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NEED Hardcover – November 3, 2015
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Joelle Charbonneau
The best selling author of the Testing trilogy discusses her newest stand alone book, NEED.
How would you describe your new book, NEED?
NEED is a stand alone thriller that jumps headfirst into a new social media site that allows users to say what they need and offers them a chance to get it – for a price. Because so much of the user behavior and the rules of the site are based on things I’ve actually witnessed on the Internet, I can honestly say I think this story is creepier and more intense than anything else I’ve ever written.
What can fans of the Testing trilogy expect to find in NEED?
Even though this is a contemporary set thriller instead of a science fiction story, I think Testing readers will be happy to find a fast-paced plot, strong characters that you can root for and against, and a dark mystery of the powers hidden behind the network and the reason why it exists. Hopefully, readers will also find the same intensity and connection to the story that they embraced in the Testing trilogy.
NEED is, in part, about the darker side of social networking. What drew you to this subject?
The Internet and specifically social networking is really fascinating. For some reason, a great number of people behave differently online than they do in real life. I see friends of mine say things to people on their social media pages that they would never say in person. That kind of behavior made me wonder – what would people say if they were anonymous online and thought no one knew it was them…and what would they do if they thought they could get things they needed? Once I asked myself those questions, I had no choice but to answer them, which is why I wrote NEED.
The book jumps around to different teens’ stories and points of view. Was this planned?
The initial idea story started with Kaylee. I wanted a character who had been hurt both on and off of social media and had a strong desire to keep her distance from people in person and online. That gave her a strong conflict from the start. But everyone has different reasons for being on social media and unique things that motivate them into taking risks. So, before I wrote the first page, I realized I needed to explore more than just Kaylee’s point of view. I needed a much broader cast of characters. However, it wasn’t until I was writing the story that I learned who those characters would be.
From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—When a new social network pops up promising to fulfill any need, 16-year-old Kaylee Dunham knows it's too good to be true. It's one thing to deliver new phones, computers, or sports equipment, but how can an anonymous site give Kaylee what she needs—a kidney for her little brother? Kaylee joins NEED to please her best and only friend, Nate, but starts to worry when NEED begins asking users to complete tasks in exchange for getting what they want. The tasks seem harmless enough at first, until a student turns up dead, and Kaylee finds out the lengths to which some people will go to get what they think they need. Charbonneau delivers a tightly paced thriller packed with enough tension to keep teens hooked until the dramatic finale. Readers will root for Kaylee as she faces down hateful classmates, a mother who doesn't trust her, and an out-of-control social network bent on turning everyone she knows into a killer. Told through the perspective of multiple students entangled in NEED, this work raises interesting questions about the real-life dangers that could arise from operating anonymously online. Well-defined conflict and plenty of action also make this a good choice for reluctant readers. VERDICT A taut mystery sure to elicit discussion.—Kimberly Ventrella, Southwest Oklahoma City Library
—School Library Journal
“Joelle Charbonneau made test-taking terrifying in her best-selling trilogy, The Testing. Now, she turns her dystopian eye towards social networks and teens’ wishes in Need.”
"A fast-paced read that teens antsy to untangle the mystery will devour...hand to teens looking for a thought-provoking, timely thriller."
"Charbonneau still has a few surprises in store to leave readers questioning their trust in (and anonymity of) the internet and the selves we expose when we think no one is watching."
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Top customer reviews
What do you NEED?
It sounds easy enough. Sign up. Tell it what you need. Invite a few friends. Receive your prize. It’s a gimmick, a marketing ploy. Who doesn’t want free stuff? It’s not asking for much.
Ask for something else you need. Because, hey, why not. Sure you might not really need it, but you want it. You’ve already invited your friends, so that’s out. Deliver a package? No problem. Does it really matter what’s inside?
Need something else? Sure you do. And so what if you’re not thrilled with what you’re supposed to do to get it. Nothing bad can happen. No one will get hurt. And if for some reason they do, they probably deserve it. Right?
