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Top 8: Book 1 Paperback – October 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—MySpace and Facebook have changed the way American teens communicate. Madison MacDonald's Friendverse profile is the first thing she checks in the morning and the last thing she sees at night. That is until her family goes to the Galapagos Islands, where she will have no access to the Internet for two weeks. Upon returning, she checks her profile, only to discover that someone has hacked into her page. This person has posted horrible things about her and, worse, secrets about her friends that she promised never to tell a soul. The ramifications have made her a social pariah. The hacker, pretending to be Madison, even broke up with her boyfriend through Friendverse. The plot quickens as she channels Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes to solve the crime. The author peppers clues throughout and keeps readers guessing all the way to the surprising conclusion. Smartly written and totally accessible, this is a wonderfully fun first novel. The author has her finger on the pulse of teens today and is certain to please many of them.—Julianna M. Helt, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?
So I found Katie Finn’s (aka Morgan Matson’s) most recent offerings a bit wanting, but that didn’t stop me from wanting Top 8 because some days, you just want a social media mystery novel. Or any book with social media as a major plot point. I’ve got to admit, Finn surprised me! The beginning is very rough, but the payoff is worth the initial pain.
I’m a big fan of abandoning books and regularly abandon books that don’t get off to a good start after 50 or even 100 pages and don’t seem likely to improve. Top 8 was nearly a DNF itself because the characters seemed too shallow and insufferable, but my gut told me to stick with it. Thank goodness for that! Madison’s narrow-minded judgmental ways get subverted and challenged by everyone nine ways to Sunday and she comes to realize exactly how terrible of a person shes been. For talking about the theater kids behind their backs, they nearly band together to kick her out of the play she earned the lead role in; the prom committee head she thought of as stuck up and passive-aggressive is simply driven and not that different from Madison herself. Side characters often get the characterization shaft of one or maybe two standout traits, but Finn manages to give everyone a touch of depth.
Though I made fun of Top 8 by calling it Stock Photos: The Novel for just how many profile pics for these teen characters are obvious stock photos, I still had plenty of fun while reading. I can’t judge the quality of the mystery because I got spoiled via accidental look at the last page, but I wasn’t screaming the hacker’s identity at Madison and even second-guessed myself thanks to strong red herrings that turn the aforementioned characters who come off as stereotypes into people.
Don’t touch this if you’re tired of Rich White People Problems, though. You’ll make yourself ill with rage. Madison and her friends Ruth, Lisa (whose insistence of dropping French words all the time complete with accent is constant and constantly annoying), and Schuyler all possess serious privilege and it goes unchecked. Schuyler in particular has a habit of tossing her phone out her car window while she drives because she doesn’t want to be caught texting and driving by cops. Most parents (including mine, who were a little mad my phone broke on accident during a bad fall, though their anger was more at my phone being post-warranty, pre-upgrade) would be pissed, but Schuyler’s okay because her dad has enough money to buy replacement phones in bulk.
No poor people, no QUILTBAG people, no POC people except for two you literally only know are POC due to their profile pics/stock photos because they’re never described in the book, no disabled people,… This book is whiter than the whitest person you know and seemingly unaware of its own glaring privilege.
Will I acquire the next book in this trilogy? Hell yeah! It’s crackish fun you can’t put down no matter how much its privilege angers you once you’ve gotten far enough in. It’s a shame Finn’s novel didn’t see more popularity or being more social media-focused YA novels into being.
Madison, the main character in this, was one I liked a lot and could relate to, because she was funny and filled with a lot of heart, and someone who while made mistakes, fixed them and learned from them as well. Her friendship with Ruth, Lisa, and Shy was one of my favorite parts because it was easy to see how much these girls cared about each other, and when mixed together, they always provided laugh out loud scenes. Also, Nate equals swoon-worthy!
The plot of this was one I really enjoyed, because it was fully developed and always kept me guessing at who it was who broke into Maddie's profile and what their motive was all the way to the end. A good sign, no? Also, I liked the incorporation of technology with the add in of the Top 8 profiles, and how through Maddie's hacked profile it gave you a warning message about technology.
Also, Katie's writing moved swiftly, making this a novel that was easy to fly right through.
In all, Top 8 proves to be a read that's not only fun but makes you think a little, too, about the technology you use in your life.
Along the way of learning this lesson, madison meets a boy who teaches her who she is and what she really wants in a boy. She learns kindness and that it is okay to be different. That words are hurtful even when not said to the person.
a great book for teaching about thinking about how others feel from what we say and the dangers of social sites. A book of friendship, discovery of self and finding your tortoise.
Most recent customer reviews
Rating: 5 Stars
When Madison's Friendverse is hacked, LOTS of damage is done.Read more