A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Explores how a social media platform could exploit its users and offers a chance for readers to examine how they use and are influenced by popular social media platforms.
You can work successfully as a team even if you're really different and perhaps weren't even friends before teaming up.
Positive Role Models
Initially, Luna, Mini, Alex, Darrell, and Kilo don't see any way they could work together as a team, much less become friends. But as they get to know one another and share their secrets, they begin to see past their false assumptions about one another and learn to value each person for who they really are.
Luna lives with her mother who's Spanish, and their conversations in the book often move back and forth between English to Spanish. Her father, who died when she was a child, was Mexican. Luna's terrified that if her mother loses her job, she'll lose her work visa and be deported. There's diversity in the cast, in terms of ethnic and sexual identity. Samantha, Alex, Mimi, and Kilo are White, and Darrell is White and gay. Ruby, like Luna, is Latina.
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Violence & Scariness
Cyberbullying causes a girl to attempt suicide. Teens are imprisoned and held against their will. Someone unsuccessfully tampers with the brakes on a teen's car and a boy hits another boy so hard he falls to his knees.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A short scene describes a first time sexual experience ( "He respected me, just as he promised …. In a rhythm that was just ours … The gentle pain. The beauty and the ugly truth. I wanted it all.")
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A few uses of "hell," "crap," and "a--hole."
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Products & Purchases
The book opens with Luna's Playlist of 61 retro songs ( everything from Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and Enrique Iglesias' "Bailamos" to "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC) and each of those songs is the title of a chapter in the book. There's a QR code at the end of Luna's Playlist that lets readers "Listen Along with Luna."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink and get drunk at parties and take it for granted that alcohol will be available at their parties. There's a brief mention of teens vaping.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sofía Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman's Retro is a mystery with provocative storylines about the power of social media. When 17-year-old Luna María Valero Iglesias takes the fall for her friend Samantha's shoplifting, she retaliates by posting a video of a drunk Samantha trashing her friends on Limbo, a popular social media site. Luna is guilt-ridden when Samantha attempts suicide and she reaches out to Limbo, which responds in a most unexpected way with a Retro Challenge: Students at Luna's high school who are willing to give up all technology created after 2000 for the school year can win a full college scholarship. Not surprisingly, Limbo's generosity has a dark side as contestants begin to not just be eliminated, but disappear. A short scene describes a first-time sexual experience ("The gentle pain. The beauty and the ugly truth. I wanted it all."). Teens drink and get drunk at parties and and there are a few uses of "hell," "crap," and "a--hole." Characters are White and Latina and learn to look past their false assumptions about each other to work as a team.
Is It Any Good?
After a brisk and compelling beginning, the story noticeably slows down and only gets moving again as it nears what readers may find is a let down of a conclusion. Readers who are fans of all things Retro (non-smart technology, vintage clothes, and rock classics) should enjoy seeing how the characters successfully navigate a tech-filled world. And all readers can benefit from the important lessons the characters learn by disconnecting.
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.