Review: #scandal by Sarah Ockler

#scandal -sarah ocklerLucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…

4 Drink Me Potions

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started #scandal. I have read some of Sarah Ockler’s previous works, and I can see some of her unique writing styles in this one too. Has anyone else ever wondered why she gets the protagonist to narrate what an animal/pet in the story might be thinking in certain situations? Beats me.

Anyway, this story surprised me, though I’m starting to think that’s the trend with Ockler’s books. It may seem like just another romance story, with the big “OOPS, I broke the unspoken rule of never going after a best friend’s ex” kind of theme. Reminded me in areas of The Unwritten Rule. However, she always turns the story into something more than just melodrama. It looked into cyberbullying, a very real threat in this present day and age of social media. The anonymity of the internet provides an outlet for people to say and do things that would deter them if they had to do it face-to-face. It was interesting, and of course, sad to see how Lucy, our protagonist, would deal with it.

Although I was looking forward to a fun, light read, #scandal still had its merits.
1) There was the underlying intrigue throughout the story of who ACTUALLY posted up the incriminating picture(s) and got Lucy into trouble. Who that turned out to be may or may not be so obvious to you, unless you’ve read/watched as many mystery plots as I have.
2) The relationship and sideplot of Lucy’s famous (albeit scandalous) older sister was an interesting look into family relations. You don’t have to like the sister, but she felt real and her character does develop over time.
3) The new friends that appear out of this darkness are all different, quirky and unique. A cute French Canadian dude who follows Lucy with a cute puppy-dog kind of love? A not-so-bad stoner known as 420? A crazy group of anti-vanity social media (ie. Facebook/Twitter) led by a leader in a wheelchair? Man, what a variety of characters! Not to mention, our own protagonist is an ass-kicking warrior/princess/mystery girl—that is, if you’re a zombie on her game.

I do wish that there were more Cole-Lucy moments. The story could have centred on them a bit more. I know (hypothetically, in their world) it made sense to lay low in the public eye from each other, but in MY world, come on! I was waiting to see him pop up whenever he could, though there were not enough dreamy moments with just him. Le sigh.

Overall Recommendation:
#scandal is many things all at once. A sweet forbidden romance at one moment, and a pulsing anger of betrayal in the next. From friendships forming to cyberbullying (and physical bullying) from the school population, this book covers it all. So I hope you jump into this knowing that it is way more than what it first appears to be. Reminiscent of The Unwritten Rule, it considers the consequences of being in love with your best friend’s guy, and finally standing up for yourself.

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