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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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."
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What's the story?
When Kaylee Dunham's best friend, Nate, receives an invitation to join a new, secret social media network, neither is prepared for the havoc the site will cause their high school classmates. In exchange for having one of their selected "needs" fulfilled, which might range from a new gaming system to a new kidney for a sick relative, participants agree to perform a clandestine task. At first, these tasks seem harmless, but before long, people are getting hurt -- and even killed. Kaylee and Nate work to uncover the secrets of the NEED network, but they soon realize that they're up against a ruthless opponent with vast capabilities.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between wanting something and needing it. How do you define each action?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being connected nearly constantly through social media? Does social media ever encourage antisocial behavior?
Have governments ever conducted secret experiments on their subjects? What are the dangers of such experiments?
- Author: Joelle Charbonneau
- Genre: Technology
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: November 3, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.