Review: 52 Likes by Medeia Sharif

I originally rated this book 4 stars but have since decided to retroactively lower it to 2.5 stars to more accurately reflect how I felt.

Publication Date: January 16, 2015

After a horrific rape, Valarie is forced to continue facing life without knowing the identity of her rapist. She thinks that he goes to her school, but there's no proof.

Then, she begins seeing racy photos of other girls on social media, all with 52 likes. All of these girls have disappeared. Intrigued, she begins digging through a series of very specific clues.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This had interested me ever since I saw it on NetGalley and I was really excited to read it. The whole idea of girls who have disappeared having their social media accounts share the same number of likes caught my attention the most. If you think about it, in this generation and world that we live in, wouldn't it be scary if that happened to you?

The book starts off with a rape scene. Not too graphic or intense, but it really makes you feel for the main character, Valarie. Now, I just want to put it out there that I've never had such an experience before, so I won't claim to be knowledgeable about it. But I did think that the author did a great job of what is most likely to go through a victim's mind during a rape. To a very basic extent, I understand some of the psychology that happens when someone is raped, and I believe that my understanding did match up with what the author wrote. However, I did wish that there was a bit more focus on Valarie's experience after being raped. Yes, the book did talk about it, but I wanted more of her psychological mindset after the incident happened. Rape isn't something that someone can just get over, and it really does change a person. And while I'm not saying that the aftereffect of Valarie's rape wasn't handled well, I do think that it could have used more work.

A large part of this book focuses on bullying as well, with Valarie being the main victim. She experiences name-calling and some physical abuse when teachers aren't looking, and is constantly being slut-shamed. I haven't read many books that involve slut-shaming, but I have taken part in a couple of discussions about it in real life. What I think is slightly unrealistic is the word that is most commonly used in this book, "thot." Firstly, I had to Google that to find out what it means (That Hoe Over There), and then I shook my head because I don't believe this is something I've ever heard someone say before. I felt like this part of the bullying was slightly unrealistic, but then again, maybe this is a common word in other parts of the world.

The way that bullying was handled by most of the adults in this book just made me incredibly sad and frustrated. As school faculty, it should be their responsibility to put an end to bullying, whether it be in real life or online. If a kid comes up and says that they're being bullied, make sure that something is being done about it, don't shake your head and complain that someone is speaking up.

The investigative part of this book wasn't anything too special or impressive, seeing as the book itself is really short, but it is one of the better investigations I've seen in YA. The shortness of the book did cut into how detailed the investigation could be, but nevertheless, everything was linked together well and there were no plot holes.

Something that I found to be strange was the hint of a paranormal aspect in the book. I didn't remember reading about that when I first requested the book, so it surprised me quite a lot. While I felt like it was out-of-place and didn't really make sense, it did help the book along and played a part in the overall story. I was just slightly confused because I didn't think it had any paranormal elements to it.

I did have a bit of a problem with the character descriptions. This being such a short book, something is bound to be lacking, and in this case, it was character descriptions. In some cases, I would realize that I don't really know much about how a character looks despite half the book being over and done with. That did mess with the experience a bit, but luckily, I have a really good imagination, so I was able to picture the characters.

The ending was very satisfying. While I had already figured out roughly how it would end (blame all the adult mysteries that I read), the ending was still very good. There were no loose ends, everything was tied up, and I didn't have any leftover questions.

I really felt for Valarie. I could never imagine what it's like to go through something like that. Rape is something that I would never wish upon anyone. And the people who survive it and push through it, I believe, are some of the strongest people out there. Valarie was likeable, seeing as she was very much like real teenage girls can be. She had her flaws, which only made her more realistic, and she had made her share of mistakes. I really liked her as the main character and would have loved to have seen a little more of her if the book had been longer.

Valarie's mom is one of the rare, highly supportive parents in YA literature. Many parental figures in YA don't play a very big part in their children's lives and aren't very supportive, but Valarie's mom was the opposite. I loved how close they were and how much they cared for each other. Her mom's reactions were fair and expected in their situation and she continued to be a helpful pillar for Valarie to lean on.

Cookie, Valarie's best friend, was also really likeable. I loved her personality and how outspoken she was. She was a great friend and a great help to Valarie, never once judging her or making her feel bad about what had happened. I honestly believe that more female friendships in YA should be like this.

2.5 stars. While it's clear that I did have some problems with this, I did also really enjoy it. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fast read.

Thank you to NetGalley for hosting this on your site. Thank you also to Evernight Teen for approving my request to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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