A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some educational and religion topics mentioned: the biblical story of Cain and Abel and Spanish phrases from a textbook. A look at untreated mental illness in a teen. Description of tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance. Some pop music references, including the band EXO, Radiohead, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, John Mayer, David Bowie, and The Police. Story provides insight into the concept of parasocial relationships, which are one-sided relationships (largely resulting from social media connections), where one person is overly invested in someone they barely or don't really know.
Be careful when people insert themselves into your life. It's OK to let others know when someone needs psychological help. You should never have to lie about who you are and what you like to make friends. You can never really know what is going on with other people, and you can't fix their lives for them.
Positive Role Models
Laney and Nico are good kids who are popular for the right reasons: They're nice to people, active in their school community, and love their friends and families. Rafi is mentally unwell and her grandparents are largely inattentive to her. They clearly love her, but don't interact with her much and don't get her the help she needs. Father Phillip cares about the students and gives them good advice.
Some references to Laney and Nico having Filipino heritage. Some of the other characters are described in ways that lead the reader to believe they are people of color (mostly Latino, Black, and Asian). A gay couple is mentioned a few times.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
A few scenes depicting violence, but nothing too graphic is described: stalking, pedestrian hit by car, and grabbing and shoving during a few altercations. A character considers drugging a child in her care.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dating is a major plot point, so expect discussions and descriptions of romance, attraction, making out, and references to having sex. A character watches a video of a couple in bed together with a sexual act implied but not shown.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Infrequent strong language, including, "goddamn," "mofos," "s--t," "Christ," "boob," "god," "f--k," "muthaf---kin'," "dirtya--," "bitches," "a--hole," "ass," "d--k," "damn," "bulls--t," "Jesus," and "bastards."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
A few brands and media mentioned for scene setting, including Axe, Peeps, Gatorade, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Forever 21, Jeep, Volvo, YouTube, Adidas, Coke, Sprite, M&Ms, TicTacs, Gucci, PowerBar, Facebook, Jansport, and Goldfish crackers.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A couple of students smoke pot at school.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Creep, by Lygia Day Peñaflor (All of This Is True), is a psychological thriller about an obsessive teen girl who stalks a popular couple at her school. Rafi idolizes "it" couple Laney and Nico and tries to worm her way into their relationship. The story is told from Rafi's point of view, so the reader gets a sense of how mentally unwell she is and sees her internal rationalization of illegal and morally questionable behaviors, including lying, online stalking, and breaking into cars and houses. Even though the book is a thriller, it never gets too scary or intense. Most of the tension comes from wondering how far Rafi will go and whether she'll hurt anyone in the process. There are a few scenes depicting violence, but nothing too graphic is described: stalking, pedestrian hit by car, and grabbing and shoving during a few altercations. A character considers drugging a child in her care. There's little in the way of drug or alcohol use -- two minor characters hide out to smoke pot at school -- and infrequent strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "damn." Laney's and Nico's romance figures strongly into the plot, so expect making out, references to sex, and a description of a sexy video.The story offers discussion opportunities around healthy personal boundaries and the dangers of parasocial relationships, which are becoming more common with increased social media use. (Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships -- largely resulting from social media connections -- where one person is overly invested in someone they barely or don't really know.)
Is It Any Good?
This unsettling psychological thriller about a teen obsessed with a couple at her school has a great premise but falls flat in the execution. In Creep, author Lygia Day Peñaflor provides a nice twist by narrating the story from Rafi's point of view and showing how her delusional, creepy thinking progresses. The problem is that Rafi's brain is an exhausting place to be. The story starts out strong, showing Rafi's loneliness and sense of abandonment after her parents left her to be raised by her grandparents. We initially believe she merely has a fan-girl type of interested in the beautiful and popular couple Laney and Nico. As her interest moves into unhealthy obsession, the tension around how far Rafi will go ramps up, but eventually she becomes a tiresome narrator.
The book would have benefited from a few chapters from Laney's or Nico's point of view, something to highlight the tension of the unsuspecting objects of her obsession. The ending is out of the blue and generally unsatisfying. Overall, the story explores interesting themes in an intriguing way, but it didn't hold together as well as it could have.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.