By: Megan Abbott
Published: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown and Co
Deenie is a normal teenager attending high school. Her brother, Eli, is a star hockey player and their dad is a teacher at the high school. Life for Deenie is idyllic until her best friend, Lise, has a seizure at school. Chaos ensues and rumors of a virus, a reaction to the HPV vaccine, or maybe even a hazard from the nearby lake are to blame. More of Deenie's circle of friends start having seizures and Deenie wonders if the connection between all them and their symptoms is her. Parents in the close-knit school become hysterical and the national news even picks up the story. Deenie, her brother, and her dad are determined to figure out what is really going on in their community. What they find is the real cause of the hysteria will shock all of them, as well as their community.
Abbott truly has her pulse on how teenagers think and act. The story focuses mainly on the teenagers and their conversations and actions. Never once did I question what they said or how they reacted to something. Their feelings, thoughts and reactions were authentic to today's teens. The story is set in current time and gives a glimpse into how technology and social media is at the center of a teen's life and how teens use it to communicate and share every moment of their lives with everyone.
This is a fast read, but a bit choppy at times. Teenagers tend to jump from conversation to conversation and this book tends to do the same thing, which actually makes it more of an authentic and frenzied story. The characters are believable and well-scripted. The cover gives you a glimpse of the first seizure and paints that image in your mind during the scene. The author leaves you guessing and wanting more chapter by chapter. I wasn't completely shocked with the conclusion to the mystery illness, but appreciated the way she put the pieces together.
Even though the book has a YA feel, due to some adult situations, I would recommend it for high school age and up depending on their maturity and life experiences. As the mother of a teenager, it left me feeling uneasy and more urgently aware to stay on top of their social lives.
Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer, Los Angeles Review of Books, Detroit Noir, Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year, Storyglossia, Queens Noir and The Speed Chronicles.
Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University.
She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Macavity, Anthony and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Pushcart Prize.
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Thanks to the publisher for sending me an eBook version to review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review.