Thursday, November 12, 2015

Need by Joelle Charbonneau

Title: Need
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date:
Nov 3, 2015

The Gist:
"No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better."

Teenagers at Wisconsin's Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

Need is a website that promised Nottawa High School students their heart's desire in exchange for completing the tasks that it sets forth.  At first, this involves sending invites to other students, then a simple task like delivering a box of cookies.  Very quickly, however, things turn sinister as these tasks lead to the very real deaths of students and adults and Kaylee must find out who is behind the website, before it frames her for murder.
Need has an interesting premise, but it is based in a couple of unrealistic assumptions:
1) Teenagers are selfish idiots who are willing to do anything to get what they want, regardless of the consequences.  In order for Need to work, the students have to be willing to complete tasks.  That they would do this is somewhat believable when the payoff outweighs the cost.  However, once they are able to see that these seemingly inconsequential tasks are actually leading to the death of other people, it is just not realistic to expect that they would continue.  IF this plotline had lasted a little longer, with the kids completing assignments that didn't REALLY hurt anyone and got them what they wanted, it would have been a much more enjoyable plot
2) Adults and people in positions of authority never believe students.  Kaylee's mother gives her NO credit and believes she is making up everything.  I get it, she has a history, but you can't tell me that none of the other kids tell their parents and none of those parents believe them either.  Also, a website leaves footprints, even when it is taken down for a short time.  There would be a way to trace it back.  Finally, there is no way that police would not investigate claims of a website setting up murders, especially when MULTIPLE people have died and MULTIPLE kids are telling them the website exists. 
Need just wasn't realistic in its treatment of teenagers.  One thing that bothered me to no end is that the kids seem to have no idea how to take screenshots.  I would expect every kid over the age of 10 knows how to take screenshots.
There was also a problem of too many narrators.  We changed POV constantly and most of the characters just didn't have unique enough voices for this approach.  I found myself constantly trying to figure out which character I was following - is this the one who wants the concert tickets, or the one with the over-protective parents, and was that the same love interest the last guy was talking about or is that someone completely different? - it was exhausting.  While the plot was suspenseful, the multiple narrators kept removing me from the plot and the ending was just silly.    


Kate @ Ex Libris said...

Yeah, I 'm hearing similar sentiments from others who have read the book.

Kate @ Ex Libris

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