FICTION

The Popularity Code

S. & S./Aladdin. Apr. 2020. 256p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781534445192.
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Gr 6 Up–Middle school student Faith Taylor is popular by association, even though her true self is invisible at home. She is a secretive computer coder and working on a new app for homework help, when a new website called SlamBook hits the web and becomes the newest gossip at her middle school. While the posts start out nice, everyone soon becomes a target. Some of Faith’s friends are targets of racist comments and body-shaming insults. Using her coding and hacking skills, Faith sets out to uncover how the SlamBook website works and who is behind it all. Unfortunately, she also gets drawn into the drama and in the guise of defending her friends, begins to write some pretty nasty comments herself. After a series of concerning posts allude to a student wanting to disappear, Faith and her friends decide that enough is enough, and attempt to find out the identity of the distraught poster and how they can help them. As the story unravels, friendships are tested, alliances are made, and one girl’s quest to solve the mystery becomes a mission to save a life. While the theme of social media bullying is rampant in a lot of middle grade and young adult literature, Faris’s novel is a good entry point for libraries seeking a timely novel on this subject.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for libraries looking to boost their lower middle grade collections with current topics.

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