Reading Antisocial is like watching a soap opera. And while this book is an incredibly addicting read—a huge pro, there’s a bunch of cons as well.
First of all, this book has some terrible dialogue. I’m aware that realistic dialogue can be difficult to write, but the first 20-odd pages were very much cringe to me. Though, I could overlook the terrible dialogue when the plot started heating up. The narration on the other hand, tells too much and shows too little. I understand that it’s First POV, but it’ll be nice to have an emotion shown more than stated. Furthermore, while I love how entrenched the social media terms, modern slang and all are, it can be excessive at times and because of this excess, the story strongly felt like it’s removed from reality. I can see Antisocial happening in real life but I don’t believe it can. In other words, I’m sitting here, watching this soap opera on TV but what separates my reality from that soap opera’s realty is the presence of the TV that needs to be turned on for the soap opera to exist. There’s a barrier between fictional and believable in Antisocial, and when this barrier is overcome, I believe that it’ll be a way better read.
Besides that, Antisocial, unfortunately has a lot of incredibly flat characters. No matter which way I turn them, they’re just two-dimensional. Despite my being able to relate to Anna for certain parts and my liking her decision to show her true self to her friends, she’s still a basic YA main character whose social anxiety disorder feels more like a convenient plot device instead of something that makes her more human. There’s more than just seeing a therapist, taking medication and the occasional panic attacks. There’s a human being and this human being has emotions which I firmly believe should be shown more in the book. The same goes to the rest of the characters too, because what’s the point of having so many if less than a three are going to be well developed? What’s the point of having so many characters if their ‘depth’ is simply used as a shock factor or some plot device?
Some of the events in this book are too coincidental as well, particularly the moments when Jethro conveniently shows up whenever Anna has/is on the verge of a panic attack. Like, does he have a tracker on her or something? Moreover, despite Jethro and Anna being friends for years and his crushing on her for years too, their romance still feels like insta-love. I get Jethro’s side of the romance, but Anna’s side just feels superficial.
Also, that twist? I saw it coming from miles away. It’s too obvious when two guys in a clique are aiming to go to MIT together (anyone else getting Tony Stark vibes by the MIT and genius/hacker thing?). As for the ending, my cynical side think it’s a little too happy—a little too far-fetched, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad either.
Antisocial is a cautionary tale, focusing on the possible effects of (in a warped way) bullying, today’s cyber age and the invasion of privacy. There’s always more than what meets the eye, and the internet is not wholly good. Overall, this is a novel isn’t as solid as I hoped for it to be since it has a intriguing premise, but it’s a good debut novel.