I wish I could say that Barry Lyga swept me off my feet with his recently released new novel «The Hive». I wish I could say that it was the most amazing sci-fi I’ve read in a very long time. At least, these were my expectations going into this book. But it didn’t deliver.
We all know that creating too many expectations can go very wrong sometimes, and this was probably the case. While I loved the somewhat dystopian world created by Barry Lyga, I didn’t care for Cassie and believed her character to be very shallow and undeveloped.
Cassie McKinney has always believed in the Hive.
Social media used to be out of control, after all. People were torn apart by trolls and doxxers. Even hackers – like Cassie’s dad – were powerless against it. But then the Hive came. A better way to sanction people for what they do online. Cause trouble, get too many “condemns,” and a crowd can come after you, teach you a lesson in real life. It’s safer, fairer and perfectly legal.
Entering her senior year of high school, filled with grief over an unexpected loss, Cassie is primed to lash out. Egged on by new friends, she makes an edgy joke online. Cassie doubts anyone will notice. But the Hive notices everything. And as her viral comment whips an entire country into a frenzy, the Hive demands retribution.
One moment Cassie is anonymous; the next, she’s infamous. And running for her life. With nowhere to turn, she must learn to rely on herself – and a group of Hive outcasts who may not be reliable – as she slowly uncovers the truth about the machine behind the Hive.
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Thank you NetGalley and Kids Can Press for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.
What is the Hive?
We all know how out of control online interactions can get. How people seem to lose all their filters (and ability to think straight) when they are talking to someone through the internet just staring at the screen and writing obscenities after obscenities.
What if an online justice system would condemn those who misbehaved, allowing the population to execute the sentence. Is it the best or the worst idea ever to hand the execution to the masses?
The Hive controls online community, submitting the misbehaved to their punishment in accordance with likes / dislikes the post gets, and then schedules the time and date for the mob to bring the justice.
WHAT I LIKED:
1 – The premise sounded like one of the episodes of Black Mirror, and also terrifyingly close to our reality. Every day the online world consumes a little bit more of our existence. I mean… I’m running a blog here! We all exist online in some way or another. We all watched tweets getting out of hand, we’ve all seen the cyber bullying expanding itself. I wish there would be some punishment for those people, but I’m terrified by the idea of the Hive. By how easily things could escalate from a simple warning to a death sentence and a hunt.
Barry Lyga did an amazing job showing how scary this world could be.
2 – While I thought that the characterization in this books was very poor, there were some aspects about Cassie that I did like. Cassie McKinney, daughter of the famous (or should I say infamous?) hacker, who knows her way around the codes, who is brave and headstrong, but also genuinely afraid for her life.
Of course, Cassie had to be a hacker-genius, but I liked that she wasn’t good at everything. She had her strong points, maybe she was better than 90% of other professionals in this field, but there were others who surpasses her in other sub-fields.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
Oh my, this is going to be a long list.
1 – I desperately wanted to see more of the dystopian settings of this worlds, instead of reading a take on the Mean Girls. Cassie begins her senior year in a new school, where she immediately does three things:
- joins the popular girls’ table;
- feels too superior to talk to other kids;
- falls in love with a mysterious guy.
Were there no other way to drive the plot forward except the retelling of the Mean Girls with the most cringey scenes of insta-love?
2 – Cassie could be described with one word – angry. She recently lost her father, so it was “normal” for her to feel angry, to be angry at the world. I’m not a psychologist and I never experienced the loss of the closests family members, but I don’t understand why all movies and books make focus so much on the anger. Almost passing the idea that if you’ve lost someone you HAVE to be angry. Yes, people deal with the loss differently, for some that might translate in anger, but I’d like to see some healthy representation of that in YA books.
3 – The whole plot revolved about the joke Cassie made online. Honestly, I didn’t find it funny. However, I didn’t think she deserved to be punished because of it either. What startled me the most was the lack of empathy and regret from Cassie. She made the joke, which was a very bad taste, but she constantly said how she didn’t feel bad about it. THAT was the most scandalous thing, in my opinion.
4 – Overall, the book had many unnecessary gore elements that didn’t contribute to the story. I didn’t flinch while reading the fight scenes or descriptions of injuries, but it felt like a filler to add more pages to the book.