The Takedown by Corrie Wang

It’s my birthday week, and instead of figuring out what I want, I’ve been reading some really great books that have all but distracted me. Yesterday was If We Were Villains {one of my new favorites}, and today is The Takedown.

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Title: The Takedown {384 pgs}

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Summary:

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

So, I reread that summary and I must have missed the near-future part because I was thrown into a world where tech is the new god and everyone is connected, whether they like it or not.

Kyla – or Kyle, as her friends call her – is practically perfect in every way, and maybe that’s why – she believes – a person uploaded a fake video of her having sex with the hot, young teacher at her school. Suddenly, her entire life falls apart: her best friend doesn’t believe Kyle when she says it’s not her on the video; the boy she’s not hooking up with but wishes she was turns his back on her; her mother’s long held {and long repressed} dislike of her daughter comes flying out. But Kyla refuses to take this sitting down. Instead, she dives into a new world and struggles to find her hater, and she plans on bringing him or her down.

Right up front, there’s only one or two truly likeable characters in this book, and Kyla is not one of them. You feel terrible for her, sure, but you find yourself agreeing with her when she says there are lots of people out there who don’t like her, because you get it. She ditched her long-time best friend Ailey for three new popular ones, and never looked back. She’s kind of a bitch, even though, at points, she deserves to be. But I guess it’s her friendship with Audra that really seals the deal on not liking her. Audra is self-absorbed and rude, and even though she fights with Kyla while crying or hurting, she still fights for some completely insane reasons. She keeps Kyla in the dark about her biggest secret and then blames in on Kyla, saying that she wouldn’t understand, even though Audra didn’t give her a chance.

This is all to say, Corrie Wang wrote teenage girls pretty effectively.

Yes, these girls can be considered shallow and mean, but guess what? Not all girls are sweet and kind, the type that can be found in most YA novels. I’m not saying that those girls are boring, but it’s nice sometimes to read about a girl who is completely aware of how rude and mean she is. Kyla knows that someone put this video out there because they hate her, and she understands. She knows that she’s been pretty terrible to some people, but she always knows that she’s a good person, and that no one deserves this.

The most realistic part of this book was the ending. I’m not going to give everything away, but when Kyla finally meets her hater face to face, the hater is not exactly repentant. By the way, not only did this hater post the video on everything, but this person also messed with Kyla’s college applications and tried to ruin her friendships with everyone around her. Like, no. I was expecting some kind of apology or satisfying slap or something, but Kyla just kind of…walks away. And I get it. This person had issues, and Kyla couldn’t solve them. Kyla got what she wanted, and she also knew the point where she should just walk away.

Still. One little slap couldn’t have hurt.

This was a super fun, pretty quick read that got me thinking about how much I’m on social media. Kyla lives in a world where the internet knows everything about you, and you don’t even have to be friends with someone for them to know who you are. For example, someone could take a picture and I’d be in the background, and the wonderful service that everyone uses would tag me, because it would recognize my face. That’s terrifying. I take social media for granted sometimes, because all I post about are books and my animals, but is that enough? Is that enough for something, sometime, somewhere, to bite me in the butt? Just how private is my life, really? Or any of our lives? God, I hope this book stays firmly in the fiction lane.

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