Stranger Than Fanfiction

304p. Little, Brown. Feb. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316383448.
Gr 10 Up—Steeped in pop culture references, this work tells the story of four friends, Topher, Sam, Mo, and Joey, who just graduated from high school and are about to embark on a two-week-long road trip from Chicago to California as one last hurrah before heading their separate ways. The common thing that has united them since adolescence is the popular show Wiz Kids. The friends regularly got together to watch the weekly episodes and have a shared sense of admiration for the star of the show, Cash Carter. The book opens with a chapter about rebellious Cash, who is going out of his way to do anything other than what his producers and costars would like. The production team would not like to see his recreational activities publicized, so Cash is immediately presented as the bad boy. Readers learn the history of the foursome and how they came to be friends before embarking on the cross-country rite of passage. These chapters go into more depth about each of the individual characters and their secrets. As avid computer and social media users who often send Cash fan mail, the four decide to invite him on their road trip. Cash responds with two words: "What time?" This quick read touches on many current trends, using teen jargon and references while also tackling identity issues of gender, race, and sexuality, among others. The characters all have absent parents, who neither understand nor listen to their kids. This title evokes a reality TV show, complete with teen angst and poor decision-making.
VERDICT An additional selection.

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