#scandal by Sarah Ockler ( tweet | web )
Publication Date: June 17, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
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.