The Black Coats

(By: Colleen Oakes)


Roses are read, violets are blue, if you hurt us, we’re coming for you.

The deeply secretive Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who hurt girls and women for years. And Thea has just received an invitation to join them. This is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to finally get justice for her cousin Natalie, whose killer went free.

Thea dives head first into the group, training every day with other girls whose stories rival hers. Together they carry out Balancings—acts of revenge guaranteed to teach a lesson. With every predator threatened, every blackmailer exposed, and every date rapist punished, Thea can feel herself getting closer to avenging Natalie’s death.

But then the Balancings begin to escalate in brutality, and Thea discovers that the Black Coats are not all they seem to be. Thea must confront just how far she’s willing to go for justice—and what kind of justice Natalie, and Thea herself, deserve. Because when the line between justice and revenge is razor thin, it’s hard not to get cut.

Expected Publication February 12th 2019 by HarperTeen*


I gave this book 3 stars. I really enjoyed the idea behind the premise, and the strength of the girls in this story as they worked to right some awful wrongs and ended up healing in their own unique ways.

Content and trigger warnings: for rape, rape culture, sexual assault, physical abuse, emotional abuse and grief.

The friendships between Thea and her Black Coats team made this book. I loved the way in which Colleen wove their stories together and showed how strong friendships can blossom between the unlikeliest of people. This story really reminded me that we are always more alike than we think. The romance was fun, but I liked that it didn’t take away from Thea’s main purpose or her friendships. It was a refreshing example in YA to have a relationship that didn’t become all consuming for the female MC.

I also really enjoyed the big moral questions at play in this book: Does vigilante justice even the playing field? Does getting revenge help heal old wounds? Can people who have done awful things change?

The plot was inherently entertaining with a secret society running the show, but I found myself taking a while to really get into the story. It picked up a lot towards the end when things were coming to a climax with events and twists that I didn’t see coming.

My biggest critique is that a bit of the writing flirted the line of being too clique for me. While the premise was unique, aspects of the story felt familiar and overly done in YA (obviously overstated emotions from the MC, clique phrases or descriptors, and a bit of unrealistic stretches for a contemporary novel).

Overall, I enjoyed this read and I appreciate that it is a very relevant story right now (hello #metoo movement). It was an important story to tell and it showed a different take on approaching both grief and healing.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review!


The Black Coats Book Aesthetic




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