Getting in is hard. Staying in is harder… Joining social network Populatti.com let sixteen-year-old Livi Stanley trade her awkward middle school past for the social life of her dreams. Because Populatti isn’t just a social network. It’s a club, providing access to friends. Parties. And Livi’s crush, star baseball player Brandon Dash. Yet lately, online rumors have been threatening Livi’s place in the group. And not even her friends are doing much to stop them. Leaving Livi to prove them wrong, and fast. Before her life as a popster is over.
This book takes a look at how much social media controls our lives from a high school point of view. From determining who we talk to and much more, it has a hold on more than we think. We probably check our social media more than we would like to admit, and from the likes, retweets, and shares, it has become somewhat of a social media status symbol. The more likes, the more popular you are online, right?
So when I first read the storyline to Populatti, I found it intriguing. The book was bringing the issue of social media and its importance to the Young Adult world. It is safe to say that social media determines a number of things for us. For ones who may start having a crush on someone, you can probably bet that they have “Facebook stalked” the other person. So our appearance online can cause people to cast judgments on others because of what they say, do, and even post online. Comments on threads go a long way and can hurt the one who is at the receiving end. You can find this sort of thing play out in the book. Overall, social media is partially another identity for ourselves.
The main reason why I really liked this book was that it was not an ordinary YA book. It tackled topics such as self-identification, social media, and the importance of communication and even judgment. The struggle of growing up and finding yourself is quite different in the digital age, and Populatti proves it to be so.
While I was reading the book, I immediately fell in love with Livi. She was one who I could relate to. She came from a background where she was picked on and fought her way to fit in. I know that we have all had times where we were trying to fit in with others, and sometimes our own unique identity gets meshed into this mess of what people think we are and what social media claims us to be. It is an inner battle we fight every day.
Moreover, this book digs deeper into adding the element of how one particular website rules the social lives of the young elite. From the parties to the percentage rating of each Popster, everything is at stake each and every single day. Livi learns that rumors can get the best of you. Her actions are twisted to mean one thing and her social life gets turned upside down after a little mishap. Just one little mishap and it jeopardizes her friendship with her closest friends. Not only that, but her potential love life is at stake, too. It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least.
Throughout the battle between trying to get back into the Populatti circle, we see how much of an influence this website can have. It is not a good feeling to be the odd man out or to be outside looking in. People’s opinions on the internet hold a lot of weight. The need to fit in has not been greater, especially in high school. The push and pull relationship between trying to be yourself and trying to keep your percentage up has been interesting to read.
Let’s just say that the hierarchy in high school is definitely not what it used to be, especially with the Populatti website playing an active role. I recommend this book to all you social media lovers as it will make you see how much control social media has on us. Also, it shows how it influences our behavior, who we hang out with, and more. But for all you love birds out there, there is a bit of romance throughout the book as well. So be sure to pick up a copy!
Category: Young Adult Fiction, 340 pages
Publication date: 10/7/2014
Publisher: Tautog Press
Meet the author: Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper
Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper is an author of young adult realistic fiction. Her first novel, On the Line, is an honorable mention recipient in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. She releases her second YA novel, Populatti, in time for National Anti-Bullying Month this October.
She graduated with honors from Cornell University, where her thesis addressed the emerging field of social media. She now lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband, Tad, and daughter, Cecilia. Bardenwerper worked in public relations and marketing for seven years before deciding to devote her time to writing and raising her daughter. She is also an avid runner and, as may be evident in her writing, loves the beach and ocean.
For more information, check out:
Twitter: @JackieBardenwerper, @populatti