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“Need” Versus Want: Charbonneau’s Book Will Have Teens Rethinking Social Media Use

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Imagine a world where all you had to do was type what you need on your social media site and suddenly it appears on your doorstep. Oh, but there’s a catch! In order to have your need fulfilled you have to do something in return.

In the case of Joelle Charbonneau’s “Need,” a new social network site brings terror and havoc to high school students living in  Nottawa, Wisconsin.

Kaylee Durham needs a kidney for her dying brother. The new social network site NEED seems to be a possible solution after she’s tried almost everything. Kaylee placed ads on Craigslist, and she even snuck into her school’s records office to check people’s blood type for a match to her brother, but no luck.

It seems everyone is on this new, hot social network site, and as fellow classmates are getting new phones, money, and other cool expensive items, it only raises questions for Kaylee.

Who or what is behind NEED, and why was it created?

Kaylee is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She is skeptical about how one site just grants your needs. It seems too easy: all you have to do is invite other people to the website and your need is granted.  However, the stakes are raised and Nottawa High students end up getting more than what they bargained for, including mysterious deaths and missing persons.

One of the weird things about NEED is the anonymity behind it. Privacy is important to NEED. Each user stays anonymous and can’t reveal their identity to other users.You ever read the terms and conditions when you sign up for things? Well, let’s just say, NEED’s terms and conditions fit their needs more than the users:

“ALL USERS OF NEED ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS… BY ACCEPTING MEMBERSHIP AND AGREEING TO THESE CONDITIONS. THE NEED USER ABSOLVES THE NEED NETWORK  AND OPERATOR FROM ANY AND ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTIONS TAKEN OUTSIDE OF THE NEED NETWORK. THE ONLY PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS IS YOU.”

NEED’s terms and conditions foreshadow the malicious events that occur. As more terrifying things happen the terms and conditions change giving you a clue to the mastermind behind NEED.

 “Need” shows teens’ relationship with social media and how we disregard the consequences of oversharing.

I appreciated Kaylee as the hero in the story; she made a commitment to help her brother find a kidney, but the entire town thought she was crazy Kaylee — even her own mother. However, she is the most responsible character and is the only one in the story that appears to actually have a logical thought process. She refuses to let the people surrounding her influence or distract her.

All of the characters play a major part in making the story, but most lack character development. Another downside was the constant switching of point of views. With as many as there were, I sometimes had to stop and figure out which person I was just reading about and which story went with them. Charbonneau could have limited the book to two voices and the readers would still be able to infer what the characters in the  town were thinking.

How far everyone goes to get what they want seems unrealistic. Everyone in the story lacks moral value for inessential needs and no one had a conscience. “Need” will cause readers to reevaluate their wants and desires, and ultimately the content they share on social media.

The book definitely asks the question: how far are you willing to go for what you need? Despite some confusion, I really loved that the book had a sense of mystery and kept you on your toes. It may make you think twice about what you post if you own any social media accounts. 

 

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