Author: Margo Kelly
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review.
Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.
Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.
I'll admit it, I've played online RPGs a fair amount. But I've never gotten in a situation like Thea (mainly because I play MMORPG like they are single player and never talk to anyone except my boyfriend). But I know of people who met on one and actually ended up getting married! So clearly not everyone who wants to meet up IRL is a psychotic murderer. I did find this book a little preachy like that. Thea literally played with only 2 people that she didn't know IRL and one turned out to be totally evil. I know it could happen, but I still think the majority of people playing these games are normal people like me and you totally can have online friends, despite what the detective in the book says.
This book was really engaging. Like I would sit down to read a chapter and end up reading three or four. It kept me wanting to know what happened next for Thea and Kit! I have a bit of ADD, so I love it when a book can really hold my attention like that.
Thea kind of got on my nerves. She was really sullen and secretive. Her mom tried so hard to forge a connection with her, but she constantly pushed her away, which is probably pretty true to some teenagers, but still annoyed me. She also kept so many secrets for everyone that was trying to help her. I remember being a teenager in love and how all-encompassing it was, but so many times I just wanted to shake her!
As far as secondary characters, I really like Thea's mom. She tried so hard, but was still flawed and believable. I felt like her brother Seth could have had a bigger role, instead of just popping up to either drive Thea to school or get mad at her. I wasn't a huge fan of Tim. He basically put his life on hold for a girl who wouldn't even give him the time of day for most of the book and kept touching her when she didn't want to be touched. I did like Thea's best friend Janie, but I really think more could have been done with her subplot and the impact of it could have been much stronger.
The other thing that bothered me was how quickly the author skipped forward to the part where Thea is already in love with Kit. She was already saying she loved him by page 50 (not instalove though, because a few months had passed in the book already). I would have liked to see the relationship develop a bit more, because I think that part could have been fascinating.
The ending though! So exciting and terrifying! I probably would have been losing my mind why more than Thea, because seriously, that is some creepy shit. And when we finally find out who Kit is? So creepy and ugh...
Despite my issues with the book, Who R U Really? was an interesting and engaging cautionary tale about internet safety. And a reminder of how lame online flirting is.
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