Now president of the Mockingbirds, Themis Academy's underground justice society, Alex Patrick investigates a student prescription-drug ring.
The drug in question is Anderin, a fictitious ADHD medication that works “like steroids for the brain.” The student body votes that cheating is a crime against all students, and Alex and the organization follow a set of contradictory leads. Although the original Mockingbirds (2010) presented the underground group's procedures as a wondrously comprehensive set of checks and balances, the sequel sees Alex floundering both practically and ethically. Believably, the stigma and doubt from previous year's rape trial still cling to Alex, and both her internal struggle and other students' hostility are portrayed with compassion and nuance. The story is ultimately driven by plot, and the author effectively shuttles readers through the twists, turns and double-crosses of the investigation as well as the ups and downs of a romance. Under scrutiny, however, little holds up. Alex asks herself repeatedly if the ends (catching cheaters) justify the means (snooping through other students' belongings), but a tidy resolution despite Alex's snooping undermines the question. The premise that school administrators refuse to acknowledge student wrongdoing remains hard to swallow: Why on Earth aren't the administrators afraid of parental lawsuits?
Slick, but, like a student on Anderin, less impressive when the effect wears off. (Fiction. 14 & up)