Tuesday, 10 March 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Weightless by Sarah Bannan

Weightless is the new novel from Sarah Bannan, which is due for release this Thursday. Granted, I don't usually cover a lot of young adult fiction on the blog, as this is not a genre I tend to read very much. However, when I was sent the news about Weightless, I felt compelled to read it and once I had, I was extremely glad. Weightless focuses on the harsh realities of cyber­bullying in an American high school environment, which is a concerning problem in today's society that's ruled by the internet and social media.

In Adams High, life is going by at its usual pace; the Varsity cheerleaders, ever perfect and popular, are on the field, witnessed by the other students who could only dream of being one of them. Brooke and Gemma effortlessly reign over the entire school, no matter what others might sneakily be saying behind their backs. It doesn't matter when you're perfect. This is normality for Adams High, but it all changes when new student Carolyn Lessing arrives at the school from New Jersey, bringing with her talent, beauty and a friendly charm that instantly attracts attention.

Carolyn is perfect in her own right - she's pretty, kind and highly intelligent; who all the girls want to be, and who the boys want to date. And that's exactly the problem with Carolyn Lessing. As the weeks go by, Carolyn finds herself the target of jealousy and harassment, with vicious rumours circulating around the school and on the anonymous Adams High gossip blog. As the Hot List is updated on the site, Carolyn is ranked one of the top - and it's only a matter of time before the school's queen bees vow to bring her down.

I'm going to stop here with the story. One, because continuing would reveal big spoilers, and secondly, because Weightless is a must-read. It's powerful, it's shocking, and when the ending comes, it hits you hard.

Weightless reveals the affects that cyber-bullying can have on an individual, and just how damaging they can be, particularly among teenagers. As an adult, reading this novel was particularly frightening. I was bullied at school, and consider myself lucky that this was before the arrival of smartphones and social media, when the teasing stopped, albeit temporarily, when the last bell rang. Today, it's a different world, in which victims of bullying, just like Carolyn, can be made to feel hopelessly trapped.

Throughout the book, the narrator is never named - even though I assumed that the narrator is female, she describes herself always as part of a group, as 'we'. This is interesting, though becomes a little more sinister with every chapter. What starts out as normal gossip and general curiosity about a new student descends into something that there's no going back from, which is why this novel is such a real and powerful read.

I would fully recommend this book to everyone; adults and teenagers alike.

Rating: 5/5

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