Author: Susan Vaught
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: September 13, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Del is a good kid who's been caught in horrible circumstances. At seventeen, he's trying to put his life together after an incident in his past that made him a social outcast-and a felon. As a result, he can't get into college; the only job he can find is digging graves; and when he finally meets a girl he might fall in love with, there's a sea of complications that threatens to bring the world crashing down around him again.
But what has Del done? In flashbacks to Del's fourteenth year, we slowly learn the truth: his girlfriend texted him a revealing photo of herself, a teacher confiscated his phone, and soon the police were involved.
Del never meant for any of it to happen. Neither did Cory. They were children, but they liked each other, and they decided that before they went too far too soon, they'd test the waters with photos of themselves. That one simple act sent Del's world spiraling into a dark abyss of beign a convicted felon and registered sex-offender. Years later, he's desperate to put the pieces back together, go to college and find a good job, but his past is still haunting him. Can he find peace with his past, make a future for himself and enjoy happiness again, or will his past haunt him forever?
You know, I've never really considered an "issue" book like this. I love me some twisty nonsense, but Going Underground was a whole new realm for me because it's something that I don't know too much about. Frankly, the only time I hear about someone releasing naked pictures of themselves, it's when I'm perusing Perez because I'm bored. Susan Vaught has cleverly crafted a story that tackles an extremely sensitive, controversial and delicate issue with ease with Going Underground. Creating heartfelt characters that display two sides to the controversy surrounding cell phones, their potential for misuse and the crimes that can be committed when using them. Rather than painting the story in black and white, the author has given us shades of gray in Going Underground, allowing the reader to see a victim in the perpetrator of a crime.
Going Underground wasn't the easiest read for me, but I'm by no means saying it was poorly done. The story was powerful and profound, and Del was an extremely likable MC. He was honest, respectful, hardworking and decent despite what happened three years ago. I felt for him and his situation, truly, I did. I think the main problem I had was that it's not an issue I know too much about, and I've always seen that one side of it. Sending inappropriate images via cell phones is wrong - that's what I believe, but Going Underground made me think because Del and Cory had no sort of malice in mind when they did so. It was curiosity - pure and simple. It was hard for me to reconcile the two. I will note that the book does jump from the present to three years in the past where we see what brought Del to his position today, and it was done well. The transitions weren't jarring, and it flowed smoothly. I also enjoyed the touches of lightness in an otherwise somber book...like the talking parrot, Fred. Trust me, she fits into the story of Going Underground seamlessly. The only other qualm I really had was that I felt the ending was a bit too convenient and too easy. Do I love ribbons and bows? Sure, but are they always realistic? Heck no.
All in all, Going Underground was a very good read, and I'm sure many a reader will get a powerful message out of it. I think my main problem was, perhaps, my lack of knowledge on the subject, but that's not to say the author didn't create a remarkable story. I give it a very strong 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to all fans of YA and adult reads, as well those who enjoy contemporary and issue books.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.