Someone is being harassed or humiliated every day online because someone else has decided that person is fundamentally bad. Sometimes a social media vigilante beats the war drums and all the digital villagers rush out with pitchforks and fire before they know what’s what. I know. I’ve been there.
“The wrong started on a sidewalk in the ninth grade when your friends hurt my feelings and I let the hurt fester into hate.” Gone Too Farby Natalie D. Richards
It’s so easy to fall into that condemning game, especially when experiences have created suspicions or bitterness. And, let’s face it, a lot of social media centers on stoking hidden hurts or real fears until they turn into the flames of righteous indignation. Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards is a YA novel that takes on the world of hurried judgments, online exposure, and stealthy stereotypes while propelling the reader through a compelling mystery and romance.
This young adult novel is equally satisfying for its mystery as for its romance and character development. Not only is Nick—”adorable jock” and male love interest—more complicated than he first seems, but so too are the friends/family/enemies of the main character. No one is as simple or baselessly evil as they appear on first glance. I love that. By getting to understand the motivation and circumstances of these character’s lives the author exposes how quickly hatred and snap judgments can get out of control. The author does a great job of showing people are complicated, with serious backstories, and both good and bad characteristics. She also does a great job of tugging at the heartstrings, speeding up the tension, and making it hard to put the novel down.
“The world I’ve lived in for seventeen years is going to end tonight, and I don’t know what comes after.” Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards
Senseless rage, subtle transformation, tender romance, and vigilante justice gone wrong complicates, intensifies, and fuels this story. I found myself hurriedly reading pages as the mystery and characters unraveled and spun into something else entirely. Yep. I didn’t guess the ending. And that’s the best part. I didn’t figure out the ending, but I didn’t feel cheated by the ending. There’s nothing more annoying than getting to the end of a mystery and finding you didn’t guess it because the author held back vital information. That wasn’t the case here. In Gone Too Far the ending was satisfying and believable and kept with the theme. It made perfect sense. And, like the novel and characters, wasn’t simple or black and white.
Natalie D. Richards won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn’t dare do the dishes.) Now she writes about awesome girls, broody boys, and all things dark and creepy. When she’s not writing or shopping her manuscripts, you can probably find her wading through the towers of dog-eared manuscripts that have taken over her bedroom. Natalie lives in Ohio with her techno-wiz husband, three amazing kids, and a seventy pound dust-mop who swears he’s the family dog.