Online or Onstage, Things are Not What they Seem• It's an update of the classic tale of the pack challenging its strongest member: when Annalise, the prettiest girl, hooks the coolest guy, she brings down the wrath of her so-called friends• Using the online ruse called "catfishing," three girls plot to dupe Annalise into thinking the perfect guy is in love with her, with technology making betrayal easier• When the lies backfire, one girl breaks ranks and admits the whole thing was wrong. Reunited, the betrayer and the betrayed learn teens are the only ones who lieAnnalise is such a babe that everyone is jealous. So when her so-called friends decide to punish her for a daring freshman-year hookup with the cutest guy in school, it's really only an excuse to punish her for being everything they aren't. They "catfish" Annalise, making up pretend dream-guy "Declan," and everyone feels the initial rush when Annalise falls for it. Everyone, that is, except Noelle. She goes along with the sting only because she's had a lifelong crush on Cooper Franklin, who's now crazy about Annalise. But she starts to feel guilty just as Annalise discovers the ruse, and turns on the friends who betrayed her. Noelle begs forgiveness, and the two reunite, declaring they're finished with fakes forever. Then, at the concert of the year, the girls discover that teenagers aren't the only ones who are frauds, and their favorite band is a lip-synching band of phonies.
The internet is a scary place for many people. We hear a lot of things about a man selling something on Craigslist and then butchering people when they approach him for a sweet buy. We hear about mysterious scammers in Nigeria taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting individuals. But what we haven't heard is the emotional toll on these victims. And that is where IDENTITY CRISIS comes in.
Catfishing is a very serious crime. (Please don't think that this is a light prank. There is nothing light and funny about this prank.) Noelle and her friends cruelly decides to play a nasty "prank/joke" on Annalise by catfishing her. While Annalise thinks she is talking to this cute boy who likes the exact same things she likes, Noelle knows better. And shoving down most of her guilt, Noelle continues the prank her friends started. It's a cruel thing, and kids... are sometimes very nasty to one another.
The prank is almost bullying. Is bullying, actually.
From the very beginning, it is so clear that Noelle is doomed once Annalise finds out. Despite knowing the ending, I can't help but chew my nails out in anticipation and continue reading for the prank's inevitable downfall and its conclusion. Will Annalise forgive? Will Noelle feel regret? What will these two girls do now? It's an addicting storyline that shows the rise of the prank, the discovery, and the reconstruction of the girls' relationship.
Annalise is a character with less development when compared to Noelle. Of course, readers can't help but root for Annalise when she is being catfished and horribly humiliated. Then there is Noelle, who is wrangled into the entire conflict because of her friends. Noelle, who feels undeniably guilty for being a part of this, has a problem with her conscience, and she is unable to say a thing when Annalise discovers everything. Noelle (who is a narrator/character I strongly empathize and understand) gets into heaps of trouble, and she really does be better. Noelle is a far more complex and interesting character than Annalise.
The ending is perhaps the weakest part of the book. It rushes the story, and Annalise (too) quickly forgives Noelle for catfishing. It seems to be a huge letdown for angst. (It also makes this story for a little light reading, but I'm utterly disappointed that no one is punished. Catfishing... It's dangerous, not all fun and games.)
Overall, IDENTITY CRISIS is told from the perspective of two girls. It has an awesome and nail-biting plot, and the conflict is simply irresistible. Noelle is a character most readers can probably empathize with. The story is unique, and it's definitely for those who are looking for something out of the ordinary.
Rating: Three out of Five