Horror addict, fantasy lover, YA apologist. I read way more teen series from the 80's/90's than I should. I really don't need another social network.
I'm not gonna say this story was not predictable, because it was. And I'm not gonna say some moments didn't feel preachy, because they did. I do agree with the main characters' (and, I assume, the author's) opinion on the subject matters they discuss (except about From A Distance being a good song...), and they do bring up very relevant points and arguments, but the side that disagrees with them is represented by characters (at least at first) so ridiculous that it's impossible to give any credit to what they have to say. Have I met some Mark Brittains in my life? Absofreakinglutely. A whole damn bunch. This character was not unrealistic. But these are not allegories, these are discussions in a classroom; it kind of seems like all the author is doing is saying "this is how it is, look at those idiots who disagree with it" and I don't know; at times I disagreed with the "antagonists" even more passionately than the main characters did, and I still thought they deserved a better chance at defense. Did I still cheer internally when some truth bombs were dropped? Well, yep. I guess the whole thing was meant to criticize that type of brainswashing some people like Mark Brittain go through, but I wish it was done in a more clever, less heavy-handed way.
All of that said... I kind of loved this book. And I guess it was all because of the characters. When I finished it, I knew how much I would miss Eric, and Sarah Byrnes, and Ellerby, who should have been in more pages, and Ellerby's dad, who definitely should have been in more pages, and flawless queen Mrs. Lemry, who I wish was my teacher, or in my life at all. She could even be my swim coach, and I hate sports.
So, this book made laugh, and cry, and get really freaking tense, and really mad, and disturbed, and heartbroken, and hopeful. I kind of wish this was a series so I could spend more time with these characters. There's a whole strong message about heroes coming from unlikely places, and indeed, almost every character has their chance to shine, and push their boundaries, and be brave, even the ones you wouldn't expect.
It's also nice how it avoids unrealistic solutions in order to have a happier ending. It's very down to earth, but, at the same time, it's filled with hope. It's simple, but it's pretty quality YA.