You want a reminder to change your passwords? Read The Takedown by Corrie Wang. Then, after 50 pages, you’ll want to go “off the grid.” Seriously though, the levels Wang achieved with The Takedown were fantastic and she did it all while telling a wonderful story. Before we dig in though, a quick recap.
Welcome to Parkside Prep in Brooklyn, NY. Kyle Cheng is a senior who has big plans for her future. She’s part of four-person popular girls clique, she’s beautiful, she’s smart and she doesn’t care what you think of her. From all perspectives, she seems to have it all together. In a world where technology is advanced and everyone who is everyone is on the grid and puts it all out there, your life is pretty much open for all to see. Kyle is blindsided right before Christmas when a sex video showing her with the cute, English teacher is launched for all to see. Except that isn’t her in the video and she wants to know who has it out for her. The journey will teach her a lot about herself and her friends and family. Who made that video? Will she be able to recover from the scandal?
Wang’s characters live in a world where the debate between our right for information and our right for privacy has ended. The right to information has won. While a lot of the technology will appear vaguely familiar, you can assume the world Kyle and her friends live in is 30 to 50 years in the future. It’s a destination I can see happening. So, on one level The Takedown is about this future of technology and all of the benefits and pitfalls it creates. She imagines a world more connected than ever before with apps that allow you to figure out who that cute guy is across from you on the train and send him a quick message, all without having to say an actual word. You can send an electronic payment to that homeless man on the street through his device. Yet, you can see the distance. The attachments to the Docs, the next level smart devices, and the lack of ability to disconnect from the information.
And then there is the second level to this book. The age-old quandaries of young people trying to find their way in the world with family and friends. The politics of high school are alive and well at Parkside Prep. Kyle is pretty up front about the fact that she has it good in high school. From the beginning, she admits we may not love her. And if you weren’t the smartest, prettiest or most athletic in high school, she’s probably right.
“I’ll warn you in advance. You’re probably not gonna like me. No matter what I write, you’ll think I got what I deserved…But I did always say there were only two ways to emerge from high school. Scarred or worshiped.”
In the end though, Wang creates a group of flawed students, teachers and parents. All of them are struggling in their own way. While it was tough sometimes to see it all when we were getting the story from Kyle’s perspective, but Wang does a great job giving us peeks into those other people. Kyle and her friends learn a lot about each other over the course of this book. Fair warning, the slang and speech patterns can be a bit all caps MUCH. However, it’s worth looking past them to the other levels.
Wang has created an intriguing look at a possible future with interesting characters and a fun journey as Kyle figures out who has it out for her. I highly recommend this read.
Thank you to NetGalley and the published for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.