From Goodreads: 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.
When I was a teen, I played an online role playing game much like Skadi, and I met some guys online. The good news? We didn’t really have cell phones then… it was a new concept and they were really expensive, and since everyone I wanted to talk to lived in my tiny little town and had a landline, I didn’t have any use for a cell. Neither did the guys I talked to ask me for my number, but I do wonder now if any of them were potential threats. I’d forgotten about this phase in my life until I read this novel. I constantly spoke to a man in Denmark and a man in Florida–I say man because I’m pretty sure they were past college age, but I don’t remember ever really asking them. And I used computers at the local college for this, not at my house, so tracking would have been a little more difficult, but still. Wow. Technology is fighting and I can’t believe that I ever decided it was a good idea to start chatting up random strangers I met in the online gaming community… and back then, as a teen, I never even thought of predators or internet safety, which is what makes this story all the more real for me.
And while Thea is an aggravating main character because she just doesn’t get it, she’s very much like I was at her age. She’s oblivious to the world around her, it seems, and not even when her friends and family try to spell it out for her does she relent and realize the danger she truly is in. She’s so far gone believing that Kit is her one true love that no warning signs blare for her, and so I spent a majority of this novel yelling at her through the pages. Mainly because this is very realistic, even though I hate to admit that. I hate that there are girls who fall prey to internet predators, and I hate that Thea’s parents still couldn’t protect her once they realized what was happening. It’s a sick and twisted world we live in, but thankfully we have novels like this one that paint a very real picture for our teens and tweens—showing them that sometimes we don’t know best, that our family and parents can see things we can’t, and that we need to listen to them.
The plot itself moved right along, and I really enjoyed the novel, though I did find that the predator in this story was, unfortunately, obvious. There are some telltale signs early on in the story, and everything points to this person, so I was a little disappointed with this specific aspect of the story, but otherwise it was really well done. And while Thea did drive me crazy at times, I loved the suspense that begins to build as her parents get involved and strange things begin to occur. The end had me rigid in my seat, and I really enjoyed it. This is definitely going on my students’ outside reading list as an option. Four stars.
I received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for a honest review. This title releases officially on September 18, 2014.