It would have been funny, if it just wasn’t.
Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.
Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.
A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.
Description taken from Goodreads.
This review’ll be pretty short because, all around, I couldn’t bring myself to love The Takedown. I don’t read suspense mysteries like this very often, but when I do, I like them sharp, smart, and punchy, with a great twist at the end. The Takedown had bits and pieces of the right elements, but altogether, it wasn’t there.
This felt like Mean Girls takes a dark turn. The supporting characters had barely more depth and seriousness to them than Regina George, Karen Smith, and Gretchen Wieners. I don’t know what the great fascination is with the rich and popular crowd in YA, but there wasn’t anything particularly compelling about the setting and characters. For the most part, the narrative talked about how they deserved to be popular because they were fashionable and smart, but mostly I got the feeling that Kyla was trying to come off as cooler than she actually was. The characterization and world-building ended up falling flat on their faces, and the other aspects of the story weren’t much better.
The plot elements of the story were intriguing–I won’t talk about the specifics for the sake of not giving away spoilers–but the twist was something I empathized with and hadn’t really seen before. I was still disappointed in it because it felt like the author wrote herself into a corner and then had to do a complete copout. There was no good way to end it with the way the story had been set up, but the twist was half clever and half a waste of time.
Just one note on the writing: I’ve expressed my dislike of making up words just for the sake of making up words in literature before, and this book falls into that slump. Slang and future words were mixed up for no reason, and it ended up bogging down the story rather than doing anything for it.
And, in the end, no one changed, meaningfully reflected, or showed any character development, so the story didn’t make much of an impact on any front.
It’s unfortunate, but I would much rather recommend Josin L. McQuein’s fantastic Premeditated if you’re looking for something with a similar feel. It’s not techy, but let’s face it: the only techy thing about The Takedown is the mention of social media and video, and those things have become facts of modern life by now. Would also look into Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series or, if you’re open to something more fantasy-oriented, Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall series. 1 star.