Told from multiple points of view, with only the main character Kaylee’s voice in the first person, the requests of each character are revealed along with their level of willingness to do what is asked for their requests to be fulfilled. Each starts off with the promise of receiving something great in exchange for doing very little. But every new request demands more reciprocity until they’re forced to ask the question: is it worth it?
Joelle Charbonneau did a masterful job of intertwining and layering each character’s story. There were no extraneous characters - everyone had a part to play. The plot was complex, but not complicated. The story was at times harsh, violent, upsetting, but not unnecessarily so.
The author created an unlikely hero in Kaylee, a girl so desperate to help her brother that she’d do anything to save him, and surrounded her with a variety of characters who ran the gamut from selfish, to vengeful, to envious, to guilt-ridden, to lovesick, to conniving, to opportunistic, to frantic, to innocent, to murderous. She gave them all a level playing field and let their choices dictate the outcome.
NEED is a story that will make you think, make you question your own limits, make you reevaluate your wants versus needs. It reveals how the desire for something can bring out the worst in people. It shows that everything has a price and that there are always consequences for one’s actions. It’s grim. It’s disheartening. It’s compelling, it’s surprising, it’s startling. And it is certain to prompt discussion both during and after the read.
Unfortunately, there were a few things that make this book only a three star book for me. While the book sounds amazing, the story itself was lacking in many areas and was bland. I was left wanting for more details and more in-depth characters. I didn't connect to a single character, not even the main ones, and that's not a good sign. Another thing that I have noticed more and more in YA fiction is the number of grammatical and spelling errors that are very plain to see. I wonder how you could read this book and not find yourself doing a double take due to some very obvious spelling and sentence issues. It needs another edit...like just a quick one would take care of some of the things that kept this from being a flawless read.
Overall, it wasn't horrible, but it didn't deliver on the brilliant storyline that was promised in the book description. It felt rushed at the end and I had higher hopes for the book than what I read.
One day a simple social networking site, much like Twitter or Facebook, pops online asking that very question. One student asks for something he "needs" and gets it, without thought or question as to why this expensive thing is free. So he tells someone and they tell someone...and you know.
Well, Jack's brother, Nate, overhears and hacks his brother's account and sends himself an invitation to the site. He goes into the site and asks for an A on a future test. To fulfill his "need" he has to invite four friends to the site. He immediately thinks of his best friend, Kaylee.
The [MC] Kaylee, is told by Nate to accept his request. She does, and the site asks, "What do you NEED?" And Kaylee inputs the one thing she's been searching for this past year--a kidney for her brother. It's hers, but all she has to do is invite five people to the site.
But once everyone in Nottawa High School in Wisconsin is invited, what does one do to get their "NEED" fulfilled?
And that's where it all goes berserk!
The things required were outrageous, but then what do you expect to do when you're getting a laptop for free or cell phone...or concert tickets...*Needful Things*...The site preys on the greed teens have in this town in wintry Wisconsin. And because the "need" is so prevalent, they're asked to do some OUTRAGEOUSLY INSANE tasks...*Pretty Little Liars*...before their "NEEDS" are met.
You should know that this switches out of the first person POV of Kaylee Dunham to third person POV of the various students of Nottawa HS. In the recent past, I've complained about that very thing...it was uncomfortable in a RomCom. But with NEED, it was done very well, and it kept the story going. Much more pleasant to read...though I still have the issue of the first to third change. (personal taste is all)
DEFINITELY GIVE THIS ONE A READ!
The events pique one's interests, the twists keep one on their toes...and don't expect to guess what's coming because you might be wrong. I will say a lot of the answers for the BIG FINISH came a little too soon for me, hence the one star deduction. But, I'm sitting at the end of this trying to determine if it's truly the end or what? It seems like there's room for more, though not with Nottawa.