Revenge of the Sluts

Revenge of the Sluts by Natalie Walton is both a mystery and a social commentary piece. 7 girls nudes are leaked to the entire school, and in Revenge of the Sluts, we see what happens to them.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Goodreads:

 Double standards are about to get singled out.

In this stunning debut, author Natalie Walton tackles privacy and relationships in the digital age.

As a lead reporter for The Warrior Weekly, Eden has covered her fair share of stories at St. Joseph’s High School. And when intimate pictures of seven female students are anonymously emailed to the entire school, Eden is determined to get to the bottom of it.

In tracking down leads, Eden is shocked to discover not everyone agrees the students are victims. Some people feel the girls “brought it on themselves.” Even worse, the school’s administration seems more concerned about protecting its reputation than its students.

With the anonymous sender threatening more emails, Eden finds an unlikely ally: the seven young women themselves. Banding together to find the perpetrator, the tables are about to be turned. The Slut Squad is fighting back!

“On the one hand, there was some inherent popularity in being someone who not only had the options to get laid but would also put out. But, on the other hand, female students could only go so far before they were deemed a slut. The line was thin and the rules weren’t clear.”

This review will be laid out a little differently than my normal reviews. In this first half, I’m going to review the book itself. In the second half, I’m going to lay out the parallels to my own high school experience as it was very similar to what happens in this book. TW ahead of time for nonconsensual sharing of intimate photos, and slut-shaming.

Eden is doing her best to get this story printed and her school is not helping in any way. Her school would rather this entire situation be covered up and not talked about, but the Slut Squad feels their story should be told. No one is taking them seriously, and the police can’t even hold a charge against the perpetrator as the state they’re in has no revenge porn laws. The teens are all over 18, and there is a conflict in that some people feel the girls shouldn’t have sent the photos at all, and others think they’ve already learned their lesson.

“You can be confident sexually and still be shy; the two aren’t necessarily correlated.”

I found our main character to be relatively forgettable. Nothing about her is very interesting, and she is more of an outside looking in perspective. While she does get closer to the girls and forms a strange romance in the middle of all this, I found myself not carrying about her direct thoughts or feelings. I wanted to know more about Sloane, or the other girls involved- or even Ronnie, her friend and helped on this journalistic piece. Even her own experience with worrying about photos she had sent to an ex didn’t pull anything emotionally from me- and I’ve been through that. She was very clinical about everything, and while I think it worked well in the story, it prevented her from being interesting.

The writing tended to lean more on the social commentary than the mystery of the book, having me figure out “whodunit” early on. This didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. However, I think if you are not someone who can directly relate to the events unfolding, you may not want to stick around to the end. Some of the conversations around slut-shaming and how we “handle” teen girls in these situations. So often, we unintentionally blame them for wanting to find their identities and sexual preferences. It creates unhealthy relationships and expectations for everyone involved.

“There was potential that even Eros would soon forget about it, seeing it as a stupid prank he’d pulled in high school. Or just a small mistake, something with little no effect on his day-to-day adult life. But it was inevitable that victims would never forget. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d face constant situational fear for years spanning past high school.”

In 2011, in my high school, it came out that the male sports teams were trading what they called “baseball cards”. These were other girls’ nudes. They were being shared without the girl’s consent, and not all the girls were over 18. My school covered it up, which I did not realize until I tried to find any kind of article to correspond with this event. When it came out, they gathered all the girls up into an assembly where they told us the legal repercussions of sharing nudes as a minor, how we should respect ourselves more, and the dangers of participating in this behavior. They had the girl who was damaged the most come on the stage and explain her pain, and her experiences, and how she regrets it.

I remember my ex telling me he was jealous that I was missing class for something that didn’t involve me, and at the time, I agreed. Lucky me. I had completely forgotten about this event until reading this book. The quote about how so many except the affected would simply forget about this happening really rocked me, because I had. I texted my sister, asking if she remembered this event, because part of me wasn’t even sure if it really had happened.

I was pulled out of class, to be told to respect myself, when several boys were not told to respect privacy and consent. The conversation of consent never came up, much like in this book. The parallels and conversations in this book really made me reflect on this event that was just a small blip in my life, but was life changing for the girls involved. These conversations are incredibly important, and schools need to work harder to have conversations about privacy and consent, and cyberbullying. This book made me realize how much internalize misogyny I had as a teen, because I remember being more mad at the girls for the assembly happening, than the boys who did something incredibly disrespectful.

“I feel like I’m fighting this ridiculous uphill battle against people who don’t think I deserve to be treated like a real person because I enjoy casual sex.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And thank you to Natalie Walton for making me reflect on an event in my life and have these conversations with my friends.
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