Happy MMGM, guys!
This week, we're reviewing Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone! She's a longtime favorite of the blog, so we were very excited to see her foray into middle grade fiction.
MMGM is a feature hosted by (fabulous) author Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Expected publication: September 7th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion (first published September 5th 2017)
Format read: ARC via publisher
Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone's making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone's secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK'D to the judges?
New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone combines friendship, coding, and lots of popcorn in her fun and empowering middle-grade debut.
Stone introduces us to Allie Navarro, who invents an app that is designed to connect friends and bring her fellow students closer together. But with success comes the usual challenges, as Allie struggles with both newfound fame and a product that isn’t perfect, especially on the eve of a tech competition…
Before becoming a well-regarded author, Stone used to work in Silicon Valley, and it’s evident in how she conveys Allie’s story. Rather than treat technology and coding camp as a new and interesting hobby, particularly for girls – something I have unfortunately seen in fiction, before - it’s something Allie is good at and respected for, by all of her friends. Coding camp not only allows Allie to create a unique product, it also lets her come back with different friends from all over the world, that shares her same goals. It’s basically globalism and friendship via tech, a theme that’s reinforced for the rest of the novel.
But as Allie’s app gains in popularity in grows, Stone is also careful to show the downside of a product that has grown too much, too quickly. There’s a definite struggle between Allie wanting to feel popular because of her app, and wanting the app to work well. It’s a subtle and smart commentary on how something can take charge and go viral quickly in our internet driven age, and Stone asks brilliant questions weighing both Allie’s desire to be noticed – something that anyone who has ever gained a modicum of internet attention can understand – and actually taking the time for careful, intelligent rollout.
Stone also asks thoughtful questions on the nature of digital and physical friendship. Several of the characters struggle with feeling connected both in real life and via Allie’s app, and it’s a clever commentary on how our individual understanding of friendship can grow and develop, based on the advent of certain technology products today. I wouldn’t be surprised if young readers who read the book have many of the same feelings that Allie and her friends do, and their journeys can reflect the evolution of that thought process, nicely.
While Stone details the ebbs and flows of Allie’s app brilliantly, including hitting the heights of popularity and trouble shooting when things don’t work, it’s the third act that resonates particularly strongly, with those who have followed along the journey.
Spoilers ahead –
Though Stone builds up Allie’s presence in a tech competition for most of the book, at the eleventh hour, Allie decides to pull out of the competition, due to problems with the app.
But the very act of doing so, coupled with her refusal to just give up, is a stronger takeaway than any alternative. Because it is a reminder that anything worth doing can be challenging and hard, and sometimes, one doesn’t succeed. But that doesn’t mean one doesn’t keep trying – especially with the help of some friends. Allie’s journey is rich and rewarding, and will inspire many a young mind.
We need more of these books in fiction, so I highly recommend this, full stop.
About the author:
Tamara Ireland Stone (www.TamaraIrelandStone.com) is the author of Time and Time Again, a collection of her two novels Time Between Us and Time After Time, and the New York Times best seller Every Last Word. A Silicon Valley-native, she has worked in the technology industry all her life, first testing Atari game boards in her parents’ garage, and later, co-founding a woman-owned marketing strategy firm where she worked with some of the world's largest software companies. She enjoys skiing, hiking,and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.