Book Review: Vigilante by Kady Cross
Vigilante by Kady Cross
A brutally honest, uncompromising story about a teen girl who decides to take matters into her own hands.
It’s senior year, and Hadley and her best friend, Magda, should be starting the year together. Instead, Magda is dead and Hadley is alone. Raped at a party the year before and humiliated, Magda was driven to take her own life and Hadley is forced to see her friend’s attackers in the classroom every day. Devastated, enraged and needing an outlet for her grief, Hadley decides to get a little justice of her own.
Donning a pink ski mask and fueled by anger, Hadley goes after each of the guys one by one, planning to strip them of their dignity and social status the way they did to Magda. As the legend of the pink-masked Vigilante begins to take on a life of its own, Hadley’s revenge takes a turn for the dangerous. Could her need for vengeance lead her down a path she can’t turn back from?
Vigilante by Kady Cross:
I received an arc of Vigilante by Kady Cross from Harlequin Teen Australia in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way influenced my thoughts and feelings about the book.
When I first heard about this book, I knew that needed it in my hands. Books that deal with hard and raw subjects are difficult to read, but they are also very powerful. And Vigilante is just that.
Earlier this year I read No Virgin, a novel that explores the outcomes of a sexual assault victim and how heart-wrenching it was. And what I liked about Vigilante was that it explore that sexual assault doesn’t just affect the victim, but everyone around them.
Vigilante follows protagonist Hadley, who should be starting her senior year when her best friend. Instead, she is grieving and she watches the boys, who drove Magda to kill herself, every day. Heartbroken and angry that Magda rapists can walk free, she decides to take justice into her own hands.
Hadley was a hard character to get along with at first. She has a very small look of the world and even without meaning to, could hurt a lot of people. When Vigilante begins, we already see the grief and hurt that has consumed Hadley, but we also see her ignorance at times. There were times throughout the novel where I wanted to just yell at her, tell her to stop. But, as the novel goes on, we get to see that her thoughts do change. We see her think differently.
I found that because Hadley was full of grief and vengeance. That she couldn’t see what she was doing was wrong. And hell if I was in position. I would so want to do the same. When Hadley starts to go after the boys that raped her best friend. I felt the power, I felt great. But, as the novel goes on. An eye for eye – isn’t always right. And no matter what someone does, taking justice into our own hands – doesn’t make us the hero.
I did, however, like Hadley’s character development. Over the course of the book, we see her grow, get knocked down a bit, then grow again. It’s a great example of life and teen years. How things make us stronger and others bring us down.
The romance, ah. I am not too sure how I feel about it. I love the idea of the best friends brother. One of my favourites actually, but I felt that at times that the love interest was too intense. Maybe, if it was another book or dealt with a different situation it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. But alas it did.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the ‘wrapped-up’ ending as I like to call it. Where something happens and then the next chapter, we are told what happened after. I was left hanging on a couple of things and wanted to know more. Some issues were also thrown at the reader in those last chapters – that kind of gave a shock to the system. I felt that some of the characters didn’t have a full arc and although we have only seen a glimpse of their life, I would have liked more closures.
The friendships that Hadley builds along the way through the novel, I wanted more. I loved that she could find people, girls. That are going to be there for her. I liked seeing good girl friendships. And not such a good friendship, but a strong one. Hadley didn’t want those after losing Magda, but she needed it. She needed that support system.
I say this a lot, but books like Vigilante are needed. The world isn’t sunshine and daisies. It’s not, don’t try and trick yourself because you will be disappointed. Books that deal with rape, racism, ableism and everything that we hate in the world, are important. No matter how much you want to ignore these things in fiction – they are still happening out there in the real word. And for new generations, and if they don’t see things like this in books and understand that it is wrong, what is going to happen when they see it in real life?
Vigilante explores the notion of rape culture, grief, family, friend and love. It explores the justice system and how it doesn’t always stand for justice. It looks into standing up for yourself and others, as well as sometimes taking things into your own hands – doesn’t work and isn’t always right.
Vigilante is a hard book to read, but it is also powerful and empowering to women, to girls. It’s a reminder that we don’t let males rule us, let them walk over us. We can stand up for ourselves and the women around us. It’s honest, heartbreaking, empowering and confronting, but a must-read.
Have you read Vigilante by Kady Cross yet? What did you think of it? Are you planning on reading it? Have you read anything else by Kady Cross? Let’s Chat!