Title: 52 Likes
Author: Medeia Sharif
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Publication Date: January 2015
Rating: 2 stars
*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
52 Likes is the first novel from Medeia Sharif that I’ve read, and I’m glad I received a copy through NetGalley so I didn’t have to buy it myself. I personally have not read many decent YA murder mysteries, so I was hoping for a change when I downloaded this one. Unfortunately, this one was just not for me.
The novel is about Valerie who is in her junior year of high school. During her sophomore year, she made a mistake that her classmates won’t forget; they bully her and taunt her every day for what she did. Junior year is worse, though — Valerie goes to the wrong abandoned house in search of a party and ends up being brutally beaten and raped. Before her perpetrator can kill her, he is interrupted and runs off, leaving Valerie to live with the physical and emotional scars. Not only was the rape traumatic enough, but now there are nasty rumors going around school that only fuel the bullies’ taunts. Valerie can’t seem to escape the memories, and someone (or something) won’t let her give up the hunt for her rapist. She starts receiving messages on a social media site from ghost accounts, pushing her to discover the identity of her rapist. Will solving the mystery bring Valerie peace at last?
The novel is told in first-person from Valerie’s point of view. This is where the author makes her first mistake. I think a story about a rape victim should definitely be in first-person, but I don’t think Sharif succeeded in this. I found it very hard to connect to Valerie. I don’t think her character was flushed out enough, so I was unable to really get to know her or care about her. In fact, I wasn’t really able to connect with any of the characters; they all just seemed flat and one-dimensional to me. I needed more emotion from a story about such a horrific topic, and I just didn’t get it here. Another issue I had with this novel was the plot. I am really bad at solving mysteries — really bad. That’s partially why I like to read them, because I am on the edge of my seat the whole time because I have no idea what’s going on. Novels like The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl had me guessing through every page. Most YA mysteries are simpler than adult novels such as those, but I think 52 Likes was just too simple. I was maybe halfway through the book when I had an inkling of who it was, and then I began to realize how blatantly obvious it was. Sharif constantly points it out and makes it quite obvious who the killer is. Maybe I suddenly got really good at solving these mysteries, but I doubt it — I just think it was too simple.
My final big issue with this novel is the writing; I found it to be very amateur, which contributed to the simplicity of both the characters and the plot. I thought the characters were immature and the wording was all wrong. I thought “thot” was used entirely too often and sometimes in really strange contexts. Yes, I know what a thot is, and I think it’s a really stupid 21st century concept, but I felt like it was overused. A lot of Valerie’s thoughts were repeated, too. Valerie would have thoughts and ideas in one chapter that were repeated almost word for word throughout the novel. I think the author could have broadened her vocabulary and maybe stepped up the maturity level a bit. I understand these are high schoolers, but it just struck a wrong chord in my mind. The dialogue was not believable at all, and Valerie’s thoughts just seemed…off.
Unfortunately, this novel did not impress me. I honestly did not even read the summary before requesting it on NetGalley, so the whole paranormal thing was a surprise. I didn’t really expect ghosts in a story about rape. Perhaps I’m being too harsh on the novel, but that’s my opinion; read it for yourself if you’d like, but I personally wouldn’t pay for it.