NEED by Joelle Charbonneau

Over winter break a new social media site crops up exclusively for students of Nottawa High School in Wisconsin. It asks one question: What do you need?
Okay. This book was seriously trippy. Throughout the book, the reader has this unsettling feeling. Who is behind NEED? What is their endgame? Why are they doing this? You’re just asking yourself these questions the whole time and that fact that I had no idea who or why really creeped me out. Overall this story really reminded me of the short story Button, Button by Richard Matheson (or the movie The Box based on the same story). If you like books about human psychology and human nature and that kind of thing, I think you’ll like this.

Our initial (and primary) narrator is Kaylee whose brother needs a kidney transplant. The book uses several different narrators to tell the story and that can definitely get confusing–I found it difficult to remember who was who especially since some narrators only have two or three chapters. Even though it was difficult to keep names straight, I thought the book really benefited from having so many different perspectives. Obviously no two people are going to react to this website the same way. Some people just like getting “free” stuff, some people don’t think it’s worth it, some people have real needs that they’re hoping to get, and some people just like doing the tasks. It was also really interesting because none of the characters new how their tasks were connected, but as the reader we can see more of the bigger picture and can anticipate how things might turn out.

Charbonneau was really able to create this great atmosphere by setting the story over winter break. It’s cold outside, there’s snow on the ground–really it feels like anything could happen and you wouldn’t be surprised. It also creates the feeling that the people of this town can’t escape or get away. It’s too difficult to really drive anywhere with the snow on the ground so everyone is essentially trapped.

Overall, I thought this book was really good. There were a few things that I didn’t quite enjoy which is why it didn’t get five stars. The ending was a little weird…But even with that, I would definitely recommend it. It’s so different from The Testing series, it’s honestly amazing that it came from the same author. The book definitely had an overall message: You can’t get something for nothing. There are always consequences.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None (that I remember at least)
Violence: Heavy. No overly explicit descriptions.
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild