The Chaos of Now

Finished The Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange. I received a copy for review at ALA.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Is it real if it happens online?

Life at Eli’s high school hasn’t been the same since his classmate Jordan committed suicide after being tirelessly bullied. Schools now have access to students’ online activities and students have less privacy than ever. Eli just wants to graduate—so he can get out of town, get away from his father’s embarrassingly young fiancée, and get himself a prestigious coding job. But Eli’s hacking skills get him roped into a vigilante website that—while subverting the school’s cybersnoops— seeks justice for Jordan and everyone else being bullied. Suddenly Eli finds himself in way over his head as his keystrokes start to have devastating consequences in the real world . . . This timely story from the author of Butter is a thrilling tale about the power of the internet, the young people who wield it, and the fine lines between bully and victim, justice and vengeance.”

I love Erin Jade Lange’s books. They’re compulsively readable and part of it is because the reader is always curious to see how much the narrator will be able to get away with. There is a cinematic quality to them; it’s so easy to picture everything. I’m hoping movies will be coming soon.

This one may be my favorite yet. We all know how awful cyberbullying can be but at the same time, there’s the question of how long it takes until “justice” or “vengeance” becomes a problem in its own rite. Eli and his friends may have started this with the best of intentions but it doesn’t take long for them to be seen as the villains instead of the heroes.

And that’s the thing, really. We all do great and horrible things; we all use words to heal and to destroy. But what action means most? Is it the best thing you do or the worst? Is it it what you do the most or is it just the most recent action?

Either way, Jordan’s suicide is horrific and it’s all through this novel. But no matter what Eli, Seth and Mouse do and no matter who they punish for it, Jordan’s still dead. They’re just adding to the collateral damage. Is that reckoning or just more carnage? There aren’t any answers to this, and the book doesn’t provide them. We all have to decide where we think things should go.

Highly recommended.

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