by Jillian Blake
To be published on May 16, 2017
Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic. But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public. Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives: sometimes we share too much.My take: This is a book about students at a tony private high school being terrorized by a teenage hacktivist who has infiltrated their phones and is spilling all their darkest secrets. (Hello, Pretty Little Liars!) The book's protagonist, Anna, also suffers from social anxiety. I thought it was interesting that the story was told through that lens -- from the point of view of someone to whom social interaction in general and social media in particular feels fraught with peril. The depiction of social anxiety in the story felt a bit uneven. Yes, Anna was seeing a therapist and taking medication, but at times her anxiety felt more like a convenient plot device meant to up the stakes.
I also felt that at times the book relied on stale stereotypes of high school life. The way Anna describes all the groups in her school feels ripped from Clueless circa 1995: jocks, cheerleaders, drama kids, student council, techies, etc. There's also an inherent pitfall in using texting slang -- or any kind of slang -- which is that even before the book is published, the words feel out of date.
As the story opens, Anna has crossed social lines by dating a basketball player. The two have already broken up, but she's not completely over him. Then she secretly hooks up with a friend of hers, an event that gave the book a slightly triangle-y feel. Yes, she and the new guy have a lot in common, but she also worries that he's a rebound fling.
When the book finally got going, it got much more interesting. As mentioned above, someone starts hacking the students' phones and spilling their darkest secrets. This causes Anna's social anxiety to ratchet up at a time when her romantic life is complicated. She has two best friends and the hacking also puts a huge strain on their relationship.
In the end, this was a fun page-turner -- give it a try if you are a PLL fan!