Published by Merit Press on January 18th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss, Blog Tour
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
When curvaceous Annalise Bradley’s scandalous freshman year hookup sparks the anger of her female classmates, three of them decide to get her back by "catfishing" her, creating a fake online profile of the perfect boy to toy with her affections.
Against her better nature, introverted Noelle Spiers, goes along with her friends’ plan, hoping to distract Annalise from dreamy Cooper Franklin, her lifelong crush who has fallen for Annalise instead.
As Annalise discovers she is being played and seeks revenge, Noelle increasingly regrets her role in the cruel hoax and tries to salvage their relationship.
Told in alternative perspectives, IDENTITY CRISIS covers romance, betrayal, and timeless friendship in the age of modern technology.
I really enjoyed Identity Crisis because I felt like it was a somewhat lighter take (though not too light) on what can be a very serious issue – and sometimes we need that. There are lots of “issue” books out there, and they’re all important, but they might not always feel accessible, especially to a younger YA crowd. This one does.
The synopsis describes the book pretty accurately, so I’m just going to jump straight into my review
What I enjoyed:
- The issue of catfishing explored. Unfortunately, in today’s age of technology, catfishing is a very real issue – it’s far too easy for a person to pretend to be someone they’re not. And bullying in this way is certainly not unheard of – some kids may see catfishing as a fun “joke” and others might be using it to be intentionally cruel – but either way it’s not a laughing matter. The fact is that being made a fool of in this manner is hurtful and leaves the victim feeling used and confused and more than a little sad. And, of course, then there are the cases where catfishing can be truly dangerous – where the perpetrator has harmful intentions. YA readers (and, really, all of us) need to be aware of these types of dangers and any book that helps them recognize the signs of this sort of situation is a positive, as far as I’m concerned.
- Noelle and Annalise. This book was written from the perspectives of both Noelle and Annalise. Noelle has felt pressured to go along with her friends’ actions and finds it nearly impossible to stand up for herself in the beginning of the book (we see lots of growth there, though!). I think that she embodies a lot of teenagers out there who know that certain actions are wrong, but they don’t feel strong enough to stand up to their peers – especially their friends. Noelle never feels comfortable with what she’s doing, but she ends up finding an actual bond with Annalise and holds onto the guise partially because of that. Annalise, on the other hand, was possibly a bit naive (there were signs that her online love interest wasn’t real that she chose to ignore – but that’s pretty much human nature), but she was a stronger person in general. She stood up for herself and didn’t let people walk all over her. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t hurt by the actions against her – after all, even strong people feel pain when people treat them badly – but she never let the mean girls at her school “win.” She never gave up her own sense of self-worth. I appreciated that an unlikely friendship that developed between Noelle and Annalise online – two very different girls who both felt alienated and needed someone to talk to. (I almost thought for a little while that the book was headed toward a romance between the two girls, but it didn’t go that way – which I was kind of glad about because the issue of sexuality seems a little too complex to cover in an online context – just because you connect with someone online doesn’t mean that you’re going to be attracted to them in person!)
- Easy ending. The only flaw with this book is that things were wrapped up a little too quickly and easily at the end. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of the actual repercussions of everything that happened. Still, I did feel like the happily ever after ending kept the book lighter – and, like I said, I appreciate a lighter take on these types of subjects sometimes!
I felt like this book took a serious subject and shed light on it without getting too heavy. It definitely fills void in YA fiction in that way. Just to set the expectations, I feel like I should mention that there’s barely a hint of romance in the book (unless you count the fact that Annalise thinks she’s starting to feel romantically toward someone who doesn’t exist – and there’s one other romantic angle, but it’s more of a side note than anything). Romance isn’t the point of this book, which I find kind of refreshing for YA. Overall, I give this one 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
NOTE: I’m including this book for the Unique Formatting Challenge, since a lot of the book is told through IMs and texts and such!
About the Author
Melissa currently lives in Boston with her husband, her daughters, and her dog, Bailey.