Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: #scandal by Sarah Ockler

Title:  #scandal
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 17th 2014
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.
By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.
There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I hate having to write this review. I'm a huge fan of Sarah Ockler's previous books, so I had high expectations for #scandal. Sadly, though, #scandal did not live up to my expectations: I was disappointed with almost everything about it. I really hate having to write a negative review for an author I love so much, but #scandal just didn't work for me.

I think the problem is that there is just too much going on in #scandal. All the individual aspects of #scandal had a lot of potential, but there's just so many different storylinse and so many secondary characters that none of them turn out fully developed. It was really hard not to lose track, and at some point, I couldn't get myself to care anymore.

The cyber bullying is supposed to be the main part of the story, but I don't think it's handled appropriately at all. There is too much drama and fluff for such a serious issue: #scandal reminded me more of Gossip Girl than of anything with a serious message. The mystery surrounding the #scandal didn't impress me: Lucy spends most of the novel trying to figure out two mysteries: who uploaded the pictures of her and Cole to Facebook, and who is behind the Miss Demeanor site. The first mystery, I figured out relatively early on, but the second one did manage to surprise me. It wasn't really the outcome of these mysteries that bothered me, though, but rather the fact that Lucy focused on them so much. Rather than figuring out who publicized her kiss with Cole, I wanted to see Lucy address the kiss itself, to see her apologize to Ellie and figure out what to do about the love triangle. It frustrated me how much Lucy focused on what everyone else thought, rather than trying to fix her relationships with the people that she actually cares about.

I usually love Sarah Ockler's characters, but the ones in #scandal just didn't impress me. Lucy, to me, seemed kind of boring: we are told that she is a zombie-slaying badass, but we are never shown anything that would make her stand out, so she stayed a very bland character, for me. Cole's character is ridiculously underdeveloped: the whole story revolves around Lucy's hidden feelings for Cole, but we never get to see what's so special about him. He's actually absent for most of the novel, and just randomly appears every once in a while. Other than a couple of melodramatic declarations of love for each other, we don't get to see Lucy and Clare interact very much. Without really understanding Cole's character or their relationship, I couldn't justify all of this drama surrounding them. Ellie is just as underdeveloped: we are told that she and Lucy are best friends, but don't find out much about her character or their friendship either. Again, this made it hard for me to understand all this drama surrounding Lucy's betrayal.

Absent parents are something I don't even comment on anymore most of the time because they're so common in YA, but in #scandal, it was just ridiculous. They were on vacation the entire time this was going on, and Lucy was home alone with her sister. I actually really liked reading about Lucy's relationship with her sister, but, like everything else, this storyline wasn't fully developed, either. And I just found it very unrealistic that no one know that the celebrity Jayla Heart is Lucy's sister - if she's the pride of the town, how come no one has tried to figure out what family she belongs to? That whole concept just didn't make sense to me.

#scandal had a lot of potential, but with so much going on, basically everything about it fell flat. I'm really disappointed, since like I said, I loved all of Sarah Ockler's previous work. I really hope her next book will be as strong as her previous ones, rather than another melodramatic, underdeveloped mess like #scandal.


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