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 alterkate.com.

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. A big cheers to Harlequin Publisher and Beauty and Lace for supplying this latest book ‘Vigilante’ written by Kady Cross.

    When starting to read this book I felt like I was following the lives of a teen TV drama but in book form. Set in an American High School the thoughts and conversations were so typically juvenile and teen in structure. Then I investigated this book a bit further and realised it is tweaked for teen readers. Knowing this I relaxed back and went on the journey that this book took me.

    This book provides a powerful story, one that makes you analyse your views and emotions as you are openly presented with a very controversial and worrying subject matter, teen rape involving drugging and multiple ‘players’. By now after reading other reviews you are aware of the general story line so I won’t repeat it. However when reading this book your emotions are heightened and the sense of righteousness of payback is certainly evoked by the powerful aptitude of the writer. A sense of the legal/justice system failing the victim, legitimising the criminal actions of the perpetrators and the relentless bullying and demeaning of the victim after the event brought tears to my eyes.

    This book evaluates society’s views as a whole towards male versus female behaviour; behaviours that are acceptable, non-acceptable and tragically excusable. The writer makes you really analyse why and how society can excuse so much away and openly take sides based on such limited views.

    This book opens your eyes to emotional angst, the power of feeling disempowered, the tragedy of teen suicide, the sense of overwhelming isolation of a rape victim, the anger and hurt stretching to those close to the victim, the sense of not finding justice and understanding why vigilantism seems to be the only way justice and revenge is achieved.

    This book should be read by all teens. It made it so poignant reading this book as a female and feeling such empathy and connection to both the victim and the vigilante. It is also a must read for every teen male, hopefully giving them the ability to analyse their own thoughts and behaviours about these crucial subjects.

    For the marketing audience ‘teen’, ‘young adult’ it is perfect, thought provoking, shocking, emotional and a great read.

    1. this book is very much up to the fore , as they say. It is one of those stories that you really have to go thru and read slowly, and then put yourself in the same place. I can readily understand it, having read so much about what happens in american high schools, and I can understand the thoughts and wishes of the girl left behind, who believes to start with that it has been her fault, she should have been there., but lets face it, a lot of us can say that, after something has happened… we wish we had been there… this is handled with care, and when you read it, you will also feel the reasoning that went through her mind. I think it is a book that todays teenagers should also read, to find out how the justice system works, but not necessarily australian police are the same. Feeling that no justice had been given to the four boys involved, she sets out to do it herself… I will not tell anyone the end, you need to read it yourself, and then wonder whether you too could live with what happened…..

  2. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Harlequinbooks for the opportunity to review ‘Vigilante’ by Kady Cross.
    This book was very relevant to teenagers of both sexes, a story that conveys powerful messages.
    Hadley White an American teen has just lost her best friend to suicide being the one to find her.
    She counts herself responsible as she is convinced she didn’t she didn’t show enough support or understanding to her friend.
    Mgda was raped by four youths from the same college. The rape appeared on social media and the boys persisted in ridiculing Magda, and because they weren’t found guilty (owing to their parents standing in society) she was driven to the sad suicide.
    Hadley, helped by the detective, Diane Davies, involved in Magda’s case, arranges a self defence class for girls and here Hadley makes some new friends. Magda’s brother Gabe and Hadley form a close bond united by their grief.
    She has made it her mission to punish the boys responsible for the rape herself, and pursues them one by one.. she becomes known as the Pink Vigilante.
    The book was easy to read, understandably very sad, and makes you very aware of pressures and danger today. Also the fact of what effect dreadful crimes have on the victims, friends and family.and perpetrators remain unpunished.
    This book was one that really made you aware of many issues, well written and interesting.

