Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten

{Review} Wickedpedia
Title: Wickedpedia
Author: Chris Van Etten
Published: June 24th, 2014 by Scholastic Inc.
Pages: 224
{Thank you Scholastic Inc. and Netgalley for providing this in return for an honest review}

It's the return of Point Horror for the Internet generation! Don't open the door. Don't answer your phone. And whatever you do, DON'T turn on your computer. . . .

Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole's girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.

It's all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident . . . just as Cole and Greg predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways . . . and those entries start to come true as well.

To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who's behind the murders, or else he's set to meet a pretty grisly end.

So when I read the synopsis of this book, I really wanted to get my hands on it because it sounded like it could be somewhat like the horror films in the 90’s, which I absolutely loved.  Although the premise of this book is really cool, the execution was not so great.  There were a lot more things I disliked about this book than liked, which in the end, made this a not so enjoyable read.  

The first problem I have with the book is actually the thing that drew me into reading it, the synopsis.  After finishing the book, I feel like the synopsis is misleading.  The synopsis makes it sound like the two main characters, Cole and Greg (?), were pranking a lot of their classmates through Wikipedia, however, they only pranked one person and I would call it more like revenge.  I also have no idea why the synopsis mentions changing the Wikipedia page for Genghis Khan because that was not the Wikipedia page that was changed and that historical figure was not even mentioned in the book.  Also, there was no death on the soccer field.  Another big problem with the synopsis is the fact that it says that the two main characters are Cole and Greg, when in the book the main characters are Cole and Gavin, which is why I added a question mark above.  I know that I received this as an ARC, so things will change, but I checked the synopsis on Netgalley, Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobel to find that the synopsis was the same on all and had not been changed and the book is already published and available to the public.  I wish the book would have been a little more like the synopsis than it actually was.

I also did not enjoy the writing in this book.  I found it dull, generic, and confusing at times, which is disappointing since this book is full of mystery and character deaths, but was still unable to keep my attention.  I liked that Van Etten included a lot of technology in this book to make it more relevant for teens today, but at times I felt that it was distracting and was thrown in just so it could be included.  I thought that the messenger conversations worked a lot better than the Tweets, but I never really found myself enjoying either.  However, I did like that the killings were written in the killer’s voice, but the killer was still kept a mystery.   

I also felt like this book lacked a lot of depth and description.  I felt like there was a lack in describing the characters and the setting.  I did not know what the characters looked like, what their history was, or much about their relationships with each other.  I think this book consistently just skimmed across the top and never delved any deeper into a more complex mystery.  The one aspect of this book that did have a lot of description was the killings, which I did not find particularly gruesome, but I would also say the scenes warrant a PG-13 rating.  It is hard for me to pin point what age of readers this book is directed too since the plot is so simplistic, I would say middle grade kids, but then the killings, gore, and ages of the characters seems like it is written for 15-18 year olds.  

I really liked the idea of the plot of this book.  I liked the Wikipedia aspect of this book and that the deaths were predicted on the character’s pages.  I think that if the writing was better, I would have really liked the pacing of this book.  I felt like it jumped right into the action and several characters met their end by the middle of the book.  However, I enjoyed the second half of the book so much more than the first half.  The second half of the book focused on finding who the killer was and I felt the writing was better.  The mystery was interesting, but this book was really predictable.  Within the first half of the book, I had already correctly guessed the killer.  However, I did miss some aspects of the ending and the motive.  I did like the end of the book and felt like it was really fast paced.  I also liked how it ended, leaving the readers to guess what happens next.

I also didn’t enjoy the characters because I found them dull and lacking character development.  I really did not like Cole, the main character, because he had no personality and lacked common knowledge when it came to his decision making skills.  I did really like Gavin (or Greg if I go by the synopsis), Winnie, and Josh.  I really liked the witty dialogue from Gavin and he was really the saving grace of this book.  I enjoyed the parts he was in and he really kept me wanting the finish the book.  Winnie and Josh were also great characters that brought more drama and dimension to the characters.  I did have an issue with the character Lila because I felt like she was just thrown into the book and really served no purpose.

I also did not like that there was a little romance in this book.  Cole and Winnie were ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, which I did like, but the fact that there was a budding romance between Cole and Lila was really weird.  I did not feel any chemistry between the two characters and I felt like it did not belong.  It was awkward when Cole would randomly mention that he could like Lila, but nothing really ever happened.  I feel like both the romance with Lila and the character of Lila should have been left out of the book altogether.

Overall, I had a lot of problems with this book and there were significantly more things I disliked than liked.  Although I did enjoy the second half of the book more than the first, it was not enough to save this book from only getting a two star rating.  I feel like there are better mystery/horror books for teens/young adults than this one.  Personally, I would not recommend this book unless you are a new reader and in your early teens.  


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