"Carey and Amelia have been best friends forever. Then Amelia starts being trolled by SweetFreak, a mysterious and hateful online account, and Carey is accused of being behind the vicious comments.
Shut out by her other friends and shunned by Amelia, Carey is determined to find out who's really sending the messages. But as the online threats spill over into real life, events start spiralling out of control...
Can Carey expose the real SweetFreak before it's too late?"
'SweetFreak' by Sophie McKenzie is a YA mystery thriller, following Carey who has been accused of sending horrible messages to her best friend Amelia under the alias of SweetFreak. Although juvenile in places, this was a very gripping read and whenever a new suspect appeared I fully believed that it must be them. I didn't see the end coming, and although I didn't like the way it wrapped up, it was a great read and had me desperate to finish.
Lately I've been on a mystery/thriller-esque buying binge and for some reason, I've felt drawn to Sophie McKenzie even though this is the first book of hers I've read.
I picked this up expecting it to be aimed towards a slightly younger demographic than myself, which it very much did read like, however, this did not stop me enjoying it at all. Despite some rash decisions and constant 'it must be *x*' every few chapters, overall, this book did keep me interested and I found the suspects believable.
I will admit I very nearly threw this book out of the window on the second page because of the godawful 'txt spk' (text speak)... Why is it that every YA author born pre 1990-ish thinks that teenagers today talk like this:
"Rly need c u, pls com now, usual plc"
This is exactly the... words(?) McKenzie used on page 2 of this book and I'll be honest, I nearly gave up there and then because I couldn't put myself through an entire book based on social media with THAT. Luckily, apart from an instance of 'we sed' a few pages later, all text speak is gone. THANK. GOD.
I mean, going back to when I was about 8, when phones were pay as you go and it cost 10p or more to text - and if you used too many characters it charged you for another text (think twitter) - we were restricted so we cut some letters out. Now? Now only a few of these shortcuts remain and, accept from abbreviations such as 'WTF' or 'OMG', they are mostly used ironically. I use 'u' and 'pls' but never seriously. (Example: can u not, pls')
My other gripe with this text speak is that it's not even something that ever has been used? I mean... 'com'... wtf is 'com'??? (Oh look, Emma's used an abbreviation. LOL... Why am I getting so passionate about this? I'll drop this in a minute I promise). About a decade ago, my generation would shorten 'come' to 'cum'. You can guess why that doesn't get used now.
Authors - stop text speak. Just write normally. Please. It's embarrassing.
So that turned into a bigger rant than anticipated. Apologies.
You'll be pleased to know that that was really my only issue with the book. If you forced me to find something else to be mad at, I would say the police investigation was a little shoddy. I'll keep this as spoiler free as I can but basically, they don't even consider looking into anyone else and they essentially have one piece of evidence that ties the crime to Carey yet refuse to look at the other people in Carey's house as being suspects because apparently people don't know how to hide evidence they used a laptop so there's no need to eliminate anyone??? Police would always eliminate the household but nope from the start it's made clear nothing will be done to help Carey. This is definitely a convenience for the whole book to pan out. Had it been written with normal police procedure done then I imagine half the book would never happen as the truth would be discovered. It's like how most middle grade books are following orphans or kids in boarding school, because a 10 year old with parents would never get away with the adventures in the book without social/child protection services getting the parents charged with neglect. Gotta make something happen to allow your plot to succeed.
All in all, I loved the twists and turns in this book. Some people have complained that 'every chapter has a new suspect' which is somewhat true but my only annoyance at this was that Carey was so certain it was definitely that person this time and it felt like whenever a new suspect was brought up the chapter ended with 'I know who SweetFreak is. It's *name*". Like it was dramatic the first time. You can bring the fourth possibility up in the middle of the chapter now. But, to be fair, Carey is a teenager and I think that although I'm only just shy of 21, I've already forgotten how it feels to be that age and going through life and what not, so I can forgive her for her drama - I've also never been accused of committing a crime and been under police investigation but I imagine that the second someone with a decent motive and probable opportunity arose I'd be exactly the same!
I would definitely recommend this book to those looking to get into crime or mystery novels but perhaps not for those used to reading more detailed crime novels. You can tell this is a YA mystery and, to me, it reads more like a contemporary for the most part. However, it was enjoyable and kept me reading, desperate to find out what happened and for that it gets 4 stars and has definitely sparked my desire to read darker, more serious mysteries and even some thrillers!