Title: This Is W.A.R.
Authors: Lisa Roecker & Laura Roecker
Published: Expected July 2013, Soho Teen
Format: Edelweiss Galley (Still available!)
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.
This book is not in a genre that I usually read, but I saw it on Edelweiss and the cover instantly drew me in. Seriously, it is just gorgeous. And then I read the blurb, and it felt like something ripped from the stories on Dateline or similar news show, and I was completely interested. In fact, in my head it was kind of narrated in a way like they do on Dateline. But that’s just my own weird personality.
The introduction starts with Willa Ames-Rowan, and she is drowning. She’s not just drowning, she is being murdered, and you are along for the ride in her point of view. It is dark and haunting, and even with that being said, it’s a bit beautiful. The writing will definitely grab you right from that first page.
And then as we move into the book we get sections told in the point of view of four girls, all friends with Willa. We hear from Rose, Lina, Sloane, and Madge (who is also her step-sister). Through them we get to piece together the puzzle of events that led up to this young beauty’s demise. See, Willa was well liked by everyone. At first I thought there must be something wrong; a skeleton of evil under the skin of a princess. But no, she was just one of those rare creatures who thinks of others and befriends them. She saw people’s weaknesses and made them feel like they were something to be proud of. And through the story, you get to know Willa more with every chapter. I know I was as enamored with her as everyone else was.
First we start with Rose. Her mother is an events planner at the country club where everyone basically lives, and her father is a police detective. She is shy and quiet, and not a part of the in crowd at all. But Willa was her friend, and she wants to do by right by her. I really felt her frustration and sadness. She began to evolve through the story, too. Like how they say pink is the new black, or whatever comparison you’d like, I often felt like Rose was the new Willa.
And then you have Lina, the frumpy girl who turned into a beauty. And now she rebels against everything she can, with her platinum hair and tattoo covered skin. She’s only got a few friends, and Willa was one of her very best.
Then you meet Sloane, the Asian girl trying to live up to her parents’ – and everyone else’s expectations. But she has some secrets, just like everyone else in their group. She was shy and quiet, and every once in a while she’d surprise you with something.
And lastly, Madge. She never really grew on me as a person. She’s Willa’s stepsister, and she is the one most hell bent on vengeance. I liked her well enough, but something just seemed a little off, and I just didn’t click with her on a personal level. Even though she wasn’t my favorite, her character practically screamed at you from the pages. She is definitely interesting.
What happens at Hawthorne stays at Hawthorne. It’s attended by the wealthy and privileged. And at the helm is The Captain, who calls the shots, and his heirs, James and Trip. James and Trip are seemingly as bad as they can be, without ever paying the price. They live life the way they want, accountable to no one. And so when one of them is secretly accused of killing Willa, it is swept under the rug. Much like everything else that these boys do. Honestly, I felt both of them were very enigmatic. I did like one more than other, but it’s a secret who!
This story quickly made me feel like I was invested in the story. There were secrets everywhere. The mystery of it all was fantastic. Over and over it’s repeated that Willa is dead. It didn’t feel repetitive, but rather, it felt like it was driving it home. It was a constant reminder of everyone’s grief, and their reason for revenge. There is more than one evil genius in this book, and it’s hard at times to know who is trustworthy and who is not. The characters were fabulous and diverse. The backdrop of the country club was terrific, with lots of skeletons in the closet. If you are a fan of murder mysteries, I think you will definitely enjoy this book.
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See this book on Edelweiss
Lisa Roecker on Goodreads
Laura Roecker on Goodreads