Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly, published August 2014 by Merit Press.
Read: January 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Thriller
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Thea’s overprotective parents are about to drive her nuts. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her on-line time so much that Thea feels she can’t do any of the things her friends do. When she discovers a new role-playing game on-line, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. Soon, she’s living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness.
In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates cover stories for her parents and then even her friends. Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really “gets” her. Is he frightening or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most.
I have no idea where to begin with this review… The premise of this story is very topical – “Internet predator” is a recognised term now, with fully grown women falling for their charms, let alone 14 year old girls. When I was younger, my friends and I regularly frequented chat-rooms and were often warned about Internet safety. But, this is the age of the Internet – everyone has tried on-line dating, we have multiple email accounts, PayPal accounts, and of course blogs and YouTube… so where do you draw the line? How do we monitor the safety of the Internet? And what happens when it all goes wrong?
OK, I’ll start with the couple of negatives I have, before I go into detail about why I did enjoy this novel. First up, I felt the narration of this novel was, at times, a little young. Obviously, it’s being told from the POV of a 14/15 year old girl, so that’s to be expected, but often YA doesn’t read that young, which is why us adults enjoy it! Because of this, the main character began to frustrate me at certain points in the novel with her stubborn attitude and inability to accept the strange scenario she was in. The only other real issue I had with this novel was the simplicity of the writing style at times, it felt very – “I went to the kitchen, I poured a glass of juice, I walked to the back door and looked out”, does that make sense?
Moving on to the positives, I felt this was a story that needed to be told, and I think it was done quite well, the novel was engaging, well paced, and tackled multiple issues facing teens today. Younger teens and their parents would benefit from reading this, which in the end is a realistic piece of fiction. I was playing the guessing game throughout the novel, and even though one of my guesses ended up being correct, I did fall for the red-herrings too. Towards the end of the book, I will admit my heart did race – the thrills and build-up were reasonably subtle but well delivered and overall I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read. Reading this following the events of last year, I have to say, it made me consider my on-line safety and the measures I can take to try and be more responsible on-line.