A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
NEED raises interesting questions about the dangers and benefits of social media and explores the difference between what teens want and what they actually need.
It's important to know the difference between what one wants and what one actually needs. Not everyone is brave enough to sacrifice her own safety for someone else, but some empathetic individuals are willing to make a full commitment to someone else.
Positive Role Models
Sixteen-year-old Kaylee, the main character of NEED, is impulsive and prone to exaggeration, especially when it comes to the welfare of her younger, desperately ill brother, DJ. Nevertheless, she's brave and resourceful and among the first to take action when it becomes clear to her how dangerous the NEED site is.
Violence & Scariness
The violence in NEED starts slowly but builds as the story barrels to its climax. A teen dies from eating a cookie with peanuts in it. Another teen is drugged and kidnapped. Someone's trapped in a building set on fire. In one scene, characters are wounded and fatally shot.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kaylee and Nate are attracted to each other, but neither knows how to change their "just friends" status. They flirt and share a quick embrace.
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"Damn" and "hell," perhaps a dozen times each. "Ass" and "balls" used once or twice.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NEED is a contemporary thriller by Joelle Charbonneau, author of the Testing series. It features a dangerous form of social media that pits high school students against one another. The level of violence is fairly mild at first but ratchets up toward the end of story. A teen dies from eating peanuts, another is drugged and kidnapped, and a girl is trapped in a building about to be set on fire. A scene features gunplay that results in fatal wounds. The main characters, Kaylee and Nate, are attracted to each other but don't know how to express their feelings beyond some mild flirting and an embrace. Strong language is limited to a dozen or so uses of "damn" and "hell," with one or two of "ass" and "balls."
Is It Any Good?
Finding a new twist on the cyberthriller takes some hard work and imagination, but this tale of social media run amok has some nifty surprises. Author Joelle Charbonneau devises a sure-fire concept for NEED, pitting impulsive Wisconsin teens against one another as they perform various tasks in expectation of getting their wishes granted. The stakes grow high, the suspense mounts, and characters reveal unforeseen aspects of their personalities. The final confrontation between Kaylee and the villain is a bit too talky, but Charbonneau crafts a solid thriller plot, one with a neat kick at the end.
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.