Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: Unfriended by Rachel Vail

By 8:00 AM , , , ,

    by: Rachel Vail

Publication Date: re-released in PB Sept. 1, 2015
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Physical copy received via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 288 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3/5 stars

In middle school, nothing is more important than friendship.

When Truly is invited to sit at the Popular Table with the group she has dreamed of joining, she can hardly believe her luck. Everyone seems so nice, so kind to one another. But all is not as it seems with her new friends, and soon she's caught in a maelstrom of lies, misunderstandings, accusations and counter-accusations, all happening very publicly in the relentless, hyperconnected social media world from which there is no escape.

Six eighth-graders, four girls and two boys, struggle to understand and process their fractured glimples into one another's lives as they find new ways to disconnect, but also to connect, in Rachel Vail's richest and most searching book.

Going into this one, I knew it would be a bit of a younger read than I am used to, but as an educator, I wanted to read this one to see if it would be a good fit for my school's library. Social media is such a huge thing these days and the kids are obsessed with it. It pains them to go a whole class period without having access to their phone. They are always connected to one another, so this book appealed to me as bullying over social media has become a huge problem in society.
I was a little nervous at the onset of the book, as I felt the writing was a bit choppy and juvenile. Thankfully, that didn't end up becoming an issue, as it seemed to even out and some of the sentences weren't cut as short.
I felt Vail did a good job of portraying the usage of social media amongst these 8th graders as well as developing a coming of age story that many teens can relate to: fitting in. At this point in many teens' lives, they are still discovering themselves- what they like, who they are, what they need and want from life. Their friend circles are constantly changing and evolving and it's just a superficial time in school.
Our main character Truly is a sweet girl who just wants to fit in. She is thrilled that her former best friend Natasha has taken an interest in her again and has invited her to sit at the Popular Table. Truly is so desperate for that acceptance, she doesn't realize that she is hurting her current best friend by leaving her behind in the dust. She tries to justify it by saying if the tables were turned she would be happy for Hazel, so Hazel should be happy for her. Hazel is deeply hurt by Truly's actions and that hurt turns to anger and vengeance. She wants to show Truly just how vapid Natasha is and ends up causing a chain reaction all based on what was posted via social media.
I could not stand Natasha. She is a mean girl through and through and only talks to Truly again because she is trying to make sure everyone knows that she broke up with Clay and not the other way around. She is constantly judging her and hates putting up with her, but puts on that nice girl façade and gives Truly the impression she wants to be friends again. The other characters were okay for me- Brooke, is the most popular of the group, but she's actually a nice person. She seems to get along with everyone and is secretly crushing on Clay, her best friend for years. Clay was also an okay character. His issues with Natasha aren't important compared to the ones he faces at home and trying to live up to his brother. It can't be easy living in his shadow and we get to see that firsthand with Clay. Jack, Clay's good friend, is sweet on Truly and I thought he was adorable. For being a jock, he has all this nervous energy with her, and it was cute. I wish their storyline had been fleshed out a bit more, but Truly has quite a bit going on with all the drama surrounding her.
I found myself quite sucked in to the drama of this story. I thought it was a pretty accurate description of the things these teens face on a daily basis and while their issues seem trivial and petty, I remember it being a difficult time in life. I wouldn't say this book is life changing, but it does do a decent job of showing kids that everything they say or post can be discovered and manipulated.

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  1. I don't think this book is for me, but the book sounds like it was realistic and explored kids well. Glad you liked this one overall, Jess.

  2. I forgot about this one but I remember wanting to read it. I do think its important to show the impact social media can have. Its kinda crazy how connected everyone is now and it can just snowball badly. Great review!


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