Review: #scandal

scandalcover

Title: #scandal

Author: Sarah Ockler

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: June 17, 2014

Goodreads / Author’s website / Author’s twitter

This deliciously social media-themed cover immediately caught my eye on the shelf of new arrivals at Barnes and Noble last week, so I put it on hold ASAP. It turned out to be an entertaining novel, although I did take issue with a few things.

First, an excessively long summary from the author’s website:

Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag — Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…

As that summary basically explains the entire plot of the novel, there’s not much else I can say in that regard. Lucy’s quest to find the villain who hacked her Facebook and uploaded those pictures is fun to follow, and I definitely didn’t guess the culprit in advance. It was gratifying to watch her have to decide who to trust and what to put her faith into. I also appreciated the strong stance against cyberbullying, and the emphasis of the idea that bullying online can easily translate to bullying in real life – though both are equally harmful. I can definitely see high schoolers reading this book and loving the drama, but also walking away with a strong and positive message.

However, one of my main issues with this book was that in five years, maybe less, it will be completely outdated. Facebook plays a huge role in the story, as does social media in general. This is current and relevant now, but maybe not so in the future. But strangely enough, there were so many other pop culture references that I got lost. At one point, Lucy – an avid gamer – has a two-page conversation about an analogy to The Walking Dead, which I simply skipped over because I’ve never watched the show or read the comics. There are also a plethora of Hunger Games references and allusions. Even weirder were the references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars. Do teens nowadays even know who those characters are? For a novel that was so up-to-date the rest of the time, certain things like these stuck out and confused me. An unrelated complaint of mine is that the action of the novel was drawn out for entirely too long. The 400 page book could have easily been 200 pages, in my opinion.

But overall, I did find it a fun read. Lucy’s allies were endearing and unique, and the tone of the book was comedic, with a few darker undertones. The chapter titles made me laugh every time. If you like contemporary mysteries with a little romance and a lot of comedy thrown in, you might as well give this one a try.

3 out of 5 stars.

Tara

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