31 January 2015

Review: Backlash

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really want to dismiss this outright as a ham-fisted after school special of sorts, but even adult novels are filled with blunt force cautionary tales, so it's really not fair to single out this young adult title about cyberbullying.

Based on some true stories regarding cyberbullies convincing teens to kill themselves or act out, this story takes place over multiple points of view, both from the aggressor, the victim, and family members of both. The pacing is quick, and the story ultimately wastes no time and holds little back.

Where does this story fall apart a bit? For one, the characters seem less realistic and more like caricatures. The fact that the mother joins in (even though, unfortunately, that is a direct correlation between the tale and the real-life incident that sparked it) feels forced and out of character. The actual character growth feels less realistic and more forced than anything, and the end results feel a little too pat.

I don't know. I get why this book exists and is getting attention, I just also feel like the actual topic perhaps deserves a better treatment. Especially in the wake of more recent incidents of harassment and cyberbullying and the media's irresponsibility in its treatment, it's difficult to simply accept this narrative simply as is, never mind how relevant it may or may not look in a short amount of time.

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