*Khanh strums her guitar, begins to sing (off-key)*
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy,
But you might have drugged me
And hacked into my foster care records
And almost killed me by riding recklessly on a motorbike
*Khanh falters midnote*
...But I still love you, baby?
Wow, that sounded even worse when I verbalized it.
This book is a modern-day retelling of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. I don't know about you, but by the Dickens, I find Dickens to be boring as fuck, so I'm just going to take the book at its face value and I'm not even going to bother analyzing its accuracy relevant to the original story. Because really, the last thing I want to do now that I'm out of school, is revisit Dickens. Some people enjoy Dickens' writing. I stick to my once-yearly (TV) viewing of A Christmas Carol, and screw the rest. I appreciate his contribution to literature (and he's given us quite a few quotable sentences), but personally, Dickens just puts me to sleep.
Back to THIS book: just on its own merit, the book didn't work for me. The protagonist (Olivia, "Liv") is wishy washy, difficult to like, and as a friend so succinctly put it "You sure are naive for a foster kid.” Yep, here we go again, another supposedly street-smart foster kid who's a dumb as a rock. Speaking of parents, NONE! I've often laughed about the high mortality rates of parents in YA fiction since often, a parent (or both, and the sister, brother, dog, and hamster) dies. Well, dun dun DUN. You guys are in for a treat. We have not just one orphan in this book, but three. THREE! It's not a stretch of the imagination, I suppose, I mean, this is a retelling of Dickens that we're talking about here. Orphans everywhere, and not a single fucking brain in between the fucking lot of them all.
As for the premise, it's weak and completely stretches the boundaries of credibility. I know that this is a work of fiction, I am willing to give all fiction a reasonable amount of wiggle room, but for a story to be believable, it must have some basis of credibility, and this book completely stretches my reasonable accomodaties for a feasible plot. My eyebrows were permanently stuck with one raised well above the others during the act of reading this book.
Summary: Olivia is an orphan, 16 years old. She has been bounced around the foster care system since she was a child. Even so, she's a brilliant student, and a supposedly good "hacker." She has been placed with a new foster home, in which the foster father is oddly cheerful, and the foster mother is a strict, unrelenting alcoholic bitch. At her new school, she befriends some new kids, who sees her 1337 hacking skills during computer science class (Sam and "Z"), and wants her to join them. The hacking team is headed by a sinister man named Bill, and they're pulled into some sort of plot. Blah blah blah.
The point is that Liv and Z fall in love. Whatever.
The Plot: Just ludicrous, really. It's a stretch of the imagination to call Liv a "hacker." Her hacking ability, for the majority of the book, is limited to looking at her teacher's hand as she types in order to get her user name and password for the school's administration system so that Liv can change her name in the system from "Olive" to "Olivia. " She also told us she's previously "hacked" into an old friend's Facebook account to fuck with her user information, make her private messages public. Her hacking attempts are more of the data mining attempts than real hacking. For example, she hacks into a the bank account of "Sam Calderon" by pretty much Googling his information and answering his secret questions. Fucking seriously? There's just no way. I do online banking myself. I know it's more complicated than that to reset a fucking password. The "hacking" Liv does within this book is fucking laughable because there's no evidence of anything fucking remotely technical about it. It's a neophyte's idea of hacking.
And then we have the ragtag band of orphans. A HOUSE FULL OF ORPHANS. It's like a halfway house for kids, run by a sinister man named Bill---of whom I'm not even remotely scared because he never ever ever ever makes a fucking presence in the book. A shadowy whisper of a name is not going to fucking scare me, and I don't really understand the extent to which he has his teenaged hacking crew terrified. The idea and the presence of Bill is so lacking, that he makes for a completely boring villain.
As for the ragtag crew of hackers---they see themselves as Robin Hoods. They're not. They do not steal from the rich to give to the poor. They steal from the rich (big corporations) to give to themselves. Sam drives a Camaro. Z drives a Ducati. 17 years old with Ducati. That's TOTALLY UNDER THE RADAR. These kids are dumb as fuck. They don't know what riding low is unless it has something to do with Flo Rida (bad pun, I'm so sorry, but you guys should be used to it by now ^_^).
These people believe that the big corporations are Big Bad Wolves, and therefore it's ok to steal from them because it's not like they're taking food away from the mouths of hungry old ladies. Fuck you. I'm not a fan of big corporations either, but these companies are employers. They employ hundreds of thousands of people. And guess who's going to be hurt by theft. You fucking seriously think the Big bad executives are going to dock their own multimillion dollar salaries to compensate for the theft? No, they're going to fire some entry-level janitors who need their job to feed their starving family. Fuck you, you fucking dumb as shit Robin Hood Wannabes.
They all live in a gigantic fucking stone mansion. Seriously, there are like no fucking police presence in this novel because they all think the police are fucking morons.
Listen, I'm as distrustful of authorities as the next person, but they get stuff done. These people have no trust in the police. Like when something bad happens to Liv, and she has the evidence ON DVD. Let me repeat. Liv has the evidence on a DVD. Neither she nor her friends contact the police because they do not believe the police can do anything about it.
Fucking dumb kids.
The Characters: Liv is weak as hell. She is a dumbass and naive, despite being a supposed tough foster kid. She is so easy to manipulate. She is talked into shoplifting by a Robin-Hood Wannabe because she doesn't want to lose her newfound friendship.
If I don’t do this, I risk alienating the only friend I’ve made since moving here.
“It’s not like I’m asking you to break open the cash register. When you make better money, maybe you can come back and buy something for real.
Morals. TOTALLY OPEN TO DEBATE.
Here's where I don't get Liv. She never goes for help when she needs it. She gets into a lot of dangerous situations, and she just completely chooses not to contact the authorities. At the beginning of the book, someone drugged her drink. She nearly got date-raped. She refuses to go to the police.
He gave me the soda and I drank it all; he must’ve slipped something in it. Maybe I should call the police, but I don’t know what they’ll ask. It’s probably too late for that, anyway.
And that's not to mention the despicable DVD event. Someone secretly installs a surveilance camera and tapes Liv. She sees the DVD. She runs into her lovers' arms...who then proceeds to....
The Romance:...do absolutely fucking NOTHING. Fuck you, Z. He claims to love Liv. It's a fucking twisted (no pun intended) kind of love. Liv tells him about the DVD, he doesn't go to the police because the police might bust open their entire hacking organizations. Money before love, right?
Anyone who cared about her would call the police. But it would alert them to Monroe Street.
I've said it in the very beginning. The romance is fucking unbelievable.
Liv suspects Z of slipping her the date rape drug. And she trusts him anyway.
Liv knows Z is a player who runs around using and discarding girls. She trusts him anyway.
Liv almost got killed when Z takes her for a spin on his Ducati, driving dangerously fast and evading the police. She trusts him anyway.
Liv knows Z hacked into her school record and changed her grade from an A to a C. She trusts him anyway.
Liv knows Z hacked into her foster care records, knows of her sexual abusive foster parents. She trusts him anyway.
Liv doesn't even know Z's real name because he doesn't even fucking trust her enough to reveal that. She trusts him anyway.
There's a reason I don't read New Adult. There's a reason I avoid it, it's because of fucking asshole alpha males like Z and the dumb bitches who love them. I should never have read this book.