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Viral Paperback – August 11, 2016
About the Author
Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of Dead Lovely (2007) and nine other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011), The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize, and The Exit (2015). Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She is one of thirteen children and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children.
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Su is a sensible, intelligent and practical girl who lives a stable life with her adopted parents. Su is Korean by birth and was adopted as a tiny newborn baby. She does not think she is anything special or a beautiful person on the outside. Su's sister Leah is a party girl, popular with boys, loves to giggle and gaggle with her girlfriends and is more volatile and impulsive than Su. Pretty much chalk and cheese in personalities and looks.
Su gets talked into (dragged along) on a holiday to Maguluf with Leah and her friends and Leah is determined that Sue is not going to be sitting in reading a book or drinking anything healthy. Nope - Leah and her bouncy girlfriends are determined that they are going to initiate Su into their version of having a good time.
Lots of alcohol later and a moment in time becomes a viral event buzzing around the world on social media and Su's life will never be the same again...
What struck me about this novel is that it could so easily have been a true story. I see all the time the TV documentaries showing young adults partying in popular holiday spots like Magaluf and Ibiza and the general idea seems to be to cram in as much alcohol, dancing and sex as possible, as if a drought of all of the three is going to hit the world tomorrow. Personally it sounds like my idea of hell on earth but thousands of young adults do it every year.
The ripple effect of events on the holiday quickly become more like a tsunami and nobody is untouched by it. After all the entire world seems to know now what Su got up to on holiday. It's a powerful book that really portrays the impact of negativity on social media having the power to destroy lives. Ruin careers. End friendships. Give you a new label forever.
I thought Helen Fitzgerald wrote a really interesting plot, her characters are very real and "pop" off the pages and I often fluctuated between feelings of like/love/hate with many of them, constantly changing viewpoints. This really kept me on my toes as a reader. Once I started reading Viral I could not put it down and my Kindle went wherever I went until the book was finished. I had read a mix of good and bad reviews so was hugely surprised to find it was a really good book, well written with a very powerful message behind it.
Decisions continue to be made throughout the book that alter life directions and there is nothing predictable on the way. I loved the way the author surprised me with how far she stretched the characters into arenas way outside of their comfort zones. Human nature on full display in technicolour. This book really was food for thought for me and I like books that do that.
I followed the story with ease and was eager to see where events landed everybody at the finale of the book. The overall pace of the book is quite steady with moments where the tension peaks and certainly the last third of the book is moving along with a load of interesting twists and turns to keep us entertained. An enjoyable book that tackles a difficult subject matter in a realistic way. I really can't decide on a 4 or 5 star rating for this one, so am giving it a 4.5. I liked this one a lot.
Many thanks to Faber and Faber for my copy of Viral to read and review
Su-Jin is desperate to get the relationship back with her sister and will do anything to fit in with her sister and her friends. She is the total opposite of her adopted sister which makes her life so much more difficult. Her sister is a bully, making snide remarks, excluding her, ignoring her. She goes from a prim and proper studious teetotal teenager to excess drinking in Magaluf, make up and skimpy clothes. How far would you go to fit in?
This book is one you cannot pigeonhole. But one label you can give it is “page turner”. The way the author kept jumping between Su-Jin to her adopted mother kept me reading as their lives dramatically and rapidly fall apart; would there be a reconciliation? Would this family be fractured beyond repair? Viral has a different sort of intrigue and suspense. The writing style was enticing to read and gripped my interest throughout. I’ve got a few of Helen Fitzgerald’s other novels lined up on my kindle so they may have to be tackled in 2018!
Many thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for my copy of Viral.
Many thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I've just finished Helen FitzGerald's latest book and in all honesty, I feel exhausted! This book has one hell of an opening line, that hooks you in on the first page. There is a fair amount of graphic detail and bad language, and so some readers may need to prepare for that.
Viral takes the reader on an amazing roller coaster of a ride; it evoked a whole range of emotions for me and I even cried at one point. I think that this should be a 'must-read' for many young adults and teens as it details so realistically how quickly something can go viral on the web and the dangers of social media.
You realise the impact that a viral video on social media can have on an entire family, not just the person in the video. I loved Su and totally empathised with her. It's really makes you see how one mistake can impact the rest of your life.
I would definitely recommend this book, although it's not going to be for everyone. It's the first book I've read by Helen FitzGerald and I look forward to reading more of her books.