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Estelle: #scandal by Sarah Ockler

Scandal by Sarah Ockler#scandal by Sarah Ockler tweet | web )
Publication Date: June 17, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: social media, revenge, senior year, falling in love
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss.

Summary: Senior prom: Lucy’s best friend is sick and asks her to take her place at the dance with her boyfriend, Cole. First issue? Lucy has had a crush on Cole forever. Second issue? Miss Demeanor (a mysterious overseer of debauchery at their high school) is looking for the top #scandal pics of the weekend and somehow she finds them. Pictures from Lucy’s lost phone that tell a very different story as to what happened that night. Everyone turns against Lucy, and she is suddenly hanging out with new people trying to right t

There’s always a risk when it comes to falling head over heels with an author’s book.

How on earth will their next publication top it? Right?

Before I even opened #scandal, my expectations were high because The Book of Broken Hearts is on my ultimate fav books list. Could Ockler do it again? I was hoping so.

Here’s the thing. #scandal has all the elements I like about her books. The romance, the challenging friendships, the integration of family life, even, sisterhood! But all together, this time, the book felt jumbled, disorganized, and was unsure if its own identity even until the very end.

Lucy goes to prom with her best friend’s boyfriend because she is sick. Lucy has been in love with Cole since she first met him but never told him how she felt and he started dating her best friend and that was fine. Until it’s the magic of prom! And he’s close to her and she’s dancing with him, and the tension is building. Right off the bat, I felt it. Jumping off the page, begging of attention. What would happen between Lucy and Cole? Was she imagining how he was looking at her? What was going on between him and Ellie?

I know, for me, the rest of the book fell flat because I was always waiting for another scene between Lucy and Cole. It’s interesting because Lucy’s sister has a big role in the story too and I think this is where I started having trouble with structure. If the book had created more of a parallel between Lucy and her sister at first, if they were the focus, the rest of the story would have worked better for me (especially the ending). But instead, readers got snippets here and there that popped up at the inopportune times as the story seesawed between this romance and the ramifications of social media gone wrong for a graduating high school class.

I love that the internet and social media is being integrated into books more and more. Ockler makes some good points. Social media should be used for good but instead there are so many instances where it isn’t. #scandal has a Gossip Girl-like personality in Miss Demeanor who reports all the gossip on Facebook and even posts pictures, and on the other hand a student-run group called (e)Vil is determined to get their peers off their cell phones and living life in the present. It’s like one extreme to another when everyone just needs to find a comfortable, respectable balance of both.

Readers are supposed to believe that Lucy likes to live behind a screen, shooting zombies with her computer friends, but since we jumped in at prom — where everything changes — I never really believed it. So her hanging out with this new crowd — e(V)il and Franklin, the school newspaper editor — was a big step for her because she never connected with them before. That’s all well in good, but it didn’t feel as momentous as it should have (especially if Lucy was known as this geeky homebody). On the bright side, I really enjoyed all of the scenes with Franklin. He grew to be a great friend to Lucy; he was sweet, honest, and had an accent (!!).

It’s difficult when a story has so much potential and jumps all over the place. I hated that I found myself wishing and hoping just to get to the end. It was such a different experience from reading The Book of Broken Hearts; I didn’t want it to end and I immediately re-read it. I need more than appealing characters and an intriguing premise to love a book. Structure, balance, and flow are just as important. Not all books are going to be winners, I know, but this one in particular made me feel a bit like a Debbie Downer.

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June 16, 2014 - 1:14 am

Alexa S. - I think it’s really interesting and great how the internet is becoming a bigger part of books too! It’s always fun to see an author’s take on it (and my favorite so far was Don’t Call Me Baby). Scandal does sound like it would have been an interesting read, and possible commentary on social media and how it affects the life of Lucy in this situation. But I do feel sad that it felt like the book was just a tangled mess of all these great elements you’ve mentioned!

June 15, 2014 - 5:27 pm

April Books & Wine - I started this on my Kindle but never really got around to finishing it or going beyond like 10%. Maybe I’ll finish it — but I will probably put #Scandal off because reviews seem to really not LOVE it.

