Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten Review

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Title: Wickedpedia
Author: Chris Van Etten (Twitter)
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish Date: June 24, 2014
Genre: YA, Horror
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher

Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia. They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole's girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.

It's all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident . . . just as Cole and Greg predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways . . . and those entries start to come true as well.

To his horror, Cole soon discovers that someone has created a Wikipedia page for him, and included a date of death. He has one week to figure out who's behind the murders, or else he's set to meet a pretty grisly end.
It's not a secret that I have a penchant for horror stories - whether they be of the literary variety or the film variety. While they absolutely scare the heck out of me, there's something about a well-time horror novel or film that leaves your skin crawling, and you feel the need for constant vigilance long after that last page. So, naturally, when Wickedpedia appeared on my radar, I knew I needed to read it. There's an inherent danger to this online culture that we as a society live in, and I was thrilled to read a novel that was going to not only explore, but expand, upon it as well. And, without fail, author Chris Van Etten gives his fans horror in its truest, most gruesome form.

Wickedpedia quickly establishes itself as a front-runner in young adult horror, and I say that in the most complimentary way. Mr. Van Etten is extremely explicit with his carefully-timed details and this sort of no-holds-barred approach to the violent acts committed within the book. And, while I have a pretty strong stomach, my friends, I must admit that several of the crimes committed and described made even my stomach churn. While this won't work for some, I think that the author took a remarkably clever approach to horror by actually sticking hard to his guns and the genre because so much  "horror" is watered down in YA. That said, I do think that, at times, the descriptions of morbidity actually overshadowed some of the more pertinent character details that I craved.

This is the sort of novel that is very heavy on the plot, and I felt as though I sort of lost Cole, Gavin, Winnie and Josh to the actual events of the novel. And, to be entirely honest, I felt as though Cole's character lacked a lot of the depth I hoped from him. Interspersed throughout Wickedpedia is a sort of casual romantic arc between Cole and Lila. However, I felt that it played a serious second fiddle to the past relationship between Cole and Winnie, which left that part feeling a bit redundant and superfluous. Furthermore, while much of the novel is bouncing from graphic details of crimes to murders and mayhem, the ending sort of just appears out of the blue, and I was left hanging and, quite honestly, wondering whether my book was cut off. I'm all for somewhat open endings, but a huge buildup without a true finale left me feeling a bit cheated.

Overall, I have to say that though Wickedpedia had a ton of potential, I felt a bit ambivalent about it in the end. There was so much more development that I wanted, and while I think the author has great potential, I think that the balance between details just wasn't there. I give this one a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to an upper YA audience who likes horror. Please also note that there are very gruesome and graphic crimes within this novel. 

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.

6 comments:

  1. WOW that cover is jarring. For sure that caught my eye. I don't quite know if this one would be something I could make it through, since horror isn't quite my thing. But if you say the ending was a let down, I definitely don't think I'd be okay with that. I need closure lol. Oh, well. Maybe one day I'll get the chance (and the bravery) to read it. Thank you for the review!
    -Ashley
    What's Your Story?

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  2. Hmmm, this made me really curious about the book but thank you so much for the warning about the ending, I'm not keen at all on big build ups and then extremely abrupt endings and only forgive them on books that will have a sequel... do you know if this is a standalone?
    Great review Melissa!

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  3. Even though some of the actions made your stomach churn (ooh, that means a big no from me), I'd think that any teen who picks this up would love it. They totally go for that stuff -- just look at Saw, The Purge, all those horror movies that are all about death and torture. *shudder*

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  4. Although that cover is really creepy, I don't think I would pick this one up, especially after reading your review, Melissa. It doesn't seem like my kind of book. Firstly, I'm one of those readers who needs to book to have a good balance between the romance and the plot, and that doesn't seem to be the case here. I also dislike open endings, especially in books like these where you're just waiting for a build up only to wind up being disappointed.
    Sorry this wasn't the best read for you, Melissa.
    Lovely review!

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  5. Even without the other flaws in this novel, I don't think the detailed horror would work for me. I'm sorry to see that, despite enjoying this genre, this installment fell flat for you. I hope your next read is far more enlightening, Melissa!

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  6. You're totally right when you say YA novels tend to skim over the horror aspect, which is why I'm excited to see books like this and Merciless popping up. It sounds like this is extremely gruesome, but could have been executed a lot better. Great review Mel!

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