Release Date: December 15, 2009
Synopsis from Amazon
This book is inspired by true events and based upon real people, places and events. Out of many, Mike Zander is the one: the only one. He had fame, love, success and admiration; he hated them all. He lost everything he ever had for a sister that was never his; one that slipped through his fingers like one slipped on bloody tiles. Scars of loyalty seared themselves into his soul; scars that force him to remember them when he only wishes to forget; he left them many years ago, but still, they follow him. How long will they continue to pester the present and fiddle with his future? Mike Zander is a loyalist; caring about others more than he does about himself. Having applied and been accepted into the most prestigious educational institute the country has to offer, Mike enters the quixotic world of SOS. SOS - the prestigious School of Scholars or, as Mike quickly learns to rename it, the School of Scoundrels. It is here he learns how easily the outside beauty of people can mask their inner ugliness and infestations, and how the exact opposite can apply. It is here, at SOS, that he learns to determine in whom to put his trust and whom to avoid. It is at SOS that he observes the death of his sister and is arrested as her murderer. Upon his exit from jail, Mike vows to find her murderer, yet who is the woman who bears his sister's exact name? Mike has to find the answer to this question and many more before his revenge is complete. Mike, as said, is a loyalist. What are you? Will you journey with Mike and find out whether you are a loyalist like him or a quixotic like the rest of the campus population?
The Strange Loyalist follows a man named Mike who is starting his first year of grad school. He got accepted into SOS, School of Scholars. He is very happy to know that his hard work has paid off given that they only accept 125 students. But Mike's excitement quickly wears off when he realizes the school isn't all it is cracked up to be. Mike sees he is surrounded by people who are are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. The same thing goes for the teachers. Things take a huge turn for Mike when his favorite teacher's son dies and his relationship with the teacher grows. They become family and many don't approve including those he is close to.
I hated and loved this book. Mike was a good character to follow He was very smart and helpful. But his helpfulness worked against him since he makes “friends” with people who have no problem using him. Not only are the students of questionable characters, but the teachers are also questionable. They discriminate against the students. There seem to be some who favor the female students over the male students. I did like through all the adversity Mike went through, he had Madam Shirley. She was there for him when no one listened to him (beside Marlboro). They become like best friends despite their age differences. Madam Shirley was such a sweet woman and I loved how she was there for Mike. Well, how they were there for each other, specifically after Madam Shirley's son, Adam, commits suicide.
The plot quickly changes after Adam's death and Christmas break She starts to treat him differently and just starts acting differently toward Mike. There is a wedge between the two of them even though Mike has been there for Shirley even after she was sick. An even bigger twist occurs when tragedy also strikes Shirley and Mike ends up in jail for it. Mike takes a turn for the worst and he does whatever it takes to make things right.
I won't lie, there was a point in this book I got really pissed. Be prepared for a few complaints. When Mike goes to jail, there were just little things that were done that didn't make sense to me. Then when he was released from jail, it makes even less sense. As much as I liked the “brother-sister” relationship between Mike and Shirley, I don't understand why Mike didn't fight for his real family. He could have at least tell them what happened and while in jail, they could have done some investigation. Why not fight for your real family that raised you? Then when he leaves, he meets his friends from before going to jail. They are so happy to see him and they say they miss him. But none of them ever visited him in jail. No one did except for someone who knows he is innocent and suddenly wants to help. Why didn't they do more as well? It makes no sense. Then the biggest thing was that Mike did something very extreme to one of the teachers for doing something quite rude. I didn't like that like specifically because it could have been avoided. I love how dark the book was though and the teacher was scum, but that was uncalled for. It just seem sudden and a bit out of character since Mike still worries about being rude and impolite to people.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. The last few chapters were amazing and I didn't see that coming. While the reason why Mike gets sent to jail also made me mad (seriously, this is why talking is so important). I really loved the visit to Russia. I would have liked it if the book was set here longer because we meet Tatiana and I really liked her. This book was well written although some of the dialogue was a tad bit formal. I was screaming at the book in the middle, but it did make me happy in the end. Zia's style definitely gives a little twist to the average revenge story and I was glad to have read this. I would recommend this.
*This book belongs in the following challenges*Dead Book Darling's The 2012 Short Story Challenge!