Review: NEED


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Title: NEED
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Release date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook


“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”

Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.


NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my hones thoughts about the book.

The Review

Joelle Charbonneau’s NEED is a shocking, chilling, disturbing and thought-provoking read that asks what you’d be willing to do and how far you’d be willing to go to get what you think you need. Its answer is perturbing and unsettling and yet utterly fascinating. It’s a story that takes a look at the darker side of human nature and posits that greed, envy, and fear are often stronger motivators than heroism, bravery or selflessness. It’s disconcerting. It’s sinister. It’s scarily realistic.

What do you NEED?

It sounds easy enough. Sign up. Tell it what you need. Invite a few friends. Receive your prize. It’s a gimmick, a marketing ploy. Who doesn’t want free stuff? It’s not asking for much.

Ask for something else you need. Because, hey, why not. Sure you might not really need it, but you want it. You’ve already invited your friends, so that’s out. Deliver a package? No problem. Does it really matter what’s inside?

Need something else? Sure you do. And so what if you’re not thrilled with what you’re supposed to do to get it. Nothing bad can happen. No one will get hurt. And if for some reason they do, they probably deserve it. Right?

Told from multiple points of view, with only the main character Kaylee’s voice in the first person, the requests of each character are revealed along with their level of willingness to do what is asked for their requests to be fulfilled. Each starts off with the promise of receiving something great in exchange for doing very little. But every new request demands more reciprocity until they’re forced to ask the question: is it worth it?

Joelle Charbonneau did a masterful job of intertwining and layering each character’s story. There were no extraneous characters – everyone had a part to play. The plot was complex, but not complicated. The story was at times harsh, violent, upsetting, but not unnecessarily so.

The author created an unlikely hero in Kaylee, a girl so desperate to help her brother that she’d do anything to save him, and surrounded her with a variety of characters who ran the gamut from selfish, to vengeful, to envious, to guilt-ridden, to lovesick, to conniving, to opportunistic, to frantic, to innocent, to murderous. She gave them all a level playing field and let their choices dictate the outcome.

NEED is a story that will make you think, make you question your own limits, make you reevaluate your wants versus needs. It reveals how the desire for something can bring out the worst in people. It shows that everything has a price and that there are always consequences for one’s actions. It’s grim. It’s disheartening. It’s compelling, it’s surprising, it’s startling. And it is certain to prompt discussion both during and after the read.

The Rating


About Joelle Charbonneau


Joelle has performed in opera and musical theater productions across Chicagoland. She now teaches private voice lessons and is the author of the New York Times best selling THE TESTING trilogy (THE TESTING, INDEPENDENT STUDY and GRADUATION DAY) as well as two mystery series: The Rebecca Robbins mysteries (Minotaur Books) and the Glee Club mysteries (Berkley). Her YA books have appeared on the Indie Next List, on the YALSA Top 10 books for 2014 as well as the YALSA Quick Picks for reluctant readers. Paramount optioned THE TESTING as the project is currently in development.


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