After much industry hoopla over HarperTeen's ambitious web/book series, The Amanda Project, the site built around the books has gone live. On the site—the first thing unveiled by Lisa Holton's new company, Fourth Story Media—kids can find out who the character of Amanda is (a high school girl who has gone missing) and register to join the conversation about where Amanda might be.
Access to the site (which Fourth Story is monitoring entirely) was closed until Tuesday—200 kids served as beta testers for the past few months—and information was sent out about the project on Sunday via Twitter and Facebook; Seventeen.com also ran a blog item about the URL.
As the site explains, each book is written from the perspective of one of Amanda's classmates, three of whom are actively looking for her. Stella Lennon, the byline on each book, is a pseudonym for the actual authors; there are three and each is writing from the vantage point of a specific character. The first book—invisible i,coming out on September 22—is Callie Leary's account and is written by Melissa Kantor. The next two books are told from the perspective of Amanda's friends Hal and Nia, and written by Peter Silsbee and Laurie Faria Stolarz, respectively.
Users who register for the site—a username, birth date and login are required—can enter and access a "clues" section, among others, to find out information about Amanda's possible whereabouts and, in response, post their own theories. Users can also purchase clothing and other Amanda-related items—such as an iMix (playlist loaded onto iTunes)—in an online store. (Harper and Fourth Story had said the site would be configured to bring in revenue independently of the books, when PW spoke to the companies for its initial story about The Amanda Project, back in February.)
Holton said the beta testers have been responding to the site well and getting involved in the story. Kids have the option of joining as a friend of Amanda's or someone else in her world, such as a teacher at her school. "We find that once users have responded to one story, they are hooked and immediately go back to read and respond to past stories as well as other parts of the site. They not only 'get it,' they love it and want more."