Hey guys! Welcome to my stop for Kara McDowell’s “Just for Clicks” blog tour, hosted by the amazing people at the Fantastic Flying Book Club! After checking out my review, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the chance to win a copy of the book!
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.
Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .
I received an advanced e-book copy on NetGalley from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
I’d never heard about this book before and just stumbled upon it when browsing around NetGalley, drawn to the absolutely adorable cover. Then I read the synopsis and thought the concept of the heroine’s mother being the blogger was so intriguing and different. I had only read YA books where the heroine is the blogger, not the parent so I’m really curious to see how things play out. I’m also excited to see how Claire and Poppy deal with these “internet trolls and would-be kidnappers”, and to uncover what their mom’s secret is.
Things I Liked:
With basically her entire life on display online for anybody to see, Claire was the black sheep in her family (or, at least, she felt that way). Her twin sister Poppy and blogger mother reveled in all the attention and perks of being internet celebrities, but Claire was more of the introvert of the family and only went through the motions (often begrudgingly) to appease them. She valued her privacy and genuine relationships more than whatever the internet could give her, which is why throughout the novel we see her struggle to discover her identity and who she is without her family to define her. I really enjoyed how thought-provoking this was, especially in regards to the double-edged sword of being famous online influencers and the complexity our relationship with social media. I’m friends with a few Youtubers who could be considered ‘internet celebrities’ and have fans and haters of their own, just like Claire and Poppy so I couldn’t help but think of them while reading this.
I really enjoyed Claire’s voice and her character in general; she just felt like a genuine teenager. Yes, I got a bit frustrated with all the times she made assumptions because, of course, they were mostly – if not all – incorrect, but seeing her acknowledge her mistakes later on and coming to the realization that most of her problems could have been avoided had she not made them was very satisfying to see. I couldn’t help but cheer her on, even though I could see when she was making a mistake and could already tell how it would blow up in her face later on; it was endearing to see her develop and mature over the course of the story. I really felt a connection to her when she struggled with social anxiety and rooted for her immensely when she was able to push past it.
I’m a little bit on the fence about the romance between Rafael and Claire. I didn’t feel the connection between them at the meet-cute scene; I actually felt awkward, but I wonder if that was the intention? What I actually did end up enjoying about it was the slow-burn of it and how their relationship started off as friendship first. Rafael was really endearing, and such a sweet and nice boy who is slightly technophobic. It was interesting to see someone so young not interested in the internet and cellphones at all, and able to get along just fine without them.
There are also cute little chats, emails, comment threads, etc. at the end of every chapter and I thought these were such a nice touch that helped emphasize what was going on in the online world of the book.
Things I Disliked:
With the exception of one plot twist, the story was very predictable and within the first quarter of it I already knew what the major themes and takeaways would be at the end. I also had some issues with a few characters – specifically Poppy, Olivia, and Rafael (*gasp* sorry). Poppy felt really one-dimensional until about the last quarter of the story. I wanted to feel the closeness she and Claire shared but only saw it near the end. Olivia was the typical fake-friend “mean girl” of the group and just felt like a plot-device to help add drama between Rafael and Claire. And as for Rafael, even though I did like him most of the time, there were moments when things he did or said really bothered me, too. For example, near the end of the big reveal/plot twist he reacted very inappropriately and disrespectfully. He sort of felt out-of-character, almost.
Lastly, the last quarter of the book where all the problems between Claire and her family were resolved felt too clean and easy, rushed, and just very inorganic. I didn’t feel the gradual change in Poppy and their mother’s beliefs and opinions, they just suddenly changed where they were no longer in conflict with Claire and finally saw their mistakes.
A cute and entertaining debut novel, Just for Clicks was not only a fairly enjoyable read, but also surprisingly thought-provoking. It made me think about our relationship with social media, how we perceive others lives through this narrow and deceptive lens, and the importance of family and genuine connections. It isn’t perfect and the best YA contemporary that I’ve read, but I’m glad I read it and felt intrigued exploring the complexities of online fame and social media.
About the Author:
Born in the mountains and raised in the desert, Kara McDowell spent her childhood swimming, boating, and making up stories in her head. As the middle of five children, Kara entertained her family on long road trips by reading short mystery stories out loud and forcing everyone to guess the conclusion. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in English Literature, Kara worked as a freelance writer. Now she writes young adult novels from her home in Arizona, where she lives with her husband and three young sons.
JUST FOR CLICKS is Kara’s debut novel.
Do you already have Just for Clicks on your TBR list? Share your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for stopping by my stop for the blog tour and be sure to keep up with the rest of the tour by checking out the schedule above. Until next time!