What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are some discussions on making out, hooking up, and underage drinking. The majority of the story, however, involves the reprecussions of gossip and Web 2.0.
What's the story?
Madison sets off for spring break safe in the knowledge that she's got great friends, a cute boyfriend, and an active social life. She dreads the time away from her cell phone and computer access will be almost non-existent, but she's almost made peace with not being able to log on to her Friendverse account. When she returns home, she realizes her site has been hacked and all of her secrets are out there for the world to see. The fall-out is epic. Friendships are ruined, relationships busted up, and Madison's world is upside down. Now she's got to find and stop whomever is doing this, get her boyfriend back, and try to make it up to her friends.
Is it any good?
Online bullying has gotten a lot of attention lately and for good reason. Bullies can do a lot of harm without coming near another student in school, which makes this book timely and helpful. It also shows teens the dangers of allowing too much information and faith placed in social networking sites. Author Katie Finn does a great job in highlighting the fast pace and often frantic environment teens have within their online community. Timeless vices like gossiping, jealousy, and frienemy releationships are magnified and information is forwarded at a pace that provides too many kids with opportunities for instant notoriety. The dialog is authentic, sounding very much like conversations one might overhear at the local coffee shop after school, while the cat-and-mouse game Madison plays with whomever is out to destroy her keeps the audience interested.
What doesn't work is Madison's character. While she learns great lessons on honesty and how to put friendship above popularity, she still isn't completely likeable. Though there is character growth, she's still pretty narcassistic and can be mean. Who knows if the author meant for her to have some residual entitlement issues, but it can get annoying. But overall TOP 8 is a great book on what NOT to do in the world of social networking.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the importance of being honest with your friends. How does the saying "Never say anything about a friend that you wouldn't say to their face" apply to Madison's situation? How did Madison gain the respect and trust of her friends back? Families can also talk about social networking Web sites. How do sites like MySpace, Facebook, etc., affect social happenings in school? Have you heard of anyone beling bullied online? What can teens do to model responsible Web use?