WANT: A DESIRE TO POSSESS OR DO SOMETHING. A WISH.
NEED: SOMETHING REQUIRED BECAUSE IT IS ESSENTIAL. SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
This is the beginning of the book. It starts right off with the website that is invitation-only. Kaylee is wary of it: you don’t get things for free. But when her best friend Nate’s brother gets the iPhone he asked for, and all he had to do was invite five friends, it seems like there’s no strings attached. Nate asks for an A on his Physics exam. Kaylee sees the site and rereads the question, “What do you need?” When she answers, “A new kidney for my brother,” she gets the response, “YOUR NEED REQUEST HAS BEEN PROCESSED. WE WILL DO OUR BEST TO SEE THAT YOUR NEED IS MET.” No requests to fulfill anything. And her account becomes private, though the site is anonymous; Kaylee is grateful because the site is only for Nottawa High School students, and people would know it was her request anyway. She is, after all, the one who went around school asking for people to get tested.
But as the site gains popularity, and we see the requests of other students from their POV, we see that the NEED requirements seem to change. Want concert tickets? Deliver this note. A computer? Just place this box on the front steps. Be sure to post a picture of your task and post it to the board to prove the requirement has been met. But after Amanda dies from a peanut allergy that no one knew about, from a cookie that somehow got into her hands, people are beginning to realize that maybe that innocent box was more insidious than it seemed.
No matter how many warnings are posted, no one actually believes that online behavior can hurt their lives or the lives of others. Especially if there is a cloak of anonymity. Everyone feels shielded, safe, and invincible.
This book was crazy. It was a suspenseful, fast-paced read. I felt like I finished it faster than most books, but that’s probably because of the pacing. I understand how this and Nerve would become movies…authors are showing us our online behavior does have consequences.
Is it Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes. I think this book would be great to use as a warning. High school students don’t see the repercussions of their actions. The one thing that sets Kaylee’s request apart from everyone else’s request is that hers is an actual “need.” Her brother needs a kidney to live. No one “needs” an extra week of winter break. It teaches the dangers of confusing wants and needs, and also the dangers of thinking things don’t have strings attached. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” my Government/Econ teacher taught me. And I believe it. But others don’t. There are all sorts of dangers in trusting the wrong people. This is what Charbonneau’s book is all about. I think it’s beneficial for teens to read this.
Lexile.com suggests 14-17, but I think 13 would still be ok. There’s no sex. No swearing. It’s a little intense, but not scary. The score is HL730L, the HL standing for “high-low” books. This means that it’s high interest plus low readability. It essentially means that though the text is intended for older readers, younger readers will be able to handle it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a 7th grader should read it. It’s still designed to appeal to those with higher maturity levels.
I give it ★★★★☆. Though the book was entertaining, I was not surprised at who the “bad guy” ended up being. But it was fun to read. The only downside? The main character Kaylee is extremely annoying. It’s obvious that Nate loves her, but she’s not sure how she feels. She pities herself way too much. She wallows in it. She’s just not likable. But you can ignore your loathing for Kaylee and still enjoy his book. I did.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and read NEED. Not because you want to, but because you need to. Ha ha. Get it? I know, lame.