Best friends don’t lie.
Best friends don’t ditch you for a guy.
Best friends don’t post your deepest, darkest secrets online.
Bailey’s falling head-over-high-heels for Ryder West, a mysterious gamer she met online. A guy she’s never met in person. Her best friend, Meg, doesn’t trust smooth-talking Ryder. He’s just a picture-less profile.
When Bailey starts blowing Meg off to spend more virtual quality time with her new crush, Meg decides it’s time to prove Ryder’s a phony.
But one stupid little secret posted online turns into a friendship-destroying feud to answer the question:
Who is Ryder West?
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Bailey and Meg have been best friends forever. They share their deepest and even darkest secrets. When Bailey's longtime boyfriend, Simon, douses her in the school cafeteria with red Gatorade Bailey ends the relationship. Thankfully, Meg has her back. Bailey can't understand why Meg continually pushes away the one boy who she is crazy about and he, in turn, feels the same way. Bailey would like nothing more than to see them together. Feeling miserable, Bailey decides to post on her blog about breakups, and then play some video games online. When a gamer named Ryder contacts her, she can't resist. Soon Bailey is plunged in to an online relationship with Ryder and she is losing her heart and head. Despite the red flags and warnings from Meg, Bailey chooses Ryder over her best friend. What ensues is heartache and misery as two best friends are at odds. They are about to learn the hard consequences of sharing too much information online. Can Bailey and Meg salvage their relationship after TMI is shared?
What I Liked:
- This is a hard review for me to write as there were things I liked about the book, while others missed the mark. However, I feel that despite its flaws, the story has some important information on what could happen when you share too much personal information online. This would be a good novel for parents and teenagers to read and discuss together as it presents many of the dangers that teens face now with the rise of social media. If you have a teenager who engages regularly with Facebook, Twitter or any other form of online social interaction, you should check this out. I would also recommend reading this author's book from 2012, Send, a book that deals with online bullying. I thought Send was a better and more powerful read.
- This book brings to light the dangers of teenage girls engaging in online romantic relationships. Granted, this one doesn't delve into the the truly dark and dangerous territory, but still it covers how quickly a young lady who is in a difficult position can easily lose her head and heart to an unknown person online. There are plenty of red flags that alert you to the danger, for instance the online friend posts no actual pictures of himself, he makes excuses to meet in person, he doesn't talk to her on the phone and he fails to provide any real information about himself. Yet, he manages to say the right things and he is supportive and caring, just what a troubled teen needs. Again, if you are the parent of a young teenager, you should read this so you can recognize the warning signs. It doesn't go into disturbing and scary stuff, so rest assured it is a book you can read and discuss with your teenager.
- With the popularity of social media, many teenagers are putting everything out there about themselves online without realizing the dangers and how damaging it can be to share too much. In a moment of anger, a teen can make the horrible mistake of exposing some secrets or saying detrimental and hurtful things that hundreds of people can see in a matter of minutes, and once it is online, even if you try and take it back by deleting the post, it is too late. People don't realize that these days employers, college recruiters, etc. are scouring social media to learn more about possible candidates. If they see material that puts you in a not so positive light such as saying derogatory things, posting profanity or questionable material, unflattering photos, alcohol or drug use or sexually explicit material, you could be severely damage your future. Whether or not you take the time to read this book and talk it over with your teen, it is still so important that you spend some time discussing the dangers of over sharing on the internet. You can never be too careful.
- I did like the mystery and suspense in this one. I was eager to learn who was actually behind the Ryder online profile. It became obvious as time went on that it was someone who knew a lot about Bailey. I did guess who the culprit was before the exposure, but I still enjoyed all the buildup. The mystery is what kept me engaged in the book.
- I appreciated that there are lots of discussion questions at the end to help start a conversation.
And The Not So Much:
- As I said, this is a hard review for me to write because I so enjoyed Send by this author and I was expecting another riveting, revealing and emotional read. This time around, I was disappointed. While this is not a bad book, it leaves much to be desired. There were so many aspects that I struggled with and I feel like the author missed the opportunity to truly expose the dangers of sharing TMI.
