Book Club: Vigilante

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Author: Kady Cross
ISBN: 9781489220820
RRP: $19.99

The blurb for Vigilante grabbed my attention and I knew I had to read it, I jumped at the chance to feature the title as a book club read because I hope it will open up the conversation. Thank you, as always, to Harlequin for providing us with copies.

There are definite triggers in this book, and in my review, so be warned; there are some quite graphic descriptions of assault.

Vigilante is a book that should never have needed to be written, it’s a book that could so easily be the story of countless young women across the country, across the world. This is an American book but it could so easily be Australian and it hurts that it could so easily be the story of someone you know.

Hadley is starting her senior year, what should have been an exciting year spent with her best friend Magda is looking endless. Magda didn’t make it to senior year, after being raped and humiliated she took her own life and Hadley is left to face senior year, and Magda’s attackers, alone. As if it wouldn’t be hard enough seeing them in the halls Hadley is unlucky enough to end up in the same homeroom as all of them and shares some of the same classes.

Devastated and angry Hadley wants to see the boys pay, it isn’t fair that they are walking around free while Magda is gone. Hadley decides that justice has to be done and if the court system can’t do it then she’ll do it herself. She dons a pink ski mask and sets out to humiliate each of the boys the way they did to Madga but the Vigilante becomes bigger than she bargained for.

This book was painful to read at times, the picture it painted of sexual assault is terrifying but worse than that is the victim shaming that is all too prevalent. Vigilante tells the story of a girl with a crush who found herself drugged and gang-raped, she did the right thing and reported the assault but rich boys tend not to have to face the same consequences as others might. The victim shaming that followed pushed Magda past the point with which she could cope and it came from everywhere. Always reminded of the things she should or should not have done to avoid having that happen to her, not pointing out that the boys simply shouldn’t have done it.

Hadley takes martial arts and one of the officers who worked on Magda’s case comes to her dojo to start a self-defence class for young women to teach them to protect themselves. What begins as a self-defence class grows into a bonding experience that helps Hadley learn to live again and empowers young women, teaches them to work together and look out for each other instead of competing against one another.

I really am struggling to put into words everything this book evoked in me. It is terrifying to think of the staggeringly high sexual assault statistics and I’m not sure if Cross used actual statistics or made them up but I know they really are extremely high and that terrifies me at the thought of my teen daughter’s safety.

The girls in the self defence class raise the arguments that the best way to bring down the rape statistics is to teach boys not to rape. It seems simple but while the reactions to allegations of assault are that she asked for it, she wanted it, she shouldn’t have worn that, she shouldn’t have been drinking, she shouldn’t have been alone with him instead of he should have kept it in his pants the statistics are going to remain ridiculously high.

It doesn’t matter if you are a sporty kid that gets good grades and has rich parents, if you assault someone that makes you a menace. It wasn’t that long ago that there was a case in the news that sparked huge debates online because of the portrayal of a boy who had been charged with sexual assault.

Vigilante addresses these issues and sees a young woman take the law into her own hands to make the boys pay and that’s probably not the safest message to send. Yes, she was idolised for taking a stand but she knowingly put herself in danger, she went out looking for trouble and it became a very dangerous game she was playing.  At the same time it showed a group of young women banding together to look out for one another and all finding a way to move past the assaults they had suffered.

Hadley herself recognises at times that she is walking a fine line; this isn’t always about justice, sometimes it’s about revenge. Sometimes it’s about trying to alleviate the guilt she’s carrying. There are times she considers an eye for an eye type retribution but she recognises that it would put her on the same level as the boys who violated her friend. It begins by accident with Hadley coming across one of the alleged perpetrators passed out at a party and she takes the opportunity to humiliate him, only then deciding on a course of action to take them all on.

There were four boys involved in Magda’s attack and they are all guilty, even if one of them did nothing more than hold the camera that recorded the attack. The further we got into the story the more I recognised his remorse and could see that perhaps he was a boy who just didn’t have the courage to stand up to his friends, but that doesn’t make him any less guilty.

