so I was very excited to read Vigilante – a change in genre but a book that sounded incredibly intense and with an interesting way to approach the subjects of sexual assault and a community’s response to rape.
Hadley’s best friend Magda was raped by four classmates. A few months later, Magda is dead, having taken her own life. Hadley is left with a drowning sense of grief and guilt. She has to see the four boys in her classroom everyday as the four of them were never charged. When a sudden opportunity arises, Hadley decides to create some of her own justice and plans to go after each of the boys who hurt her friend. But when a video of her going after the first guy in a pink ski mask goes viral, the Pink Vigilante is born and Hadley’s journey for revenge gets much bigger than she ever imagined.
Let me just say, some of the people of Hadley’s town and school totally deserved everything Hadley dished out to them, and more. Corrupt systems biased by influence and money are no doubt, sadly, very realistic in many cases. But I liked how so many people started to rally behind the Pink Vigilante. But that begs the question, did some people do that because they wanted to stop violence towards women or because it involved violence? This book will spark many important discussions, things that need to be talked about and not shuffled to the dark, hidden corners of our world.
Hadley is an interesting character. Very realistic, I thought. I liked how she wasn’t always the person she wanted to be. She is flawed. She grew impatient with Magda and is angry at a lot of people, especially herself. As she acts as the Pink Vigilante she doubts if it is the right thing to do and wonders how it will change her. What makes her different from the boys who hurt her friend?
Hadley’s inner monologues got a little preachy at times, particularly about girls who don’t understand the risks or the way society treats both the survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence. Good points, perhaps, but she would often repeat herself, thinking and saying the same things many times. Because of this, the writing style of this book is a little clunky. With repetitive sections and really obvious explanations, it lacks the delicate way that some books have of saying something without even saying it. But, nonetheless, this is an easy book to read. There is suspense and action as well as the introspection, friendship, family, and romance aspects. I wasn’t sure how exactly it would Vigilante would unfold. Nor, what it’s final message would be. Is it okay to use violence to combat violence? When it is time to stand up and say enough? What should the consequence for sexual assault be? I certainly liked the point that to prevent sexual assault people must simply not to commit sexual assault, rather than placing the responsibility on girls to wear particular clothing or act in certain ways.
Vigilante is not for the faint hearted. There are many description of rape and violence, some quite detailed. It is certainly an intense book. Personally, I enjoyed reading Vigilante, but its true value lies in being a conversation starter, addressing important topics. Vigilante is just as much a book about the survivors of sexual assault as is it about the family and friends of those survivors. It is about the family and friends of people who suicide. It is about grief, guilt, justice and revenge. And it is about community, standing together.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Sexual assault, rape, teenage violence, bullying, revenge, justice, suicide, friendship, grief, guilt, romance, self-defence, high school.
Reading age guide: Ages 15 and up.
Advisory: Strong, detailed descriptions of sexual assault. Descriptions of violence, fights and targeted attacks. Sexual references and implied sex scenes. Strong, frequent coarse language, f***, sh**, sl**, wh***, dou***.
Published: 28 March 2017 by Harlequin Teen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 352 pages.