The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange
|The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange|
|Reviewer: Mary Waterfall|
|Summary: I'm not usually drawn to stories aimed at teens within a school setting, but the ideas within the blurb intrigued me. Lange didn't disappoint; she pulls no punches in this tale of the sometimes murky reality of online relationships. A fascinating read made believable by Lange's obvious expertise in this area. The ending was nail-biting and frustrating, but on reflection, the newness of online ethics means it could probably not have ended any other way.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: October 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Eli, a talented hacker, is one of those people who manage to fly below the radar. When new friends offer him the chance to enter a prestigious competition he soon realises this golden opportunity has a sting in its tail. How many people can hand on heart say that they have not made mistakes? Most people are fortunate not to have a permanent online reminder, the very presence of which refuses to allow you to adapt, to change, to grow. Eli has a few mistakes skulking online, moments of madness that if discovered would change his life forever.
Two themes form the heart of the story. The first is the confusing morality of how to keep young people safe when they are constantly plugged into a global stage through their phones, danger sometimes just one click away. When Jordan Bishop sets himself on fire in the school cafeteria, it seems internet bullies are to blame. Teachers now have the power to monitor student's online activity but safety comes at a cost. Eli wants to fight back against laws he believes are stifling creativity and fledgling opinions, he wants the right to freedom of speech. The second theme is where the book really shines, when does fighting back against bullies actually become bullying or slip into crime?
Lange writes characters that are easy to identify with. Eli is engaging and even minor players have depth and realism, their natures drawn within succinct scenes that set the tone for their behaviour. Eli's combination of innocence, need to prove himself and basic good heartedness means that you stick with him, even when he flirts with the dark side of justice and slips into acts of revenge. Drawn into an increasingly dark and unhealthy path by boredom and guilt over past hacks, his struggle to disentangle himself contrasts sharply with his need to impress new friends.
The story contains shocking imagery and subject matter. Some may argue that the content is too adult at times but anyone who works with young people will recognise these themes are something they deal with all the time. The horrific circumstance of the suicide on the opening pages may not be an everyday occurrence, but many young people will experience or know someone who has experienced the hard-hitting themes of the book. Bullying, abuse, sexting and the absolute power of social media for good and bad are part of everyday life. A gripping story and one that terrifyingly highlights our inability to manage an ever-changing online landscape. This book would also be a useful read for any parents wanting to understand how young people view their virtual world, but don't expect a sanitised report, this is gritty and messy.
Other reading in a similar honest tale of young people could be Apples by Richard Milward
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chaos of Now by Erin Lange at Amazon.com.
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