League of Strays by L.B. Schulman

When Charlotte, a lonely student at a new high school, receives a mysterious note inviting her to join a group called 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 leader named Kade, who convinces them that they need each other for friendship – and for taking revenge on the classmates and teachers who have wronged them in the past.  But Kade has an even bigger agenda.

Vandalizing the school and causing fights between other students aren’t enough.

Kade masterminds a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

So, confession time – when I received this book from the lovely people at Abrams & Chronicle I committed a cardinal sin – I… I judged a book by its title.

Yes – I read the title “League of Strays” and honestly thought it was going to be a story about werewolves – in high school with no pack to protect them, which isn’t a bad plot idea but seeing as I have read a bit too much urban fantasy the idea did not appeal.

I was wrong, so very, very wrong!

This novel is about as far away from being a paranormal teen romance as any book can be!

It is a high school revenge fantasy, and not one of those where you cheer on the protagonists as they wreak vengeance against those that had slighted them.  No this tale is darker and more unsettling; it is about revenge, obsession and how far people go to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Told from newcomer Charlotte’s perspective, it details the coming together of a group of lonely and vulnerable teens that fall under the spell of the handsome and manipulative Kade Harlin.

I read League of Strays on Monday (1st October) I picked it up to read while I was sitting with the evening homework club in my school boarding house.  I read the first 44 pages in between helping students with geography, history, English and getting the maths kids to help each other.  It hooked me, and I continued reading after homework club ended.  I finally finished the book at 23:14 – it is the first time in ages that I have finished a book in one sitting on a week night.

I do not think that I was not the only teen that imagined wreaking vengeance on my peers for being belittled, bullied and insulted.  I never attempted to seek vengeance as I did not have a clique that could help me realise my fantasies of vengeance (and I was just too chicken to even attempt it).

Seeing what has happened when outsiders go out looking for payback in schools in the US and UK (sometimes with knives, guns and homemade bombs) I think that it is a good idea to confront issues relating to persecution and the consequences that seeking revenge can bring .

League of Strays was a brilliant read and I enjoyed it thoroughly!

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