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In The Testing trilogy author Joelle Charbonneau’s latest book, NEED, Kaylee Dunham wants nothing more than a kidney for her brother, DJ. In fact, she needs to find him one. Since her dad left, she’s become more and more desperate to help DJ recover from his illness. With no way to contact her father and her mother growing increasingly distant, the only person Kaylee can rely on is her best friend, Nate. So, when Nate introduces her to a new social media site called NEED, which promises to fulfill users’ requests in exchange for certain tasks, Kaylee trusts him enough to try it.

Soon enough, almost everyone from Nate and Kaylee’s high school is a member of NEED. But NEED isn’t like other social networking websites…the tasks users are asked to complete quickly become dangerous, some even criminal. Yet, the anonymity of the website means that it’s harder for members to say no --- especially if meeting the requirements gets them something they want. The website continues to grow, and Kaylee is suddenly mixed up with something potentially bigger than her brother’s sickness; the more that people contribute to NEED, the more she becomes convinced that something is seriously wrong with the site and those involved…and she needs to fix it.

NEED is a suspenseful, provocative novel. Told from numerous perspectives, the story flashes back and forth between narratives in a way that makes every chapter enthralling. NEED is truly a page-turner, with plenty of conflicts and plot twists. The plot is extremely well thought-out and will leave you guessing until the end.

"NEED is a suspenseful, provocative novel. NEED is a thought-provoking, thrilling story that will have you captivated to the very last page."

However, the characters are slightly underwhelming. As a reader, I wanted to like Kaylee and Nate a lot more than I actually did. I felt slightly let down by what I felt were characters that had potential but came off a bit one-dimensional. That being said, I didn’t dislike the characters; I merely think the very well-developed plot overshadowed the players within.

In its content and foundation, NEED showcases issues that have become very prevalent. In a world that is totally obsessed with technology, we, especially teens, have stopped questioning the new tech infiltrating our lives. The newest app? Media site? Device? Without hesitation, we download, click and share. On the Internet, our lives and actions are public, but selectively so. NEED makes readers think twice about this nonchalance. The story discusses the sort of protection provided by the impersonal shroud of a computer screen. In fact, it pushes the concept to its limit, testing its characters’ willingness to comply with what they’re instructed to do without questioning.

Charbonneau’s exploration of the teenage psyche and the influence of the Internet is stimulating, but at times I felt it might’ve gone a bit too far. Admittedly, it could be me who’s the problem --- maybe I’m simply too cynical, or, conversely, too disposed to believe in the good in people --- but I found myself unable to believe every part of the story. The drama of the plot --- particularly at the end of the book ---is quite intense, and it sometimes felt like shocking things happened simply for the sake of another twist. All in all, though, NEED is a thought-provoking, thrilling story that will have you captivated to the very last page.

For fans of mysteries and thrillers, those who want a new perspective on the integral role of technology in our society and those who are looking for an exciting, captivating read, NEED is a novel you will definitely enjoy.

Reviewed by Laura T., Teen Board member on November 3, 2015

by Joelle Charbonneau