- I struggled with both the main characters Meg and Bailey, and in fact, I found that I didn't like either one of them and couldn't connect with them which put in me in a state of disconnect throughout. Meg is uptight, emotionally cut off and she refuses to open her heart. I hated the way she constantly pushed Chase away. I also felt she was overly judgmental and cold. There are reasons for her behavior, but I felt like it wasn't enough to save her character. Bailey is also a struggle as she is not comfortable with her identity and she is always changing to please the boy she is dating. She pushes away her best friend Meg and believes a boy she has never met. She is immature and naive. Bailey comes across as more realistic than Meg, though.
- There was numerous instances in the book when important events and details were glossed over or cut out. I grew frustrated at this because there were several times where I felt like deleting scenes hurt the book. An example of this would be when Meg, at Chase's insistence, goes to rescue Bailey. Meg and Chase have been at odds when he advises to jump in the car with his dad. He tells her they will talk everything over on the phone during the ride. This conversation is not present and there is pretty much nothing revealed as to what the two discussed. Another time this occurs is when Chase in a moment of anger at his parents disappears. There is a bunch of drama surrounding his absence and then he reappears with no explanation as to where he was and what happened. Then there is no resolution or discussion on how he worked things out with his parents. The next thing you know he is away at school. Needless to say, these omissions in the plot were extremely frustrating. I also noticed a couple of inconsistencies in the book. There is a scene where Meg and Bailey are once again working out their differences and Bailey urges Meg to go pour her heart out to Chase after they discuss Meg seeing a therapist. It appeared that Bailey put Meg immediately on the train after their heart to heart. Then when Meg sees Chase, she tells him she has been seeing a therapist. How could that be possible when she just discussed doing it with Bailey?
- My biggest problem with this book was that it felt so repetitive and dramatic. Basically, you have two best friends who have a series of falling outs over disagreements regarding the online boyfriend etc. The two are constantly fighting and just when it appears they have everything settled, they are at odds again. The other hair pulling problem was Meg continually treating Chase poorly and pushing him away because of her inability to open up emotionally. I can't tell you how many times this angle was done, it was the same thing over and over.
- The romance is a mess. I hated that it was constant drama and Meg is horrible to Chase. Then finally when it appears that everything is going to settle out and end on a high note, it just glosses over and skips the warm fuzzy parts. After all that tension and drama I expected a better pay out and what I got was an absolute fizzle.
- Finally, the parents were awful. Talk about absentee, uncaring mothers! Both girls have mothers that are pretty much out of the picture. Bailey's mother I could understand because she was a mess and had all kinds of baggage, but Meg's mother's behavior is inexcusable. Meg's mom has been raising her by herself since Meg's dad died when she was six. She works two to three jobs and goes to school to try and make ends meet. That means she is never there, physically or emotionally. There was one particular scene where Meg has an accident and ends up in the hospital and her mother doesn't even show. Seriously, what mother doesn't drop everything and rush to the hospital in an emergency? Even after the fact, she lets the neighbors care for Meg. Further down the road, there is an emotionally dramatic scene where Meg reveals all the trauma she has been suffering since her dad died. I fully expected the mother to step up and be there for Meg and for them to come together, but guess what, it doesn't happen. There is also a big mess with Bailey's mother and a bunch of tension swirling around Bailey's absentee father. Bailey's mother refuses to discuss what happened with her father and why she doesn't want Bailey to have contact. There is no resolution between Bailey and her mother either.
TMI is a book I really wanted to love because I feel so strongly about over sharing online and the dangers of teenagers entangling in an online relationship. This book has so many flaws that made this read difficult and at times excruciating. I realize I am not the target audience so perhaps a teenager would enjoy this far more than I did. However despite all the issues, I feel this book provides a chance for parents to open a line of discussion on how important it is not to post TMI online. I would recommend this book for this reason, but keep in mind there are some problems.
"Just because they'd met online didn't automatically mean he was a perverted ax murdered, and it didn't mean she was a brainless airhead."
"Someone took the seat beside her, and she sighed. I'm always alone except when I need to be alone."
"She doesn't see herself! For every guy that gives her the time of day, she falls hard and then totally changes herself for him."
"She held on, held tight while he poured a year's, a decade's, a lifetime's worth of love into his kiss, and she cried at the beauty of it, cried that she'd denied them this for so long."
"You try on lifestyles like they're outfits at the mall."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.