  3. Vigilante was a great read. It was a hard read at times and quite graphic.
    We follow Hadley who just lost her best friend (Magda) from suicide, suicide that came from being raped by 4 teens at a party. If being raped wasn’t bad enough it was then strewn all over social media and Magda made to look like a slut 🙁 very sad read.
    Hadley teems up with Detective Davies and forms a self defence class for girls. The girls form a bond from the class.
    Hadley wants revenge on the 4 boys and goes after them one by one. Starting with a quite tame approach to a full blown oh wow she did what!
    I definitely enjoyed this book but at times I felt like it was hating on all boys/men in general…if it weren’t for Gabe it would be a man hating fest. Not all men are horrible but yes 100% girls need to be aware and have each others back.
    5/5 stars from me.
    Thank you for this fab read Beauty & Lace, Kady Cross & Harlequin Books

  4. It’s sad that this novel is so realistic; that every day women and girls deal with sexual assault, misogyny, and general appalling behaviour based solely on their gender. “Vigilante” is a young adult novel which provides a powerful and thought provoking polemic for young women, couched in a compelling and entertaining story.

    This is a great novel. On one level, it’s the story of Hadley, seeking revenge against the young men who raped her best friend and put her on a trajectory that ended with suicide. While seeking revenge, Hadley comes to realise both how widespread sexual assault is, how appallingly the victims are treated when they try to report it, and how life changing it can be. Eventually she also faces the question: when does fair justice become unreasonable revenge?

    On another level, it’s a clear eyed look at the way many young girls experience the world. I recognised far too much in this novel, either through my own experience, the experience of friends, or the news. There is not much here that’s a stretch to believe.

    This is a balanced novel. It doesn’t shy away from the scale of sexual assault, physical and verbal, or how abusive and manipulative some males can be. It also recognises that there are good men and youths out there, that they don’t deserve to be put in the same category, and that they too can be outraged by sexual assault.

    Hadley’s story is a strong one. She’s a fully rounded character, and her voice is entirely credible. I found the depiction of teenage life – both external and internal – completely convincing. I was absorbed in the plot, and read this in a sitting.

    At the same time, this novel may help some young readers to start to make sense of what they’re experiencing. It may kick start their awareness of the fact they shouldn’t tolerate certain behaviour. It should certainly help them to know that they’re not alone, and that there are others – adult women, other young women, men – who are willing to help them. This is well integrated into the story – Cross doesn’t lecture her readers – but it’s explicit.

    If I have any criticism of this novel, it’s that in one or two places it’s a little pat – but there is only so much that you can pack into one novel, and these are very minor instances.

    Although this is aimed at young adults, it’s likely to be appreciated by a wider audience. It’s a flat out good story, but it also raises some really important questions and should leave readers with a lot of food for thought. I suspect it will be read primarily by a female audience, but a lot of males would benefit from reading it. Young males in particular may be shocked to see the world and their behaviour through female eyes. I strongly recommend this. I’ll be using it to start a conversation with some of the young people in my life.

  5. I was really interested to read Kady Cross’s Vigilante for the Beauty and Lace Book Club.

    I think this is a very interesting and thoughtful exploration of the limitations of the justice system when it comes to dealing with sexual assault and the consequences for those let down by the system. There is also a lot of discussion of victim blaming and shaming, which remains all too prevalent in our society. It remains a world in which I worry for my young daughters and hope they won’t be too badly impacted by horrendous events such as these.

    Hadley is a very believable and well constructed character and the reader is able to empathise with her. I really liked the positive effect her actions had on bonding the girls together and achieving a sense of strength amongst the young women. I only hope such positive steps become more and more widespread in our community and the way society deals with sexual assault and its perpetrators can improve. I hope many people read this book and think about these very important issues.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace, Kady Cross and Harlequin for the opportunity to read Vigilante.

  6. Vigilante by Kady Cross is a very raw and honest account of young teen Hadley’s reaction to her best friend’s gang rang and ultimately her suicide. It is an angry, sad and horrible story about what its like to be a victim of rape, how it affects the people around you, how we live in a society where the victim is too often blamed, and that the perpetrators can get away with it, and how one girl, Hadley, decides to take matters into her own hands to avenge her best friend’s rape and death.

    Whether the extremely violent response Hadley has is right ( and it is brutal) or even believable is debatable, but this is a work of fiction…Certainly the messages that the book highlights such as girls looking out for each other, that rape can happen to anyone ( male or female), learning basic self defense and being aware of the dangers of date rape drugs etc is commendable.

