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Young Adult Fiction 381
riveting and thought-provoking YA contemporary/suspense
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THE RUMOR GAME is a dark and riveting YA contemporary about the power and danger of social media and rumors. As high schoolers will know, false rumors have as much potency as true ones - it is all in how they spread and who believes them. Following a particularly terrible summer, Bryn is desperate to get her friends and her life back. Her momentary lapse in judgement has catapulted into something world-ending for a high school senior who had enjoyed popularity.

Bryn has been spending time with Georgie, her next-door neighbor. Georgie lost a lot of weight over the summer at a special camp, and she is not sure if she feels comfortable in her new life and the attention it has brought her. While she always dreamed of popularity, getting there is a mix between the good and bad - particularly when rumors begin swirling that she is hooking up with the cheerleading captain, Cora's boyfriend, Baez. Cora seems to have it all, and she knows that Baez would never cheat on her. However, as the rumor's keep swirling and the judgement falls on all three of them, she finds herself consumed and changed.

As the rumors continue to spiral out of control, friendships and alliances will change and the ugly truths of high school, social media, and the people who take advantage will appear.

What I loved: This was a really compelling story, and the three perspectives are each really riveting. In between the chapters are other elements of media, such as newspaper articles, online chats, and text messages that really help to bring the story to life. The writing is really consuming and pulls the reader into their stories and invests them in the main characters. An important theme for readers is that words have power and the choice in words and actions has consequences.

Other themes around prejudices in terms of the ways people of color and women receive the backlash, pressures of family expectations, social media, cyber-bullying, consent, assault, and mental illness really make this a thought-provoking read. While the characters are certainly high schoolers, I found the conversations one of them had with a therapist to be really intriguing and important in addition to poignant conversations they have amongst themselves. Many of these topics were raised in ways that will resonate with readers and merit discussion/consideration for broader implications but also for internal reflection.

Final verdict: A riveting read about the power of rumors and cyber-bullying, THE RUMOR GAME is a consuming and thought-provoking YA contemporary/suspense.
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