Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review for 52 Likes, a new YA book by Medeia Sharif

There seems to be a common theme in YA novels, you can always find one with disturbing content, or maybe it is just the ones I pick up! Not that I mind, most of the time if I am looking to read a teen novel it is because I'm in the mood to read some terrible stuff--not poorly written, just difficult subject matters.
This book is no exception, and therefore might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's violent with paranormal elements.
The story begins with the protagonist Valerie being raped and her attacker trying, unsuccessfully, to kill her. The scene wasn't gratuitous or graphic, yet it was just enough to make the reader uncomfortable but not have them throw the book down in disgust. I give the book 4 stars just because the writing kept me riveted and I finished the book in just a few hours. There were parts where I rolled my eyes, like where the main character is trying to identify with another victim by saying that she too was "pear-shaped". This wouldn't have been a problem but prior to that she makes such a big deal about how large her breasts are and how people think she is slutty because she is so curvy (I think "pear-shaped" as being flat chested). Also the girl is constantly called a "thot" or "thottie" almost once a page. She does say how much that slur bothers her, but do teenagers really call each other that? Maybe I'm just showing my age, but it seems like a really weak insult (it stands for "that ho' over there"), maybe if I were a teenager it wouldn't have struck me as annoying.
The story, however, was incredibly well thought out. I figured out who the bad guy was as soon as he was introduced, but that might have been just a hunch rather than it being transparent. If I hadn't had my hunch I would have been on pins and needles trying to solve the mystery because there are a couple of curve balls thrown in.
There are the ghosts of the victims that work as a "deus ex machina" that if you can hold your suspension of disbelief, doesn't seem that horrible. Only once, when the protagonist gets a sudden notice on her phone and thinks to herself, "what is this? maybe it will be a clue to whoever raped me!" was a bit lame. The ghosts guide her exactly where she needs to go and who she needs to talk to so that in the course of a few days she she solves the crime and 2 other unsolved ones to boot!
I'm trying to point out that this is not "fine literature", there are some plot holes and overly simplified explanations, but it kept me reading which not a lot of books can do.
That being said I thought that the beginning seemed rushed. Maybe this was due to ever editing because it seemed choppy like the beginning originally took more time to get into. Maybe economy of language was what was the goal? Maybe the author was just trying to hurry past the exposition to prove that the violent rape, while integral to the story, wasn't the entire story?
Do I recommend it? Yes, but with warnings: the subject matter is disturbing and the audience is very much for the YA crowd.
I did receive this book from the author so I could read and give my honest opinion. I would definitely pick up other books by this author if I were to come across more.

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