Title: League of Strays
Author: L.B. Schulman
Publication date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Length: 288 pages
Age group: Young Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.
League of Strays has been quite a roller coaster ride for me. Even though the plot intrigued me from the very beginning and it was very mysterious from start to finish, it took me a while to get into the story. I couldn’t really relate to the main characters at first and something was missing, something I couldn’t really put my finger on. But then it all changed and I read the second half of the book in one sitting, gripping the book with white knuckles, not having a clue what was about to happen. League of Strays turned out to be a fascinating and suspenseful novel with a thought-provoking message and I fell in love with it.
I think the reason why it took me a while to get into the story was the fact that everything happened so suddenly. There’s no introduction, or any kind of reference to who these characters are – the very first time we meet them is when they first meet up with a group of strangers, also known as the League of Strays. We know very little about them and they know nothing about each other either, which is what I didn’t really like in the few chapters. I would have liked to get to know them a little bit better, or find out what they have been through in the past few years before they joined the league. But – and here comes the important bit – other than that, I loved everything else about it.
I love the fact that the characters are both similar but yet very different as well. There’s Nora, the Goody Two-Shoes who has perfect grades and who wanted to please her parents all her life, Zoe, who spent most of her life looking after her alcoholic mother, Charlotte, the new girl at school with no friends, Richie, a shy (gay) boy from school who’s constantly bullied and Kade, a creepy and manipulative guy who is trying to take revenge on who have ever wronged him. Kade actually freaked me out and I think Schulman did a great job with his character. You won’t like him but that’s the whole point. He’s terribly creepy but at the same time everyone else in the book finds him quite charismatic. They instantly accept him as their leader and fall for everything he says – and I just couldn’t help wondering, ‘How far could this go?’.
But more importantly, I really like the message the book conveys. It proves that just because someone bullies you, getting back at them is not a solution and it leads nowhere, and the fact that they were mean to you doesn’t mean that you should do the same and become one of them. It’s a fast-paced mystery with diverse characters and a wonderful message, a book you won’t be able to put down once you began. I really enjoyed reading it!
“I pedaled down the side of the road, relying on passing headlights to lead my way. No one knew I was out here. No one. What if a car slammed into me, knocking me into a ditch? If I didn’t die from my injuries, I’d freeze to death long before anyone spotted my crumpled bike.”