    Initially I found the style of writing to be overly simplistic and a tad staged, however, the more I read the more I appreciated that the style was like reading a young teenage girl’s diary. Hadley’s feelings of frustrated anger and the numb shock and guilt she feels at what has and is happening, is captured well.

    A thought provoking and quite heartbreaking book to read…

  7. I like that every time I receive a book from Beauty and Lace it is so different from the last.
    While this was aimed around teenagers, I felt myself involved in the emotional journey it took me on so it would and should attract a wide range audience.
    I watched the series of 13 Reason`s Why on Netflix and I am 43 but I related to that even though it had some really intense and shocking scenes, especially at the end where I actually felt sick inside. In saying that, it is actually what can really happen and like this books message that it brings across it is REAL!!! Peope don`t want to hear it or see it because of the horror of actions and consequences that people can pay because of what goes on.
    I think it`s a real eye-opener and me having 3 boys being 10,14 and 17 I would hate to think them being a bully or in any way treating a girl like they are nothing.
    This book is a way of talking to your kids about these issues and not to sweep things under the carpet as it all starts from teaching our kids how to treat people with respect.
    I liked how well this was written and how it got straight into the story and it just goes to show it only takes one persons actions to affect a whole lot of people.
    Thankyou Beauty and Lace, Kady Cross and Harlequin for this book as perhaps someone may read this and make a change like a ripple effect.

  8. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review this book Vigilante by Kady Cross.
    It is set in an American high school and I found the story very relevant to all teenagers.

    Hadley White is a student there has just found her best friend Magda dead from suicide. Magda had been raped by four young men from the school, the rape was reported everywhere and unfortunately they were found not guilty. Hadley blames herself for Magda’s suicide and not being as supportive to her friend.

    Hadley wants revenge on the four boys and goes after them individually. She also goes to self defence classes for girls which she set up with Dective Diane Davies who is involved in Magda’s case.

    I enjoyed the book even though the subject matter is sad. I found it realistic unfortunately in today’s society, it is thought provoking and honest.

  9. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Harlequinbooks for the opportunity to read Vigilante.

    This was a confronting novel that touched on many relevant issues that young people in particular may face in society today. The book is suitable for mature young adults to read but it does get quite graphic in some parts. The words flow freely and the story is easy to read despite the often slightly heavy content.

    The main character Hadley is very head-strong and is fighting to avenge her best friend. Her best friend Magna was gang raped at a party which caused her to mentally decline until she turned to suicide, yet her attackers walked free. I quite like Hadley as a character but not sure her way of handling things is always the best. The way Hadley handles things may not be a plausible solution in real life but it still portrays the view that the behaviour of the attackers is not acceptable and that something should be done. It also illustrates the fact that it only takes one person to make a huge positive change.

    There were a number of other characters who featured a fair bit through the book and they helped develop and build the story. I particularly liked Zoe who is a girl Hadley becomes great friends with by the end of the book. It is slightly disappointing that men are portrayed in mostly only a bad light in this book as it may give some readers the wrong idea. It was good though that there was the inclusion of one ‘good guy’ who is Gabe; Magna’s brother, and a close friend of Hadley’s.

    I enjoyed reading this book and think it would be a great topic for conversation for young adults. The ending was a little surprising but it worked well. I like that we had closure about the story.

  10. A brutally honest, uncompromising story about a teen girl who decides to take matters into her own hands.

    Vigilante is about a girl who decides to takes justice into her own hands .

    Find justice in a crime against the sexual assault of a friend. and the ramifications of it.

    Revenge so to speak ..

    When I read Vigilante – it paints a different picture to me I envisage guns and blood and brutality. . But I am all for justice and the bad guy getting his just deserts.

    The story is raw and gritty. It hits many factors that do happen around us and while most seem to get some justice I also feel its just never enough.

    Nothing was glorified and even when Hadly took things to far she felt guilt .. This came across as real and not completely thoughtless.

    The ending I wasnt entirely happy with, Felt it kinda went to far. We see enough of Magda and her incident .

    But thats only my personal opinion.

    The writing was solid, certainly pulled at the heart strings and made things so raw and so real as we all know these things happen in life.

    Trigger warning to anyone who has experienced past traumas .

  11. 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.

  12. 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…..it 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.
    I

  18. 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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