Girl Gone Viral

Girl Gone Viral

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"For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch-- Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires. But she can't code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, Opal enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget. Until now. Because WAVE, the world's biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal's dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him. What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers-- or is it the attention-- she's wanted for years?"-- Dust jacket flap.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Philomel Books,, Viking,, 2019
ISBN: 9780425289907
Branch Call Number: FIC AHMAD A

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Minnesinger
Nov 20, 2019

Minnesinger thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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maroon_owl_145
Mar 24, 2019

maroon_owl_145 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 15

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Minnesinger
Nov 13, 2019

Author Arvin Ahmadi is in his twenties so he knows how young adults speak, plus he attended an advanced Science & Tech high school much like Opal’s in this novel, so he knows technology.

He has ingeniously created a futuristic world where virtual reality (VR) has become everyday, on a worldwide VR platform called WAVE, whose creator Howie Mendelsohn is clearly supposed to remind us of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. WAVE, like Facebook, starts secretly collecting personal data about its members, the only difference being the type of data: Here, it is biometric. WAVE starts recording facial expressions through the VR headsets members must wear to participate in, or “XP” (“experience”), VR “XPs” (experiences). When Shane discovers this and tells his friends, Moyo asks: What if WAVE goes even further and starts recording us when we’re naked in bed or in the shower? Not a far-fetched question when you consider that the default setting on pretty much everything today is for company benefit, not consumer privacy. (E.g., ALEXA, which records all voices in the vicinity without consent, forcing you to learn how to turn it off.)

The book’s plot is ingenious, the characters believable, there is mystery and suspense, and humor. The book is sure to appeal to HS juniors and seniors preparing for life after high school. The book’s characters may be college-bound, but all young people can empathize with the drama of high school, teachers and parents who don’t understand them, and social media.

As a former school librarian, I highly recommend this book for grade 6 and up. (I’d say younger, but for the naked-in-bed scene.) I would go so far as to recommend that this book be required reading for middle- through high school age. I urge adults to read it, too, and discuss with young adults. This book would be a great tool to discuss not just the virtues and pitfalls of social media, but also the enormous pressure some parents put on teens to succeed at any cost, academically or otherwise. Opal wishes her mother would just listen to her for once, not preach or filter her words through her own negative experience. Shane is self-medicating because of the enormous pressures his parents place on him. This book gives us a way to discuss what is—and should be—most important to us as individuals and to society.

Gift this book and use it as a jumping-off point for discussion. Recommend that your school- and public libraries purchase copies. Learn more about social media in order to discuss it intelligently with others, especially young people.

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