Published by Freeform on April 11th 2017
Genres: young adult, science fiction
Buy on Amazon
It would have been funny, if it just wasn’t.
Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.
Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.
A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.
The Takedown – a novel that grabbed my attention based on the cover at my local bookstore. I loved that a PoC was on the front, I loved all the little pictures and how sci-fi it seemed right from the start. So I had to pick it up. The premise was just perfect as well: I loved that the synopses was very unapologetic and I loved that technology and safety with online data was the central theme of the novel. I hadn’t heard anything of this one before the release (which I’m not surprised from Disney) but I decided to go ahead and take a shot on this book.
There were some things that I really loved about this novel. I did quite enjoy Kyla’s POV. I loved reading about a character that was written as “unlikable”; not sorry for who she was and for what she wanted, even though she went for them in a way that was often frowned upon. She could be labeled as a bully at times, as snotty and stuck up, but even though I was one of the unpopular kids, I was snotty and I was a bully at times as well, because I thought that I how you survived. So I’m glad to see that authors are starting to come around on injecting some realism into characters. I really love my straight edge MC girls, but I want to see those grey-area females, too.
Watching the friendships play out in the novel also allows a book to model that not all female companionship are makes of love and sugar and spice and everything sweet and gooey. Friendships fall apart, fade, and some people that you never thought you would grow closer to turn out to be the one friend you need the most. It was a bit heavy handed, but I enjoyed how the author modeled different friendships, even with parents and siblings, which is refreshing to see in YA. I can recall that friendship was very confusing during that period in life (hell, it still is) and I like to see books that help the reader see how to cope with losing friends and how to handle a “breakup” of non-intimate relationships. WOOHOO!
The romance was….woo. That was a lot to digest. I can really see where Wang was going with it. There were times that I really wanted Mac and Kyla to get together, but in the end, I really just couldn’t support the relationship. I really liked how the author was supporting a relationship that had “no labels” but….there really was too much drama, too much baggage and a lot of name calling and game playing for my taste. It was just really my cup of tea when it came to the romance part. I could have passed on that.
There was quite a bit of diversity. It wasn’t quite #ownvoices, but there was an Asian main character, and Mac was from a Hispanic decent, but the author had married into a Asian culture, so I wanted to put that out there for readers. I am going to add in here that one of the characters is proud that she is one of the few “white people” in her school. That was very disturbing. It was also glossed over. A lot of the students are minority decent and no one had an issue with this? Yeah, I find that hard to believe.
So, I really wanted to enjoy this book. I would have given it a high rating except….there is so much slut shaming in the book. Kyla warns us in the novel that she isn’t sorry for who is she, and what she thinks, but whole premise is trying to deconstruct the double standards in society regarding sex. Kyla’s reputation is ripped apart due to a sex video, which follows her everywhere. A stalker ruins her life. Men start to just proposition her because of this video. That is realistic, and it shows real life consequences that women and girls shouldn’t have to pay. But Kyla turns around and slut shames girls who consent for their bodies to be exposed on the internet, and I can’t stand behind that message. I’m all for screaming the idea that women should not be punished for having sex. It shouldn’t ruin a life, for women or men. But then to do a 180 and kick down women for sending a body positive message by calling them “skanks” and using other girls to further the plot by putting them with the love interest? That’s not ok, and it ruins that entire plot of the story. I’m really disappointed that it was never resolved.
So, basically, The Takedown is a story that a sex positive message is ok as long as you are not consenting to the images released online. Body and sex positive talk and images make a girl a “skank”, and boys that date a lot of girls make him a “skank” as well. This could have been a brilliant book, but it collapsed under its own hypocrisy.