Recommended for ages 13+
A social network promises you whatever you need – but nothing comes for free, and the teens at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School discover just how far they are willing to go for concert tickets, gym equipment, or just the thrill of a mission. Kaylee Dunham, social outcast at Nottawa, needs a kidney for her sick brother, but she discovers pretty quickly that the site is causing havoc around her. When things turn deadly, Kaylee starts digging to find out who’s behind NEED, but what happens when you’re up against a social network that can send someone to kill you in exchange for someone’s greatest wish?
NEED is a fast-paced thriller that teens – boys and girls – will enjoy. Everyone’s life seems to revolve around a multitude of social networks, so joining one more – that promises to give you free stuff for just one little task – will click. The tasks start off almost innocuously – more like pranks, really – but as the situations escalate and everything starts falling into place, the book becomes tense and unputdownable. The pervasiveness of social media and a seemingly invisible antagonist who can contact you anywhere, anytime – and can assemble your own classmates against you – is truly unsettling.
NEED is a good addition to collections for fans of tech fiction and a good thriller. It also lends itself to a good discussion on wants versus needs.
Joelle Charbonneau is a New York Times bestselling author of the Testing trilogy. Her author website offers links to social media, information about her books and appearances, and a section dedicated to authors united in support of Ferguson, Missouri’s youth by supporting their library, which stayed open and provided a safe space for the community during the riots. NEED will be available in November 2015, but you can pre-order a signed copy from Ms. Charbonneau’s site.
Possible booktalk: Kaylee signs up for NEED because she wants a kidney for her sick brother. Other classmates sign up for NEED because they want material possessions like concert tickets and gym equipment. What is a want versus a need? If someone offered you the chance to have something you really wanted, but you had to complete an anonymous task, would you blindly do it? Would you question it at all? Is there always a price to pay for something that appears to be free?