Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
Synopsis: 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.
“Congratulations, you have been invited to NEED–the newest, invitation-only social media site for Nottawa High School students. Join your friends in discovering how much better life can be when you are presented with an anonymous way to express your thoughts and are given the tools to get the things you Need.”
Despite an interesting premise, NEED is one of those YA books that will probably appeal to young teens, but will frustrate anyone older than fourteen or fifteen due to enormous plot holes and unbelievabl, unlikable characters.
The idea behind it is intriguing and creepy at the same time. A social network site that will give you anything you want: concert tickets, computers, a new kidney for your ailing brother. Of course there’s a catch. In order to have your “Need” fulfilled, you have to pay the price, and do whatever NEED asks you. It seems pretty innocent at first. Leave a box of cookies on a fellow classmate’s doorstep, slip a slightly risque note under a neighbor’s door. But then, people start dying, which leads to the true mystery: who is behind NEED, and what is their endgame?
The story is told in the 3rd person from multiple POVs, which makes it difficult to to really get to know any of the characters, let alone emphasize with them. The one character who stands out is Kaylee, who’s POV is the only one told in the first person. She’s also the only person who doesn’t come across as being a self-absorbed teen obsessed with material things. She’s the sole participant whose request is for someone other than herself, and her concern and caring for her younger brother DJ who desperately needs a kidney, is touching.
The adults in this story are all basically clueless and especially aggravating is Kaylee’s mother. She blames and mistrusts Kaylee because of some poor choices made by her, yet Kaylee wouldn’t have made these decisions if her mother wasn’t keeping secrets. The law enforcement figures are laughable, and basically stumble around, never asking the right questions.
The villain is obvious almost from the beginning, and the only question is why, and for whom are they working for. Quite honestly, by the time the big reveal comes with the typical posturing and grandstanding, I had long since ceased to care.
I will say, the plot is fast-paced, and I wound up reading it in one sitting. I do think it will appeal to that small demographic of young teens, but otherwise, I’m sorry to say, I can’t recommend this.