It would have been funny, if it just wasn’t.
Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.
Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.
A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.
I really enjoyed this book. I found it on a list by Perpetual Page Turner about nine books to read to fill the Pretty Little Liars shaped hole in your heart. And The Takedown doesn’t disappoint. It’s set in a near future, (which to be honest I don’t think is ever explicitly explained. You just have to pick up on it..) where technology has advanced quite a bit since today’s standards. They have something called Connect Book which is similar to Facebook. And Yurtube which is obviously YouTube. However a few other apps and capabilites are discussed that, praise the Lord, we aren’t capable of today. Like Woofering. This is were anyone in the world can take a photo. And then Connect Book scans the photo and tags everyone in it. Including the background people. It does this through ID recognition. And you can’t untag yourself. Once you’re tagged its up there. You can see where this would lead to a problem. People are caught doing anything and everything. And suddenly these actions are attached to their profile forever. Also everything is accessed through your profile. Money, eating out, buying grocceries, getting a job, all of it is attached to this profile. So if you can’t really just delete your Connect Book unless you want to be a homeless vagabond. All of this social media sets up for a really awesome story about the dangers of social media and how we should take a serious look at our friendships.
The story was very fast paced and I was always waiting for the next big reveal. I got this from Hoopla using my library card and read it in little over twenty four hours. I was addicted to this story and couldn’t put it down. I needed to know who was behind the video and why would they go to such lengths to destroy Kyle. I was never bored while reading this story and would read a similar one in a minute.
Character wise Kyle isn’t super likable. She isn’t awful like Joe or his girl from You. But she definitely isn’t your Mary Sue YA character. Kyle does this thing where she stops her monologue and just talks to the reader. She admits that she thinks she is very attractive. She is upfront about how she egged on her classmate about who would be valedictorian. She tells you she is ashamed of what you’re about to read. She’ll stop in the middle of telling you what happened to say she can’t even finish the story because she knows that she acted like grade A jerk. Being able to recognize her own bad behavior really endeared Kyle towards me. She was taking a step towards being a different person. And by the end of the book truly wants to change. I liked that though she had flaws, she also knew she had them and wasn’t hiding them. It was refreshing for YA.
This book is crammed with diversity. And not in a forced way. It takes place in New York City, in the future. And over 95% of the population is “other.” Its a world made of mixed races and it’s totally treated like normal. There is a comment about the transgender community and Kyla just rolls her eyes and says, “That is so 2015. We are past this being an issue. They are people. And have rights.” It was cool seeing diversity not treated as spectacular, exotic, or the cookie on top of a great book. No, it was just how things were naturally.
There were two things I wasn’t 100% satisfied with. The first being Kyle’s relationship. I get why Kyle was holding back from Mac. I really do. A person’s history can scare their significant other. But she was just so introspective in some places. And yet it took her till the last 20% of the book to figure out why she was holding out. I already knew. But I wanted her to catch up so we wouldn’t have to go through all this back and forth and up and down between Kyle and Mac. It became tedious towards the end which made it less romantic.
Finally the ending left me wanting. Without giving away spoilers I’ll just say that this person is a suspect earlier in the book and Kyle writes them off the list by saying, “I could tell they weren’t lying when they denied making the video.” Like girl do you have a liar – o – meter in your chest? It doesn’t work like that. Some people are just good liars. And also this person was a big and obvious suspect. While I admit when it comes to a story like this, there are only a few villains that make actual sense. And all of them are the usual suspects. But still, I wanted more from the villain. More character development.