The Vigilante brought together young women to look out for each other but she also inspired young men to step in and help; to remind us that there are still good guys out there.

Hadley has had a crush on Magda’s older brother for years, never dreaming that anything would come of it. The loss of Magda brings them closer together and their relationship serves as a stark contrast to the situations other girls find themselves in throughout the book.

I loved this book, it hurt me to read it at times and my heart broke for all the victims of assault and all of those who were shamed. It raised some important points and highlighted some of the areas we as a society need to start changing our thinking until no-one thinks this behaviour is okay. I would love to see teens everywhere reading this and increasing their awareness.

Kady Cross can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and

Vigilante is published by Harlequin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Vigilante so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I am looking forward to what our readers thought of this one.


19 thoughts on “Book Club: Vigilante

  1. Vigilante, by Kady Cross, was a great read. I was slightly shocked at the assumption that most boys consider raping , sexually abusing and harassing young women, to be perfectly OK. In the story Magda is gang raped and cannot regain her life, she commits suicide. Hadley, the heroine in the story, is her best friend.
    She decides to avenge Magna’s unnecessary death by getting even with her attackers. She is also determined to protect as many young girls as possible from similar situations to what Magna found herself.
    Hadley has some knowledge of martial arts, she attends classes to learn more. She, almost without thinking, starts physically attacking the perpetrators. In some scenarios I though these were implausible. She becomes a legend among many of the girls in her tow. They dub her the’ pink vigilante’ and other girls begin to copy her pro-active protection of vulnerable ones. This was an excellent portrayal of how one person can create change, and the added power of the group to create momentum.
    Magna’s brother is Hadley’s close friend and is one of the few ‘good guys’. The perception is that there are too few males like him. I did not think the story of Hadley’s mother’s teenage pregnancy and divorce added anything to the story.
    The ending is stark and shocking. It shows that although Hadley has caused many positive change to occur, she now must live with the consequences.
    I think this book is an excellent read for parents and young adults, both male and female. I am unsure at what age they should read it. What age is ‘before it is ‘too late’? But I do not consider it appropriate for young teenagers. It provides much to ponder and discuss.

  2. Thank you Beauty & Lace for the chance to read ‘Vigilante’ By Kady Cross. I’ve never heard of this author before but after reading the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read the book… sounded like it would be raw, gritty and a very relatable story that is quite prevalent in today’s society.
    The story is centered around a main character, Hadley, who is a teen in High School and has just gone through the loss of her best friend Magda, who was driven to commit suicide by a gang of four boys from her High School. Who drugged and raped her at a party one night. Magda received no justice, as all of her four attackers were left to live their lives, while Magda had to face her attackers on a daily basis while also having a video of her in her drugged state, go viral, not only did she have to face her rapists but also the wrath of the entire school, and the name calling that went with it.
    Hadley found Magda in her room after she took her own life….now Hadley has a huge chip on her shoulder and is full of hate for the attackers she has to sit in class rooms with during school. Magda had a brother, Gabriel, who has also been deeply affected by his Sister’s attack and death. Hadley and Gabriel come together after this event, they use each other for comfort and support but this leads to love. Hadley has been taking Martial Arts classes for many years and is approached by Detective Davies, a woman Detective who had worked on Magda’s case, to help teach a self-defense class for girls.
    Everything falls into place when Hadley decides to combine her Martial Arts skills with her hate for the four guys and follow on her need for revenge. So she sets about stalking the four and waiting patiently for the perfect time to degrade each one, one at a time. By donning a pink ski mask to hide her identity, she becomes somewhat of a ‘hero’ in her region as media get hold of stories of a Pink Vigilante saving women from assaults….but something else happens….females start taking their power back and Pink Vigilantes start showing up everywhere.
    Suspicions fall onto Hadley being the Vigilante after her assaults on Jason, Brody and Adam and before she can attempt her revenge on Drew, the four boys confront Hadley, intent on doing major damage but Detective Davies and Zoe, Hadley’s new friend, thwart the full on assault. The boys are once again taken into custody and once again they walk free.
    Halloween is nearing, and it will be the Anniversary of Magda’s rape, Drew is again having an open-invitation party. Hadley plans on going and is wondering if a situation will present itself, for her to exact revenge on Drew. As midnight nears and Hadley is resigning herself to leaving the party, she sees Drew escorting a young, drunk girl up the stairs and she knows this is the time, she has to shield this girl from becoming another victim. Gathering her wits about her, Hadley starts the video on her phone and walks into the room. Drew is in the middle of raping the drugged girl………..

