by Joelle Charbonneau
To be published on Nov 3, 2015
by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: eARC for review via Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: This was one of those books where I read the first few chapters and was like: "well, I see exactly where this is going." I mean, take a mysterious website that grants people's wishes and add in a character with a brother who needs a kidney to survive and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going to happen.
While I was essentially right in my predictions, the story did go off a lot of other directions. A lot. NEED featured at least eight or nine POV characters, which for me is about six or seven too many. The narration is in third person present, which at least helped me keep everyone's name straight, but I still I had trouble remembering who did what to whom, and after a while, I just stopped trying. All of them had needs they wanted fulfilled, and most of these needs (when compared to the kidney) were only things that a sixteen year old could consider a desperate necessity.
The story did do something a bit interesting (spoiler)
For me as a reader, NEED would have been much stronger if some of those POVs had been eliminated and the plot had been stripped down to a few people who REALLY needed stuff and would do anything to get it. For me, it was also problem that what teenagers think they "need" (a good grade on a test or some concert tickets) seemed important to them, but pretty superficial to me, and certainly not important enough to compel them to do shady stuff for a stranger. Also, I think things fell apart toward the end -- the villain became pretty ridiculous and I thought the book veered way off the rails.
For me, NEED was a book with unfulfilled potential. It was a bit of a mix for me, but if you don't mind a story with a bunch of POVs, you might want to give it a try!