Why, oh why, didn’t Lucy Vaccaro just skip prom and stay home playing “Undead Shred” like she wanted to?
If she had, she never would have kissed Cole, the boy she’s secretly been in love with for four years—and her best friend’s boyfriend. She wouldn’t have lost her cellphone either, and she would have avoided the social media nightmare that erupts when compromising pictures of everybody at that post-prom party are broadcast from her Facebook account—including a photo of that kiss with Cole. Ockler’s take on cyberbullying, social media and friendship is a rambling, agreeably foulmouthed and often funny one, but it feels both overstuffed and underdeveloped. It’s at least in part a mystery, but authorial misdirection produces an unsatisfying and anticlimactic resolution rather than enjoyable red herrings. A subplot involving Lucy’s Lindsay Lohan–like older sister provides opportunities for parallelism and reflection, but it also helps boost the page count. Likewise, pages dedicated to amiable bickering among the sweetly goofy members of an anti–social media activist group that allies with Lucy are amusing but feel ancillary. Lucy herself begins to feel more a tool for the message than a fully developed character, despite her engaging narration.
As platitudes mount in the second half of the book, readers may find themselves wishing Lucy’d played “Undead Shred,” too. (Fiction. 14-18)