I think that most of us here are lucky enough to have missed out on social networks documenting our every teenage mistake. (At least, I count myself lucky that the old IRC chats aren’t transcribed on my FB page for everyone to see: I can’t speak for all of you.) But I don’t think that social networks are ruining the fabric of social contracts or ridiculous things like that – I think I’m obviously too old and cranky for some of them (Snapchat: I’m looking at you, but mostly because I was forced to get one to keep my niece from innocently giving away too much information to the rest of the world, and I don’t do anything interesting enough on a daily basis to document with videos), but I’m perfectly fine with everybody else who actually enjoys them, enjoying them.
So when I tell you that Joelle Charbonneau’s new YA book Need is damn frightening, you have to know I’m not coming from some ‘I’m so above social networks’ place, but rather a ‘Holy Shit: I can actually see this working, and that’s pretty scary,’ perspective. Because, I swear to you, this could actually happen.
I mean, not the parts I can’t give away about how it was all managed and all of that (at least, let’s hope not), but the premise? Totally believable.
Teenagers at Nottawa High School get mysterious emails about a new social network that’s exclusive to their school. All you have to do is post about something you need, and (at first) invite X number of classmates to join, and you’re guaranteed to get it. But what happens when the majority of students are already members, and there are no more to recruit? How do you get your need fulfilled then? Well, the site offers you the chance to just… help them fulfill other peoples’ needs, anonymously, and post proof that you’ve completed your task, and then what you need is all yours. How far will these kids go to get what they want?
How far would you go? Not for something ridiculous, like concert tickets (although some of the kids DO claim these as needs, at least until they learn better), but for something vital? Like a kidney for your dying little brother? How far would you go then? And how far would you go to stop it, once people started dying? These are answers that Kaylee Dunham is going to have to figure out how to answer, and fast.
The book is a thriller, for sure, and the premise is, like I said, engaging enough that I’d definitely recommend it for most young adult dystopian lovers. It was a little bit… much, for me, how badly the grown-ups and parents in the book kept screwing things up, and missing their chances to help, but I think that might just be my own bias – I’m sure most teenagers would agree that the adults in their lives could be just this clueless. Fifteen year old me would’ve, that’s for sure.
Book was provided for free by NetGalley, which is going to be a lot more caught up once I actually write reviews for all the books I’ve read on there this year.