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Book Review: Rival

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Title: Rival
Author: Sara Bennett Wealer
Publisher: HarperTeen (Imprint of Harper Collins)
Pages: 336
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository
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?


At first, I was dubious about Rival and only read it because its cover was pretty. I can’t sing to save my life, so I was skeptical about how good a book revolving almost entirely around singing would be. But I found myself amazed. It was so compulsively readable that I finished the book in less than a day.

I think the best thing about Rival was how I could relate. It doesn’t matter who you were (or are) in high school, there is someone in Rival you could relate to, I can guarantee that. Even though not everybody’s in the choir, having a rival is something most people can relate to and Rival manages to capture the teen years perfectly. Even though this book appears to be only about singing, it’s more about friendships, rivalries, popularity, and envy.

What made this book its best were the emotions. I could understand both Kathryn and Brooke so well, how they felt towards each other. I could even understand their misunderstandings.

Although Rival was more about friendship than romance, the romance it had spiced things up. The makings of a love triangle were hinted at, although it had an obvious “winner” from the start, which was a nice change from all the triangles I’ve had recently. Matt is really sweet, and I loved the Matt Melter (tee em). The Matt Melter was the cherry on the cake for me. I loved that Kathryn and Matt had a history, that they weren’t born only for the sake of the story.

The PoV alters from Brooke to Kathryn and from Junior year to Senior year. Being a “secondary schooler” in Hong Kong instead of a “high schooler” in the US, I couldn’t tell what Junior year was, but I assumed that Junior was younger than Senior anyway (clever me). The constant time changes were sometimes confusing, but they were effective as they fed me tidbits of the story and kept my interest annoyed because it couldn’t be satisfied. The double PoV really worked for Rival because Brooke and Kathryn each had a story to tell, and their voices were so diverse that I never mixed them up. I love both Brooke and Kathryn equally much because of the PoV, if it were only one, I’d have probably thought the other one was a bitch, and it wouldn’t have worked, because this story belongs to both of them.

Rival has it all down perfectly: the high school hierarchies, the parties, the gossip… It’s social life in high school conveniently packed into a book.

Forgive, forget, know who your friends are, and keep them.
Then go read Rival.

See my interview with the lovely author of Rival herself, Sara!
Enter to win a signed copy of Rival!


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37 comments on "Book Review: Rival"
  1. Great review! I've been curious about this one for a while now ;)

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  2. I really enjoyed this book too! Great review :)

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  3. Great review! I've actually got this one on my shelf but I haven't wanted to pick it up for some reason. Silly me!!

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  4. I want this book. I want this book now! Great review, Hikari!

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  5. Wow this book sounds really good! Great review by the way :)

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  6. I love books that switch PoVs. This book sounds awesome! Great Review :)

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  7. Great review! :)

    To be honest, I didn't even realize this book was about singing. That's pretty exciting for me - I've seen my share of catty choir rivalries, haha.

    It's always great when you can connect to the MCs. I'm such a huge character-oriented person that that's really important to me.

    Thanks!

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  8. Lovely! Your review just makes me want to read it more.

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  9. Awesome review! It seems like a fun book. I can't wait to read the book.

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  10. I enjoyed discovering this book is music related. Just for me for summer! Thanks!

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  11. Thanks for the review. Sounds like an interesting book that i would definitely like to read.

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  12. Great review, I thought this one sounded great from first hearing about it but forgot to put it on my wishlist so thanks for reminding me! :D

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  13. Great review, makes me really want to read this book

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  14. Anything having to do with singing is pure awesome. Sounds like a Glee-type-novel eeck!

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  15. this looks like a good read. Thanks for the review

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  16. I've been curious about this one, especially the whole idea of frenemies and what to do with them. I think it's going on my TBR list now. :3

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  17. Wonderful review! This is a book I'm really looking forward to!

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  18. Sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read it.

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  19. Great review! This one has been on my wishlist for ages - it sounds right up my alley, and I LOVE the cover!

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  20. Wow, what an intriguing story...it's not your everyday YA book, but many readers can relate to it because of the topic of high school. And you made it sound so good, that I really want to read it now! This was an incredible review, seriously. I can tell that you really love this book, and I can't wait to read it! (:

    PS. Your blog is lovely!

    chocolatestarpie(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  21. I can understand your apprehension at reading a book that appears to be all about singing when you're not very good at it yourself. I felt the same way after getting my hands on If I Stay by Gayle Forman based on great recommendations, only to realise that it was centred a young girl who played the cello (I didn't know what the cello was or even how to pronounce it) but I ended up loving the book. So, after reading your review, I'm sure I would easily love this book.

    Sarah

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  22. Thanks so much for the review! I've been eyeing this book for a while. I'm definitely going to have to read it!

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  23. This sounds like an awesome book! I'm glad there's some romance in this book b/c I'm a romance type of girl ;)

    Even though I read paranormal and dystopian, I still love contempory, as well.

    Can't wait to read Rival!

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  24. This is the first I have heard of RIVAL. It looks amazing.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  25. Great review! I love books about musical. Everything you just said has gotten me all worked up. :)

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  26. -Thanks for the review! I've never read a book about a musical before, but this one sounds really interesting. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. :]

    x
    Sierra

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  27. I've been hesitant to pick this up because, like you, I wasn't sure I'd like the story. But after reading this I definitely want to read the book! I'm glad that the story focuses on the friendship first, romance second!

    Thanks for the review!

    -Elisquared

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  28. Great review! Book has very interesting story!

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  29. This definitely has to go on my to-reads list for Good Reads...already at 400+ to-reads already *facepalm*

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  30. Thanks for the review...I'm hoping everything works out in the end!!

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  31. You make the book sound really interesting.I like it that you said the book focuses more on friendship and then love. Sounds nice

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  32. Rival sounds really good! Thanks a lot for your review. I am looking for more books like this, that make you read it in only one day because it's so engaging:)

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  33. Super excited about this one! Great review, definitely can't wait to read it :)

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  34. I enjoyed the review. This looks like a very good read.


    Judy
    magnolias_1[at]msn[dot]com

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  35. i can totally relate to the book! i hope i win this giveaway! thenorms_12@yahoo.com

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  36. I love it when through the characters you get a peek into a world that you know nothing about! Sports, music, whatever - but when it's about music it's my fave.

    The characters sound so unique!

    Thanks for a great review!

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