Twitter, Insta, Snap…okay, yes, sometimes Facebook, too—these social media sites are where we all live now. So it’s only natural that YA, which reflects who we are at any given moment, is rife with tales of teens going viral.
Here are 6 #awesome novels that weave social media into love stories, thrillers and coming-of-age road trips—just like IRL.
Followers, by Anna Davies
When Briana moves to her fancy new prep school, she’s pretty sure she’s got everything on lock: She’ll have lots of new friends, and she’ll get the lead role in the school’s upcoming version of Hamlet. But it doesn’t go that way. That squad never materializes, and Briana gets cast in a smaller understudy role. The director asks her to tweet updates about the production. So far, so ugh! But then a tweet goes out from her handle that she didn’t write. A tweet about a dead body in the theater. And then a dead body is found. In the theater. And it’s Briana’s rival. Things don’t look good for her…especially when more tweets go out, leading to more dead bodies found. The cast of the play is being wiped out, and it looks like Briana is tweeting her kills. She has to race to find the killer before she becomes the next victim. Loaded with tweets, laced with Shakespeare, and grounded in all the drama that Briana goes through, this one guarantees speedy page turning.
The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
This brilliant conceptual thriller is also basically historical fiction, set in the ’90s with a plot that revolves around an America Online CD-ROM (ask your parents). Emma lives next to her BFF, Josh, although things are awkward since the lines of their friendship got a little blurry. But then Emma borrows his all-new AOL CD-ROM which means…she can access the internet! (Times were hard back then). When she goes online, she sees a strange site called Facebook (it’s 1996, btw, so it didn’t exist yet). Weird. She finds her profile. Weirder. She can see her FB self—15 years in the future. She shows it to Josh, and together they start trying to change the unhappy future that they see. As the smallest actions reveal consequences via their profile updates from the future, Emma and Josh start to come to terms with how they feel about each other, and what they want from life. Thought-provoking and engaging.
Follow Me Back, by A.V. Geiger
A darkly twisty-turny tweety page-turner about social media and fandom, Follow Me Back focuses on Tessa, who’s severely agoraphobic, and can barely even leave her bedroom. Twitter is her life, and pop star Eric Thorn is her everything, especially when starts a hashtag about him that goes viral. Meanwhile, Eric is freaking out about being famous after a fellow star is murdered by a fan. Eric decides to create a fake Twitter handle and troll Tessa for creating the hashtag. The story unfolds from dual perspectives, weaving in tweets and transcripts of a police interrogation for a crime that only gradually gets revealed. The novel jumps back and forth in time so that we can piece together Tessa’s past, and her and Eric’s future. Compelling, with a cliffhanger twist at the end.
#16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue, by Janet Gurtler
The titular hashtag kicks off each chapter in this engaging and intense road-trip tale. Morgan lives for Twitter. It’s her outlet for everything, a place she can test out her creative writing, and she relies on a support system comprised of her followers. But when someone posts an embarrassing video of her on YouTube, and her mom gets hospitalized, Morgan starts to question everything she knows. Especially when her mom tells Morgan that the father she never knew—who abandoned them before Morgan was born—is alive and well and living a few hours away. Morgan’s friends Adam and Amy persuade her to go on a road trip to find her long-lost father. Tweets and text punctuate the narrative as the three friends discover a lot more than they bargained for on their journey.
Need, by Joelle Charbonneau
Kaylee’s brother needs a kidney transplant, and she’s getting desperate to find a way to make that happen. When a mysterious new social network called Need starts up at her high school, promising to provide students with anything that they, uh, need, Kaylee jumps at the chance to save her brother’s life. There’s a catch, of course: Need demands that certain tasks are performed in return. These tasks seem trivial at first, but soon become much more sinister when a student dies. Everyone wants to be part of the Need network, and the narrative escalates quickly through different perspectives as the dangers of anonymous posting become very real.
Defriended, by Ruth Barron
Jason is obsessed with Facebook. Specifically, with Lacey on Facebook. She goes to a high school in a nearby town, and they are super close online friends (even if they’ve never really met), with the same likes and dislikes. But then Jason discovers something disconcerting when he tries to Google-stalk her: Lacey died a year ago. Horrified by this discovery, Jason tries to find out the truth by seeking out Lacey’s friends and former boyfriend. Sprinkled with texts and FB messages, this social media thriller explores the hierarchies of high school and the perils of catfishing.