    I am not going any further as this is the best part of the story and I won’t give it away. I loved the story but I felt the first half lacked the intensity of the words….I could see the words ‘anger’ , ‘hate’, ‘revenge’, but I couldn’t feel the feelings relating to these words b the sentences formed around the words. It was more like I was reading a matter-of-fact diary of Hadley’s. As the story progressed though, the feelings and the intensity of situations did start to come through. It’s such a serious and outrageous subject that I expect to have strong feelings while reading about it. I loved the last half of the book….I loved the theme of empowering women and I love that in the end, justice prevails.

  3. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. Just had to keep reading to find out what happened in the end. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the fantastic book.

  4. Vigilante centres around High School girl Hadley coming to grips with the suicide of her best friend Magda who was raped by a group of ‘cool kids’ the year before.

    This group of popular, well-off boys has gotten away with rape and this angers and infuriates Hadley. She decides to take matters into her own hands, by helping run a girl’s self defence course and by getting her own brand of revenge in more ways than one.

    The problem is, when you play with fire you might get burnt.

    I really enjoyed Vigilante, it’s easy reading and the characters are well rounded and relateable.

    I would say Kady Cross’s novel would have appeal to both young adults amd more mature readers in equal parts.

    This is one story I was engrossed in and didn’t want to end. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a novel with a difference and I’ll be looking out for more Kady Cross stories in future.

  5. This is an amazing book and very powerful! Everyone especially teenagers, boys and girls should read it. .

    The story involves a girl named Hadley who is going into her senior year and having to deal with the suicide of her best friend. Her friend killed herself after she was gang raped at a party. Hadley has to go to school with the four boys who did this to her friend, they got away with it. She decides to seek revenge.

    This book talks about sexual assault and rape, it highlights the consequences and dealing with grief.

  6. So glad I kept this book to read while recovering from knee surgery
    Very graphic and it so applies to society today
    Once I started reading it was so hard to put the book down
    I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more of the same
    The author really got it right and didnt hold back,,,,,,well done Kady Cross on a great read
    If you havent read Vigilante I urge you to do so
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this great book
    Sue Cutler

  7. This was a really confronting book, but I actually enjoyed reading it as it opened my eyes to a few things.
    Magda a high school student was gang raped by four boys. She thought she could deal with it and to others it seemed like she was okayish and she just shrugged things off. But after seeing her attackers
    everyday at school and being labelled as someone who wanted it and deserved it, she unfortunately took her own life a short time later.
    Her best friend Hadley who thought at the time she needed to deal with it a different way, like getting angry etc, was devastated and angry after this happened. After taking up martial arts herself to help defend herself if anything ever happened to her, she decided to make those boys pay for what they had done to her best friend and got away it.
    What I found confronting was having a teenage daughter of my own, these things can and do happen and it makes you face situations that you never though or even should have to.
    I found it very intense at times as it covers sexual assault, love, family and grief.

  8. I really enjoyed this book. and thought it will appeal to parents as well as youths of todays day and age. The stroryline can be quite graphic but suits the tone of the book. It is not a pretty fluffy read. It covers a topic which is disturbing but a real eye opener i thought. the main character is young but shows strength and fight far beyond her years. Its a satisfying ending really worth the read

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