Who can resist a book called Facebook Phantom? I am a bit of a Facebook junkie, and I confess to a sneaky addiction to paranormal romance, so this book had me hooked as soon as the manuscript landed in our inbox.
We read it and the voice of the narrator was compelling. It was the authentic voice of a teenager, full of optimism, smart, snarky occasionally, vibrant–and later, torn by the various dilemmas in her life. We signed it on with enthusiasm, and only some time later did we realise that the author was actually a teenager–sixteen at the time of signing the contract and seventeen now.
I like Facebook Phantom because it is a gripping story. It combines the genre which got its own life with Twilight, paranormal romance, with elements of good old horror and the more complex coming of age. The voices are very authentic, the lives described are ones one can identify with and the friendship between Li, Jo and Neel is of the kind of intensity that I remember dimly from my teens!
Li is very much an Indian teenager of today. We glimpse the secure affection of her family, the stable life of school/college/friends–and then the unexpected events which overthrow it so that life can never be the same again.
And like all good books, Facebook Phantom drags you into its narrative, and when you finish, you are a little shaken, and life–and Facebook–is no longer quite the same.
I’ve never really taken to Facebook myself, but I can see why it is so fascinating to young people. Facebook Phantom takes the obsessiveness of the Facebook generation and pushes it up a notch to create a story that is gripping and frightening. And yet what makes the book compelling is not just the paranormal romance – a genre that I anyway am not a great fan of – but the very real friendships and romantic relationships that the protagonist shares with her peers. And what sets it apart is the authentic teenage voice. The slang, the way the conversations go … only a teenager could capture all of that without irony and without sounding fake.
As I read the story I was impressed over and over again by Suzanne’s instinct for dramatic tension. And sometimes the moments and emotions are so well imagined that I had to remind myself the author is only seventeen. But then I would read a Facebook conversation between the characters and say to myself, no one but a teenager could get this so right.
You start reading Facebook Phantom because the title is intriguing, but you finish it because you can’t get to sleep until you do!