Leslie's Review: Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

rival ARC: 327 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: February 15, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.
Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.
The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.
As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?

Leslie's Review:
I was really excited to read this book since it involves two talented singers that were the best of friends but are now the worst of rivals. I thought that was an interesting plot line and I wanted to see how they became from friends to enemies. Also, one of the characters, Kathryn, sounded a lot like me and I wanted to find out how in the world Kathryn could have been best friends with Brooke who sounded like one of those mean girls at my school that I hate. But as it turned out both characters were absolutely great and I was right about the plot--it was fantastic.

If Rival was a song, I would've immediately stood up at the end of it applauding, cheering and whistling. This was an AMAZING debut novel. I really loved how the plot was very well-paced, interesting and riveting, especially the ending which kept me at the edge of my seat. I also really loved the writing--it was immensely readable and I enjoyed it all the way through.

Like I said, the characters were absolutely amazing and probably my favorite part of the book. The book was written in a first-person in alternating chapters from both Kathryn and Brooke's point of view. The author also takes us back to Kathryn and Brooke's junior year to let the reader learn what happened to their relationship then and how it affected their relationship in the present (their senior year). I immediately sided with Kathryn in the beginning because we were a lot alike and Brooke was totally mean to her. But as I read and learned more about both girls I finally realized that there's two sides to their story. Kathryn also had her flaws, made mistakes and wrong decisions, not just Brooke. In the end, I ended up sympathizing and rooting for both girls. I love how I started siding with a character in the beginning and totally change my opinion in the end--I thought Ms. Wealer did an excellent job writing Kathryn and Brooke. Both were multi-dimensional, real and totally relatable (I saw myself in both girls). I turned the last page with a happy sigh but wishing for more of Kathryn and Brooke because in the end I really cared about these girls.

I thought Rival is an excellent story about friendship, rivalry, high school and music. Don't hesitate to pick it up because it is absolutely amazing and you will surely love it. This is the author's debut novel and I can't wait to read more by her. 5 out of 5 stars

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  1. Oh how I love characters. This sounds awesome and I can't wait to read it.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  2. It sounds really good. I wasn't sure at first, but now I think I'll put it in my TBR list!

  3. I'm not sure why I haven't heard of this book but I'm glad I did now :) It sounds great and the cover is different and unique. I'll definitely check out this book and from hearing that there were strong characters makes me want to read it even more. Rival will also be going onto my TBR list.

  4. I sided with Kathryn at first too but Wealer did such a great job of fleshing out both girls that I loved and rooted for both by the end! Great review!

  5. I have been meaning to get this book and after reading your rave review Leslie, I want it even more. Like you I am intrigued with the plot and I love character driven stories. Thanks for the fab review!


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