“NEED” by Joelle Charbonneau | Spoiler-Free Review!

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Hello blog readers! Today I’m excitedly reviewing “NEED” by Joelle Charbonneau! An ARC was kindly sent to me by HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review, so here I am! NEED is a new teen thriller set to be released this November, and has apparently been optioned for film, which I find really exciting as the entire time, I was picturing this book on television! The book follows the story of the teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School, at which a mysterious social networking site is becoming increasingly popular. The site, “NEED”, promises to grant their every need and requirement; type in what you need, do what they ask  to have your request approved, and poof, you have a brand new iPhone or your own private gym. The website originally asks for simple actions in return, asking the user to invite their friends to the website, but as it quickly gains popularity in the high school, new members are no longer a priority. NEED begins to show its darker side, instead making often violent and aggressive crimes a requirement. It constantly asks the question: “what do you need?”  In this eerie and mysterious Young Adult thriller, we see just how far the teens at Nottawa High School will go for what they need, and are forced to constantly reevaluate where the line between need and want blurs.

Personally, I loved this book, and gave it a 4.5 star rating. It provided a very original and frightening concept of social media. In society we are constantly told that social networking can be very dangerous and that we should be careful when approaching these websites. The book took this fear that we are aware of and combined it with a great fantasy tale – a website that can give you anything you ask for – to create a chilling story highlighting the treacherous and scary side of the Internet. Throughout the entire book, people’s boundaries are being pushed to the  point of instances such as murder and betrayal, and it kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat the entire time. I ended up finishing this book within a couple of hours; I was that captivated and invested in the story.

The book examines how that often on social media, the things we do don’t feel “real”, and can therefore lead to extensive amounts of rudeness and hate, and overall things that people may not say face-to-face, but won’t lose a night of sleep by saying so over the Internet. NEED brings a three dimensional aspect to this belief, as though the teens believe that the acts that they are completing to fulfil their requirements “aren’t real”, they result in very real prizes as well as very real consequences. The characters are forced to evaluate what is real and what is not, and I was never quite sure what they were capable of. This book has a very mysterious quality to it, as we as readers are kept in the dark the majority of the time with the overall arc of the story, adding to the creepy and thrilling atmosphere.

While overall, I was not very impressed or attached to the characters, I felt that it was not essential to the story. The book was so fast-paced that it left next to no room for character development or believable relationships, and whereas this would irritate me in other books, it didn’t faze me this time around. Personally, I think the story was better-off without the major focus on the characters, and instead focused on the cinema-like quality of the story.

To conclude, this was an incredibly engaging and fast-paced story with an original and captivating premise. I highly recommend this book, and you should definitely pick up your own copy this November, as I believe that once it releases, it will do very well in the Young Adult genre!

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