NEED by Joelle Charbonneau


Age Range: 12 - 16
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A mysterious social network sows discontent.

NEED is the hot new thing. The social network claims to provide the one thing each member truly needs. All a user has to do is provide the site with a request and perform a task. These tasks start off small, like emailing invitations to join the site to five people, but the bigger the need, the bigger the task. Sixteen-year-old Kaylee has one big need: a new kidney for her ailing younger brother. NEED has promised her the kidney, but how far will Kaylee go to get it? And how far will her classmates go to get what they desire above all else? Charbonneau provides readers with Kaylee's first-person perspective and sprinkles in several chapters from those of her peers. The result is a web as intricate as NEED's own networking. Less interesting is Kaylee's single-mindedness. The chapters that don't feature Kaylee are a welcome respite from her obsession with her younger brother's health. This trait is honorable at first, but it won’t take long for readers to decide that Kaylee has nothing else going on. When her friend Nate professes undying love, readers will wonder why. Other characters, such as Gina, the school's mean girl, and Ethan, a budding sociopath, are a delight. The book also squanders nuance regarding NEED's social and psychological implications. These themes are spoken aloud by NEED's creator, a comically villainous character who would be charming if one didn’t suspect her primary purpose is making subtext into text.

A frothy mystery that trips over its desire for social relevance. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-544-41669-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: HMH Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2015


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