Rachel Cohn, . . Knopf, $16.99 (305pp) ISBN 978-0-375-85758-4
As in Cohn's books starring Cyd Charisse, a wild child with a complicated past is at the center of this coming-of-age story. It's easy to fall for lively Very: she plans flash mobs using a social network she programmed at college, makes play-lists for every situation (even to apologize to her roommate after hooking up with a mutual friend), and has an intense fantasy life with El Virus, a mysterious stranger she met on the Internet. However, the author's mix of fun, far-out characters sits uncomfortably with somber subject matter, including Very's bad first sexual experience at age 12 and the death of her mother. These shifts in tone make it hard to know how seriously to take the book's central problem, when perpetually plugged-in Very is sent to a computer-addiction recovery center. There she eventually realizes “I prefer the virtual world because the real one is hard, and cruel, and scary.” Her story never feels entirely cohesive, but readers will have fun watching Very in action. Ages 14–up.
Reviewed on: 11/23/2009