Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Every year it takes the teachers until winter break
To learn my name. That's why I call myself Stranger.
I am a stranger. To everyone.
Because no one knows me.
Or notices me. Just wait.
They will notice me soon.
The day the bomb threat put the school on lockdown, Gabi was trapped in the girls' room. It seems everything she'd been working for--the AP classes, the college applications--was about to go up in smoke.
The police found the bomb in time, but they didn't find the bomber. Out of two thousand students at Central, the one who's ready to explode is still at large.
The bomber could be anyone--one of Gabi's friends or the guy she rejected or the person leaving ominous notes all over the school. It could even be one of the anonymous callers who calls the school helpline where Gabi volunteers.
And the more messages Gabi gets, the more she suspects she's part of Stranger's plan. Could she be the only one who can stop another attack? Or will she be the first victim of Stranger's revenge?

MY TAKE:
I love mysteries and thrillers and this sounded like my cup of tea.

In Are You Still There, after a bomb threat at her school, Gabi is roped into joining a helpline at her school. She settles into the routine and becomes friends with the other students who are part of the group. However, they soon get disturbing calls and texts, and someone is sending playing cards with threatening messages to Gabi. What is the bomber planning next and why does it involve Gabi?

At first, I was kind of on the fence about the book. The first part of the book sort of set the stage for the helpline and the whole mystery of who the bomber was. It was only when the bomber started getting bolder that I was really hooked.

I love trying to figure out mysteries before the main character does, and while I did get a spidey-sense -tingle when the bomber appeared before the big reveal, I quickly dismissed the bomber anyway. It was perfect with the narrative, of course, because that is exactly what the bomber keeps mentioning. They can be somewhere and talk to people and yet still be invisible to everyone else.

I loved how the book was able to tackle bullying from the viewpoint of people who are watching the bullying go down, instead of from the point-of-view of the bullied or the bully. It makes you think of the times wherein you could have stepped in and made a difference, and yet you just watched. The Stranger's Manifesto helps you get into the mindset of the bomber. It's twisted, as what you might expect, and doesn't always make sense to someone who isn't in a dark place mentally, but there was at least a couple of lines that disturbed me because it's something that I've seen in the news before, and seems entirely plausible in this situation.

As for Gabi, I thought she was okay. I can imagine her not being out of place in my circle of friends. Her romance with Miguel was also interesting, and made me think of the movie crazy/beautiful. It's really intense, but it seems consistent with how teenage relationships are.

Thanks to NetGalley and AW Teen for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are resources at the end of the book for those who are bullied.
  2. It's able to show how people can get wrapped up in their own drama and easily forget or not step in when others are being bullied.
  3. It's a pretty good thriller.

THE BAD:

  1. I feel like I would have cared about the bomber more had the Stranger's Manifesto contained more information or revelations.  

READ IT IF:

  1. You've seen someone get bullied and you did nothing to stop it.
  2. You like thrillers.
  3. You like mysteries. 

RATING:
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