Friday, 19 February 2016

Book Review - Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

Amazon UK
Title: Viral
Author: Helen Fitzgerald
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 28th January 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn't want to be found?

I only become aware of Viral, after reading a review on Random Things Through My Letterbox, and knew instantly it would be a book that I wanted and needed to read as soon as possible. I was unaware until that point that there was controversy about the opening line of the book, and intrigued as to what had got people so riled up. 

So I've of course now read the first line, and yes its quite shocking, but its very relevant to what occurs, and to the whole base of the story. 

Su Oliphant-Brotheridge is a quiet, studious girl, and against her better judgment is persuaded to go on holiday with her sister Leah, and her friends, to Magaluf. While out there on the last night, a video is made of something that occurred in a night club, that is incredibly out of character for Su. 

A few hours later that video is on YouTube and has gone Viral. Su has gone into hiding, and Leah returned home to Scotland, without her. Their mother Ruth, is a judge, and is determined to find Su, and to bring about justice for her. 

The story is told both from Su's point of view, but also Ruths. With Su, we get the background to her relationship with Leah, what had been happening on the holiday, and what she was doing now. Ruth's view was one of gaining vengeance for Su, as well as berating Leah for not coming home with Su. 

As the story progressed I couldn't help but feel sorry for Su, as her life has been completely altered beyond recognition just from this video. 

What the girls get up to in Magaluf, it must be said, is a very accurate I believe representation of what really goes on there. I worked in Mallorca for two seasons, and was probably the only person amongst my colleagues that didn't have a night out in Magaluf, and having now read Viral, I definitely don't feel that I missed out on anything. 

I've come away from Viral with the knowledge that any video you make you could viral on youtube, and that its possible to be an online "star" without even knowing you were being recorded. Since we are now in the age of fast technology, its possible anything you do on a "messy" night out, could be uploaded for everyone and anyone to see. And that once a video has started to be seen and shared, it is very hard to get it taken down. 

Viral has definitely made me think I will be a even more cautious on nights out, and the whole story is something that I can truly see will happen at some point, if it hasn't already. I kept reading on just to find out how the characters were going to react to the situation next. 

Thank you so much to Faber and Faber and Netgalley for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

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