#scandal by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.
By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.
There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...
What I Liked:
Before I start this review, can we all just take a moment to stare at the male model's hair?! Ahh, it looks so silky and soft, I totally want to run my hands through his hair. Tell me I'm not the only one? What - I'm crazy? That's fine, I'll have him and his wonderful hair all to myself. *feels satisfied*
Anyway. What a novel. I definitely walked into this one thinking that I'd get a great romance and a hilarious story, and most likely I'd love it, because I have a good feeling about Sarah Ockler's books. Well. That's not quite what happened. There IS a great romance, a hilarious story, and I did love this book. But this book went deep into the social norms and culture of teenagers and the presence of social media. #scandal is heavy on the repercussions of social media usage - it's quite heartbreaking in this book.
Lucy went with her best friend's boyfriend to the prom - her best friend said she was sick, but didn't want Cole NOT to go. Lucy has been in love with Cole for four years - little does she know that he has been in love with her the whole time as well. They kiss at prom, they fall asleep, and the next morning, pictures of them - and everyone at prom - are posted all over Lucy's Facebook page. Someone took her phone, created an album for prom pictures, and posted pictures of Lucy and Cole, and so many other teenagers messing around the night of prom.
Everyone, including the school's principal, thinks Lucy did it, that she is cyberbullying others. Things escalate quickly; Lucy is slut-shamed (she kissed her best friend's boyfriend), Lucy is harassed and attacked (she allegedly posted all of those embarrassing pictures of everyone else on Facebook), and Lucy is alone (Ellie, Cole's girlfriend, won't speak to either of them, and neither will Lucy's other friends, or anyone else at school). Lucy turns to the anti-social-media group, the valedictorian, and Cole, to find out who took and posted those pictures.
I was angry as I was reading this book. How dare everyone blame Lucy! How dare the principal ignore Lucy's protests of innocence! How dare everyone slut-shame Lucy! It's funny, because Ellie and Cole broke up before prom - that's why Ellie faked being sick, and asked Lucy to step in - she thought Ellie would be a harmless date that wouldn't try anything with Cole. I felt so bad for Lucy, and for Cole, because they definitely got the short end of the stick, out of everyone affected.
Lucy is so one-of-a-kind. She's a hardcore gamer, somewhat goth-ish, a total geek (meant in the nicest of ways). I really like her! She handles everything with controlled panic and some confidence. She's torn up about being blamed for everything and having to apologize for something she didn't do, but I like her character, and how she reined in her outbursts.
The Jayla Heart/Angelica Darling thing is confusing. Apparently, Lucy's sister is a TV star. Her real name is Janey, her star named is Jayla Heart, and her character's name (in the show) is Angelica Darling. Jayla comes home mysteriously, and takes over as Lucy is thrown into the prom scandal. It was weird, but interesting - the inclusion of a TV star/famous sister. Confusing, but interesting.
The story is pretty straightforward - find out who took those pictures and then uploaded them to Lucy's personal Facebook page, via her phone. I had a feeling who did it, and I was right, but I didn't solidify that conclusion until it was revealed, so that was cool. Ockler kept me going, trying to figure out who did it. It's like a whodunit type of story, but no one died.
I like how Ockler inlcudes the underlying theme of the danger of social media. It's important to understand that social media is pretty harmful. These days, you can access everything from your phone, and while that's cool, it's scary. All of your information, already logged in, right there for anyone to control. Clearly, that hurt Lucy (and others) in the end. One malicious act, and lives were ruined.
I also like the other underlying themes that Ockler including - the ones dealing with relationships. Lucy makes friends with people she would never talk to otherwise (the anti-vanity-technology guys, Franklin the valedictorian, etc.). She also develops a better relationship with her sister, who learns her lesson.
And there's the romance. It's not a romance that is in your face, all the time. Cole and Lucy do not have chemistry that flies off the page. Their stolen night is what caused this whole situation, but they fight to be together. Together, with the new friends, they find out who put up the pictures. This romance is less about the physical romance, and more about the mental and emotional side of the relationship. I love how Ockler created and progressed their relationship. The romance was really well-done, in this novel.
Heck, everything was really well-done in this book. I seriously enjoyed it! I spent most of the novel with simmering blood, but not at Lucy - at the unfairness of the situation. But Ockler teaches us several important lessons in this book, and that is excellent.
What I Did Not Like:
I know I just said that I really liked the romance how it is, but maybe a little more between Cole and Lucy? It makes sense, that they would back off, after being "caught", but ahh, I wanted more scenes between them! Yes, mental and emotional bonds are important. But physical bonds are important too. Heh.
I can't really think of anything else! This book was really solid. Good stuff.
Would I Recommend It:
Yes! The non-contemporary-romance-fan likes another contemporary romance novel - what is happening!? That being said, I'm not usually a fan of contemporary romance novels, but I liked this one. The messages behind this book are super important, so there's that. The romance isn't overwhelming or dominant, so there's also that. This one is a good one, I promise!
4 stars. I'm two for two with Ockler's books! And both are contemporary novels, huh. I'll definitely be checking out her future novels!
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