I hadn’t originally intended to read this book (or this series), and I’m writing one review for the whole series. You’ll see why.
What happened was I read an article on banned books, and this was mentioned. I went to Amazon to read a synopsis, and somehow my finger hit the “Buy With One-Click” or whatever button, and there it was, on my Kindle.
The Internet Girls series follows the lives of three Atlanta girls who are BFF’s: wild-child Maddie, relatively normal Angela, and the quiet, bookish Zoe.
The books are written all in text message form, which–as a Lit major–should have taken me awhile to get used to. Here’s the odd part: I got it immediately. I’m sitting here, writing this review, and I have text open on my phone, chats on Facebook going, and I check Twitter every few minutes.
I don’t know that this series’ intention was to point out the Facebookisation of the world, but it spotlighted it brilliantly. The girls text, check Facebook pages of friends and enemies alike, get into Twitter to spy on a former nemesis–it’s a slice of 2014 life.
Ms. Myracle does an admirable job of showing how this technology has inculcated itself into our lives, especially those young enough never to have lived without a smartphone.
I won’t go into each of the stories individually, for they basically form one seamless tale, despite covering different blocks of time.
TTYL is tenth grade; TTFN is junior year; L8TR G8TR is senior year, and the latest release–YOLO–is the “Winsome Threesome’s” first year at college, and the first time they’re all scattered about the country.
I liked the characters–enigmatic good-girl Zoe, especially–and the three truly have some adventures. The books are all good (though I thought TTFN was the least of the three, but still worth reading), and I can see why they were banned.
They were banned for being honest about how teenagers behave. No, there weren’t sexual references on every page, nor was each book a 225 page orgy. But teenagers explore. They talk about sex. They HAVE sex. This sex thing–GASP–has been going on for years. Maybe decades or centuries. Who knows? I would suspect that as long as our species has reproduced the way we do, people have talked about it.
These four books just take it to a new level by making it CASUAL. It’s not a big deal. When one character asks another about a…um, BJ, the question is answered, then they plan to go get Starbuck’s. When a character decides she’s ready to have sex with her boyfriend (Yikes!), she sagely goes to Planned Parenthood, gets on The Pill, and waits till she’s “safe.” Yes, she has sex after that, but she did so with somebody she deeply loved, and she did so responsibly.
There are other conversations that might ruffle a feather here or there, but nothing overtly awful. I don’t think I’d want my Tween reading these books, but for the books’ target audience–probably ninth or tenth grade and up–I can’t see any real problem.
I find it highly unlikely that any girl would read these books, then run out of her convent school to become a wanton hussy.
As far as the characters, I liked the three unique personae that make up “The Winsome Threesome” (their name for themselves). They deal with high school problems–bullying, sex, homework, wanting to get their driver’s licenses–as I imagine teens today do: texting, Facebook messaging, etc.
One thing I found disconcerting–but interesting–is that there is no narrative point of view. In most books, you have third-person, where we can see what everyone is doing. In others, we find first-person omniscient, where we see the story through one character’s eyes, experiences, and thoughts. (We’ll skip second-person). There isn’t really a narrative slant here: we’re just reading communications between people. There’s no sense of setting. I’ve just read all four books, and I couldn’t tell you what any of the schools, houses, streets, etc, look like. That’s assumed by the three girls, because they live there.
In other words, we’re not invited into their world, just into their communications. Some writers describe every lid on every trashcan on every driveway on every street. Here, there’s none of that, except when it’s communicated via text (what kind of clothing one or another should wear, e.g.).
“Internet Girls” is an interesting experiment, and I was drawn into it, even though I’m not usually a YA reader. If there’s a fault here, some of the texts seem a bit wordy for text messages from a phone (as the character states), though not for an Instant Message on a laptop.
Were I to choose, I think YOLO would be my favorite, followed by L8RG8R, with ttfn as my least (it’s fine, but there’s one plot thread that felt wrong to me). Mainly, though, I <3 the Internet Girl Series
(I’m writing one review for the series, because they’re all so similar in the way they’re told, that I don’t see the need to detail each book individually, except to say this: THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN BANNED!!!)