Monday, January 5, 2015

"Who R U Really?" by Margo Kelly

Who R U Really?
by Margo Kelly

Who R U Really? is currently on tour with I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Thea’s overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She’s living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.
Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really “gets” her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most.
Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

When Tim’s eyes, bluer than an Idaho sky, met mine, my mind turned to mush. He towered above everyone else at the bus stop, and on this cold January morning he looked cuter than ever with his bomber hat and rosy cheeks. He shoved his sidekick, Josh, jokingly, and a cloud of white air escaped Tim’s mouth.
My best friend, Janie, whacked me on the hip. “Omigosh, Thea. Here they come. Smile.”
Her words bounced in rhythm with her black ringlets. She adjusted her new fluffy snow white parka, and even though it had a hood, she would never smash her perfect curls simply to stay warm. The crisp air made the tip of her nose red, but the rest of her face remained alabaster white. We’d been best friends for years, and at fourteen, having a friend made the ninth grade bearable.
Janie hoped Josh and Tim would ask us to the Winter Solstice dance, but I just hoped to speak to Tim without sounding like a complete idiot. Tim walked in our direction with Josh right on his heels. They stopped in front of us, and everyone else hovered to watch the show.
“Thea,” Tim said. I wanted to reply, but no words came.
Josh approached Janie, and I fidgeted with my favorite fuzzy pink scarf.
“Jan-eee,” Josh said, dragging out the last syllable of her name. He eyed her up and down. “You look like a giant fat marshmallow.”

Praise for the Book
"Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner with multiple suspects, a little bit of romance, and a strong but not overbearing message." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"Suspenseful novel that’s guaranteed to give readers goosebumps – particularly as events heat up toward the end. A good choice for families to read together." ~ School Library Journal
"Who R U Really? is a fantastically creepy book that is surprisingly realistic and totally engrossing…. Once I opened it, I couldn’t close it. Who R U Really? is a satisfyingly unique YA thriller that left me guessing up until almost the very last page…. This book is very realistic and I really enjoyed the writing style." ~ Tempest Books
"Based on actual events, the story should be required reading for all teens." ~ VOYA Magazine

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Fourteen-year-old Thea longs for a boyfriend, even though she's not allowed to date until she's sixteen. She joins an online gaming community and begins getting some attention from Kit. As Kit's advances become more and more aggressive, Thea begins to feel more and more uncomfortable. But who is the mysterious Kit? Could he actually be someone she knows? There are a number of potential candidates: her classmate Tim, Josh the bully, new boy Taylor, her brother's friend Marcus, self-defense instructors Jackson or Keith, even her volleyball coach Gavyn. Despite her parents' constant warnings about the dangers of the Internet, Thea continues her secret online life. What will happen when they finally find out?
The set-up of the story feels too unnatural, like the author is trying to teach us a lesson. The narrative is full of unnecessary detail such as what outfit Thea chooses to wear on a daily basis. I also found it hard to believe that Thea's parents could be so over-protective. Thea herself is not a very likable character; she is unnecessarily critical of her parents and makes some very foolish choices in relation to both boys and her best friend. I found myself not really caring what happened to her, as she seemed to bring it all on herself. As the story progressed, I became more invested in finding out Kit's true identity. But, in the end, it really could have been any one of the suspects. It almost felt like the author put all the names in a hat and then pulled one out.
Despite these drawbacks, this is still a timely warning for all teenagers and an insightful read for their parents. You never know who you are really talking to on the Internet. As Marcus says, "Online you can be anything you want."

About the Author
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly (US only).