This is W.A.R.
by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker
Published by Soho Press
Genre: young adult
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5
When Willa Ames-Rowan (the W.A.R. in question) dies in Hawthorne Lake and James Gregory survives, albeit soaked, Willa's friends and fellow townspeople arrive at one conclusion: James killed her.
Four of Willa's friends band together to declare war on the Gregory family and determine to seek justice for Willa. It isn't so much that James and his twin brother Trip act entitled, it's that they are entitled, and the town allows it. Their grandfather, Captain, controls everything, but the girls are undeterred. James and his family will pay, and that's all there is to it.
Except, of course, nothing is all that simple.
Each of the girls harbors her own reason for being a part of the war tribunal, and each feels she bears some of the guilt for Willa's death. As we learn their stories, we also learn what they were up to the night Willa died. The one head we don't get into is James's, but it isn't really necessary. We learn about him through others and through what we see and hear him do.
While there is a mystery surrounding Willa's death, the particulars of it soon are apparent. That's not why we enjoy this book, though. We like it because it's well written, the characters are interesting, and we want to know if justice actually happens.
More than simply a YA story, this is also a look at class consciousness. Most of the action takes place at the Club, where you're either in or you want to be. The help factors so little in the lives of the members that they don't bother to edit themselves when maids or bus boys are nearby. Some of the little people exact their own brand of revenge. (One of the workers is underwritten, which is unfortunate; her perspective would have been interesting.) Even the haves can't have enough, which renders quite a few of them rabidly jealous of the Gregorys.
This is also the story of a friendship between four very different teenage girls. There is distrust between them, but at the same time, they are on each other's sides. I liked that aspect quite a bit and appreciated that the writers didn't go for cookie cutter characters.
An enjoyable, fast-paced read.