Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: #SCANDAL by Sarah Ockler

Title: #scandal
Author: Sarah Ockler
Release: June 17th, 2014
Genre: YA contemporary
POV: 1st person
Pages: 368
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: e-ARC
Source: Edelweiss / Publisher
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

Lucy’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. Andespecially 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...learn more on Goodreads

#scandal is an honest look at the harsh realities of cyber-bullying and the torments high school teenagers can create for one another. While this story is no Twenty Boy Summer or The Book of Broken Hearts, it is an entertaining and thoughtful story revolving around family, friends, and our society's love for putting everything on the internet. With a highly relevant subject matter, considering all of the issues and tragedies that arise from social media scandals gone awry with teenagers, Ockler's story raises some interesting questions and ideas.

But, #scandal isn't only a look into cyber-bullying, but a fresh mystery with a few fun moments. Ockler always seems to expertly mix in the humor with the serious, effectively creating a good balance between the two. While I was expecting the mystery to be my favorite aspect, I quickly found the relationship between Lucy and her sister to be the most intriguing aspect of the novel, and wish Ockler had written more about them. Friendships – good and bad, new and old – play a strong role in this story, and a few of them really shine. Regardless, #scandal is timely, amusing, mysterious, and populated with enough wonderful characters to keep readers intrigued. 

Highlights: Ockler excels in characterization, whether it's Lucy or the side characters. They feels realistic, and they're each their own distinctive person. Lucy's sister was an especially favorite character of mine, with her complicated personality. Miss Demeanor's posts were a great inclusion, whether they were stirring up drama or even lending a helping hand. The subject matter is incredibly important, and I loved how Ockler portrayed it, along with Cole's supportive role in the whole mess. 

Lowlights: I wish Cole had been more present – while he was there to help Lucy through everything, he was easy to forget when he was off-page. If you're anything like me, then the mystery is easy to solve from the very first chapter. While I enjoyed this novel, I felt like it was missing a bit of Ockler's usual spark. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (low 4 out of 5). I think #scandal is great and probably worth purchasing. If I do purchase this story, it only earns a spot on the bottom shelves of the royal library. I enjoyed #scandal enough to want to read it more than once, but I do have some very minor issues with the story that I cannot ignore.


  1. Fantastic review, Lea! I have had my eye on this one, but I might wait to borrow it from the library. I love the premise involving social media (I would have struggled if I had Instagram, Facebook, and other social media when I was growing up!) and I think it's tough to be a teenager today. I really enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer, so I may check this one out eventually.

    1. Oh my gosh. I'm so glad social media was only just getting popular when I was in high school (and now it's impossible to avoid). It's easier to make mistakes online as a teenager now, and to deal with those mistakes with thousands of people watching online.

  2. The fleshed out characters and the realistic writing with cyber bullying sounds like a book that I would enjoy as well.

    1. Ockler's fabulous at writing characters! They always come to life and feel real.

  3. I actually haven't read any Ockler book, but it looks like I'll be marathoning through it someday-- which will include this.

    Great review!

    1. YOU MUST marathon her books! Twenty Boy Summer, The Book of Broken Hearts, and Fixing Delilah are her best.

  4. I have yet to read a book by Sarah Ockler, but I've been wondering if I should start with this one—it looks like I should! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Lea! Lovely review :)

    1. Hafsah! How is that possible!? I'd recommend The Book of Broken Hearts or Twenty Boy Summer the most (those are my top favorites from her, although Fixing Delilah is close), but this was a good book too!

  5. Great review, Lea - I believe yours is the first I've read for this one so it was interesting to read your point of view. It's good that you enjoyed it even despite some flaws! I haven't actually read any of Ockler's books of course, but I always hear amazing things about Twenty Boy Summer, so I think I'll probably start there first.