Four Star Review: Black Coats by Colleen Oakes – Published 2/12/2019

Black Coats recruit women who have sustained a substantial lost, never vindicated and give them the chance to help other girls get vindicated and then earn an “inheritance” aka, the right the avenge the grievance of the loved one they lost. They don’t kill. They scare. They ensure it never happens again and they promise female empowerment. Women will go on from this organization feeling inspired, vindicated and ready to join support women through traditional means and make things right as judges, cops etc. But  things aren’t always what they seem.


Thank you for the review copy from HarperTeen and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

Summary:

Men who have hurt women and gotten away with it through the traditional justice system are revenged through not traditional means. An organization called the Black Coats recruit women who have sustained a substantial lost, never vindicated and give them the chance to help other girls get vindicated and then earn an “inheritance” aka, the right the avenge the grievance of the loved one they lost. They don’t kill. They scare. They ensure it never happens again and they promise female empowerment. Women will go on from this organization feeling inspired, vindicated and ready to join support women through traditional means and make things right as judges, cops etc. Of course, things aren’t always as they seem (this is an organization rooted in secrecy rivaling that of the Illuminati so of course you have to expect there to be more to the story).  However, I’m not going to spoil all that for you. Some spoilers (not major) in the rest of the review

Although completed in 2016, the plot and questions raised by The Black Coats landed smack dab in a cultural firestorm of the #MeToo movement.

There are a large cast of females Black Coats and I would have liked more time with each. We jump into the story with Thea who lost her cousin Natalie recently. She decides to join the Black Coats, thrilled to find a family of ass-kicking ladies that are exacting scary but not deadly tactics on those that have gotten away with very destructive and heinous crimes against women. As she moves forward into her missions as a Black Coat, she realizes that some of her compatriots are willing to go just a bit further than others in order the revenge department. Slowly questions start haunting her about what is exactly happening, just how far she is willing to go during her assigned missions, but to exact revenge for Natalie.

During this time, she has also developed a relationship with a boy named Drew. Drew is instrumental in a fundamental plot twist of the book. Without revealing anything about anything, I would have liked to see that unravel without the relationship. Thea is a smart, strong, kick-ass woman and so is her team. They could have done this without the relationship piece. It was unnecessary and felt forced. Especially in a book about female empowerment.

However, the plot twist  blows up everything. Not only are things not what they seem. They are much worse than what Thea realized and then some. If I go further, I will spoil everything. So, let us get to the essential questions and important discussions raised by this really well written, important, and I hope not stand-alone novel.

Should violence beget violence? No matter what a man, or any human does to another, does that make it right to exact violence in return? Does it solve anything? Does it heal your pain or make you sink further into it? How do you let go and get closure when you don’t have all the answers? How do you live knowing there are people who will never pay for how they hurt you or a loved one? The book focuses mostly on the death of a loved one but what about emotional/physical abuse of a parent or significant other, severe heart break, betrayal, breach of trust that leads to unconscionable circumstances? Is there ever justifiable reasons to play judge, jury and executioner?

Vigilantes are a common source of fodder in the superhero world. Batman, comics and superheroes (as anyone who pays attention to my twitter feed or knows me) is a huge part of my life. It was going to be a big part of this review. Then I read the author’s, Colleen Oakes, afterword and she beat me to it. Maybe it is for the best as I could write dissertation on Batman. Ponder this from Gotham:

Image result for Gotham  quote you can't solve murder with murder

There was also another specific scene that kept playing over and over in my mind as I read the Black Coats , from Captain America: Civil War. I will end this review with this clip. Unfortunately, I’m not savvy enough to cut it down but I think it is worth the four minutes to ponder the point… vigilantes? criminals? or just dangerous? No matter what your intentions or your reasons, no matter how righteous you might feel… to everyone that comes between you and your need to get healing through revenge (and the question of that even being possible is up to each person to decide) it is a question that must be asked, discussed and rectified. It won’t ever be a perfect society but for it to improve, we have to keep talking. Communication is all we have.

One thought on “Four Star Review: Black Coats by Colleen Oakes – Published 2/12/2019

  1. Pingback: WWW Wednesday- Let’s Talk About our Reading Lives – Novel Lives

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