KLIATT - Stephanie Squicciarini
Linda, not known for being much of a social person, and her friend Janice, known as the class grump, normally agree on anti-school thoughts, but have come to disagree thanks to a new feature on the Wellington High School website. Chat rooms have been made available to students, and Janice tries to dissuade Linda from getting involved due to the potential danger. Linda decides to give the chat rooms a try and finds herself becoming more outgoing and comfortable with herself in the process. As "Roxanne" in the chat room she does not get teased or picked on for her comments and she finds a level of acceptance she never had before. She builds an online rapport with a student known as Cyrano and after leaving hints for Cyrano about what she will be carrying while at a school basketball game, things heat up even more to include a possible mistaken identity, a secret admirer, and the real possibility that Linda has put herself in danger. Teens can obviously relate to chat rooms and this new addition to the Orca Currents series offers a balanced look at the social connections, both real and virtual, and the basic need to feel accepted.
Linda, although intelligent, is shy and withdrawn. She finds it difficult to make friends and break out of her shell. She is initially dismissive of the chat room set up by her high school but is slowly drawn to it. Soon, in the school's chat room, she finds the popularity missing in her real life. When another chatter starts hinting that he would like a real-life relationship and Linda starts receiving gifts from a secret admirer, Linda must decide if a real-life relationship can be as authentic as a cyber one. An offering from the Orca Currents line, the novel is designed for the reluctant reader. The font is large, the language is easy, the plot is compelling, and there is plenty of white space on the page. Nevertheless Butcher manages to sneak more difficult words into the text occasionally. The subject matter is topical and will appeal to readers familiar with instant messaging and MySpace.com. Butcher tends, however, to soft-pedal the dangers of a chat room romance. Although the author tries to warn readers of chat room dangers through an ancillary character and in the climax, the largest danger for the heroine is embarrassment. Its subject matter and breezy style will still make it a novel sought by female reluctant readers. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Orca, 112p., and Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature - Nancy Partridge
In this installation of the "Orca Currents" series, the author bravely takes a look at the controversy surrounding teenagers, the Internet, and private chat rooms. The plot is fairly simple, while the issues are not. The illusory nature of the Internet is subtly brought up, as when 9th-grader Linda checks out the school Web site for the first time and notices that the image of the school looks like a picture postcardtoo good to be true. Her experience logging into the school chatroom for the first time, the panic she feels choosing a pseudo name, and the heady feeling of actually entering the room, are very realistic. Burning eyes and the hours lost online, all ring true. As Linda becomes hooked on chatting, the guilt of undone homework, and the necessary lies to adults she cares about, make the chat room experience a mixed bag. At the same time, one of the boys is so nice, and he seems to like her. When she gets the chance to meet him in real life, her friend warns her of danger, and her fear is palpable. Still, she has to go to find out. And in the end, there are a few surprise twists that lead to a satisfying conclusion; including Linda's necessary realization that "you can't really find out what someone is like by what they say online, can you?" A very palatable attempt at a difficult and emotionally fraught subject.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In Sewer Rats, Jim and his friends are part of a league of paintballers who play in the town's sewers. When a member of their team sabotages a match, her mates try to confront her. She runs into the tunnels when a rainstorm hits, and they must find her before the water rises. Suspense builds as Jim tries to overcome his fear in the drainpipes. In Chat Room, Linda, a quiet underclassman, strikes up conversations with a mysterious Cyrano in her school's new monitored chat room, only to find that her visions of the real Cyrano are far from the truth. Butcher hammers home warnings about online predators, and the chat dialogue is less than authentic with its complete sentences and absence of lingo. Real chatters will see past the fa ade, but the topic will generate some interest. With short chapters and written in an easy style, both books will appeal to reluctant readers. Adequate choices for heavily circulating paperback collections.-Delia Carruthers, Sunset Ridge Middle School, West Jordan, UT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Canadian Book Review Annual
"A good high-interest, low-vocabulary read for reluctant female middle-schoolers. Recommended."
Read an Excerpt
I didn't allow myself to think about what I was doing, because if I did, I knew I would chicken out. I just typed the name and hit Enter.
Zhwuuup! In a flash my information was gone, launched into cyberspace somewhere. Before I had time to blink, a new page appeared on the screen. It was bare except for two short sentences: You are logged on, Roxane. You may now enter a forum.
My heart started beating so hard it hurt. Oh my god--what had I done? I was a registered chatter! Now I could be traced. The site administrator could track me down.