Book Review: NEED by Joelle Charbonneau

20550148As someone who was a teenager in high school when Facebook and Twitter (and even MySpace) started out, I feel like a bit of a pioneer in terms of social media. My generation was the one that had to figure out how drastically the battlefields of high school are altered when social media enters the picture.

NEED appealed to me because of that, and because it had all the ingredients for a good YA thriller: cyber anonymity, an unknown antagonist, and of course: a small-town high school.

And I was not disappointed.

I DEVOURED this book – something that doesn’t often happen because work and yada-yada-yada, but I could NOT put it down. I fell asleep with it last night and then finished the last 10% during my lunch break today. That’s how into it I was.

My five-star rating for this book is very subjective. I mean: the book has its faults, and let me delve into those before I forget them in light of how much I adored this story.

The one thing that virtually all reviewers complain about are the multiple points of view, and initially it bothered me a lot. Not only are there several different POVs, but while Kaylee (who is arguably the head protagonist) is written in first person, the other POVs are narrated in the third person. Switching like that is a little distracting. Most of these other POVs are very flat characters.

It stopped annoying me so much when I realised (or assumed) that it was done purposefully. I stopped trying to figure out who’s who, and rather focused on Kaylee, and what was happening to the community around her.

Readers will definitely require some suspension of disbelief to enjoy the book entirely. Especially the twist, which is fairly “out there” – I’m avoiding spoilers – and if you really think hard, you will come to the conclusion that it is quite unlikely. But it’s a BOOK. It’s ALLOWED to have unrealistic bits and pieces.

The one thing that really threatened my enjoyment of NEED was that the author becomes quite preachy in some long-winded paragraphs. In some of these paragraphs I feel like Kaylee’s voice disappears and becomes the Charbonneau’s, and it runs the risk of appearing patronising. I hope that that might be a little more finely tuned in the final print.

RIGHT. So that’s the nasty stuff out of the way, and all of that in spite I’m still crazy in-love with this story. Speaking of which: romance barely features here, and that’s so rare! I love it. There is a mention of romantic involvement but it does not become a primary (or even secondary, or tertiary) focus of the plot.

NEED was fast-paced and binding from the get-go. Twice I thought that I had it figured out, and twice I was wrong. I actually love guessing a twist incorrectly.

The story is finely choreographed. It’s clever, and thrilling, and kind of terrifying. I even had a small nightmare about it. And honestly: it’s a whole lot of twisted. If twisted is not your thing, then avoid this one.

I should mention that I’m the kind of reader who enjoyed Gone Girl (the book, not the movie!). Though I’m not exactly equating NEED to Gone Girl, I suspect that readers who liked the one will find that they enjoy the other.

Overall, this is definitely one of my most fun/terrifying reads of the year and I highly recommend it.

I received an eARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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