Also, I totally get all Debbie Downer when an author I love isn’t writing up to what I expect.

June 14, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Ashley - We’ve already discussed this on twitter, I know, but I still agree. You summed up my feelings and I only read a portion of it before I got bored. *sigh*

June 13, 2014 - 7:19 pm

Alexa - Aw that is too bad that this didn’t work out. I like this author as well and probably would have read this one given enough time. Maybe I will just borrow it from the library to test it out.

Thanks for the great review!

June 13, 2014 - 3:24 pm

Sue - Thank you for the honest review.

June 13, 2014 - 11:25 am

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - Thanks so much for this review, Estelle – this was high on my to-buy list but I’m probably not going to buy now. I really appreciate that you were honest about the scattered structure and flow. I *am* very interested in the social media aspects of the book, so I might borrow it from the library. Great review!

June 12, 2014 - 10:01 pm

elena - hmm kind of curious about this book bc w my major, i bounce between SOCIAL MEDIA IS SO GREAT and GTFO THE INTERNET all the time!!! eek that it’s so jumpy though. i think my reaction would be like yours: waiting for another scene btwn lucy and cole bc i was already waiting reading your review!

June 12, 2014 - 9:46 pm

Ellice Y - Yet another book that we agree on 100% (like you, I wanted to like this one SO BADLY). You found the words to explain your feelings much better than I did… I really struggled with writing my review. #scandal is my first Sarah Ockler book, and I really wish it wasn’t. You once recommended The Book of Broken Hearts to me, and Ginger recommended Fixing Delilah, so I feel pretty certain that I will really like Ockler’s other books. However, #scandal just wasn’t for me. It fell so flat, and like you, I just wanted it to hurry up and end. I had recently read and loved Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, and I think that was one of the main reasons that I disliked #scandal. I felt like the themes weren’t presented well, but I loved the similar themes in LBC, and its creativity immediately hooked me. I couldn’t stop comparing the two books since they both dealt with similar themes in the form of cyberbullying, so #scandal was at a disadvantage from the get-go with me. Sigh. I hope I have a better experience with The Book of Broken Hearts.

Great review, E!

June 12, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - It is really hard when you have such high expectations for a book. It’s often so hard for those expectations to be met. I’m sorry this one was a let down. I haven’t read anything by Ockler, but I’m thinking I should. I won’t start with this one.

June 12, 2014 - 12:36 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - While I still haven’t read The Book of Broken Hearts yet (but I will, and SOON!), I haven’t enjoyed this author’s other works, so I was looking forward to reading #scandal. However, the plot and narration seems so disjointed, and that’s definitely something I see as an issue in a book. It’s sad that there weren’t really more Lucy and Cole moments in the book, since the novel does seem to revolve around what happened between the two during their prom. I like that there’s attention placed on social media, because I can tell you from personal experience that social media is HUGE in high school these days. Yet, I’m not sure if that benefit alone would make me pick up this book.

Lovely review, Estelle! <3 I'll probably be leaving this book on the shelf, or borrowing it from the library if I do see it there.

June 12, 2014 - 9:59 am

Danielle @ Love at a First Page - Well this is a shame! The Book of Broken Hearts is one of my favorite books, and I had high expectations for #scandal. A lot of reviewers have echoed your thoughts – bits of swoon but the book is a bit of a mess. :/
I’ll still give this a try, but won’t expect as much. Great review!

June 12, 2014 - 9:52 am

Meg - Sounds like I should be starting with The Book of Broken Hearts!

June 12, 2014 - 9:30 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I just finished yesterday and I agree. I was SO in love with TBOBH that I was hoping for something similar. I would have been okay with the different tone, I think, if all of those great things like you mentioned and that I wanted — friendships, swoony boys, family relationships, siblings — and things that were done SO well in TBOBH had been more developed. Those just really fell flat for me and the silly and Gossip Girl nature just took over for me. Bummer. Lovely review and very well said as always!!

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