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on March 06, 2013 :
Growing Up Wired is a very interesting modern take on the typical coming of age story, and I have to say I think it was very well done. Overall, I give this 4 out of 5 stars, I did have to take a star off because of the lack of character development in the supporting characters.
I received a digital copy of this book from the author, after listening to a few of the short stories from his audiobook Not From Concentrate (I've reviewed the first 6 of 12 stories, this is the link) and wanting to read more by him. I was not let down, as this story was catchy, interesting, and eye-opening. David does a great job integrating 21st century technology into a 'boy meets world' kind of plot. Victor Hastings spends more time on his computer browsing virtual women than he does meeting real women through his fraternity. This comes to a head when he's forced to deal with real people, face to face. Can he handle social life, or is he destined to fail and remain plugged in to the world?
I think David created some likable (or at least personable) characters in Victor and The Snitz, but I feel like most of the other minor and supporting characters fell, well, flat. I could hardly tell his two romantic interests apart, let alone try to remember all the members of his fraternity. Was one of them black? Did he get in a fight with one of the fraternity's pledges? There were a few too many character names thrown in, but not enough character development. I think there should have been fewer characters, or more plot involving these stories. Which I would have liked to see, as I did enjoy this novel and was sad to see it end.
In an interesting twist, I read this on my commute into New York, and on my way back home, I listened to part of "Digital Girlfriend", another of the stories in David's Not from Concentrate. I can tell where he got the idea for Em from! Her little backstory is identical to "Digital Girlfriend", and I have to say I kind of like that. It would have been a little more fun had I listened to this story before reading Growing Up Wired, but that can't be helped. I like that there's more to Em/Karen's story, it makes her a little more like a real person and not a two dimensional character.
I really did enjoy this book, character development aside. It's interesting to see this kind of world where everyone is slowly losing social skills to the internet, IM chats, and text messages. And it's terrifying to realize that that is what's really happening to the world. Even now, I note the irony that I'm talking about books on the Internet, while I have another tab open to my facebook page and I'm chatting with a friend of mine. What happened to live social interaction? Everyone is so quick to friend people on Facebook, but nobody really bothers keeping these friendships strong in real life. It's just one funny post/link after another. That's not what I want my future to be. And I hate when people assume that just because I'm in my early 20's that I wouldn't be able to survive without technology. I handled not having power after Hurricane Irene, and I don't go into withdrawal when I leave my phone at home. Sadly, I can't say the same about many of my friends...
(review of free book)