Today, I'm reviewing The Next Big Thing by Sadie Hayes, the second book in her Start Up trilogy.
I loved this book, and I hope that you'll love it as much as I do!
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 26th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin
Format read: Physical ARC via publisher
The stakes are now higher than ever for twins Adam and Amelia, as they work toward getting their start-up Doreye ready for public release.
Readers will undoubtedly be enthused at Hayes's ability to fuse technology, teenaged wealth high drama, and will be begging for the third book as soon as they finish reading.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
As if that weren’t hard enough on their relationship, Adam and Amelia are both keeping secrets from each other, the kinds of secrets that could change everything if revealed. As they grow farther apart, others grow closer together. Patty finds a new boyfriend—and a fascinating new job—to distract her from Chad; Adam becomes involved with an older woman who seems to be as interested in Doreye as he is; and TJ starts to notice that Amelia is more than just a computer nerd with the tensions running high, Adam makes a decision that topples Amelia’s carefully constructed life and sets off a chain of events that could threaten the future of Doreye. Can Amelia find a way to save their company before it’s too late?
So when it came time to read The Next Big Thing, I was absolutely thrilled when St. Martin's Press so readily agreed to send me an ARC!
Things that worked:
In The Next Big Thing, enough time has passed between the events of the first and the second novel, to the point where Amelia and Adam's company Doreye has now gotten closer to a beta-testing phase, and the eventual public release date.
However, as the pressure continues to mount, Adam and Amelia begin growing further apart.
After the events of The Social Code, Adam is now more angry and volatile, lashing out at everyone around him for not showing him the respect that he believes that he deserves. Conversely, Amelia begins turning more reclusive. She's uncertain of the success and notoriety that comes with being the brains of Doreye, and is no long sure who she can trust.
Just like in The Social Code, I thought Sadie Hayes did a fantastic job with two things:
1) Show how wealth, power and talent are three of the key driving forces behind Stanford and Silicon Valley for people like Adam and Amelia, and
2) Showing that in many ways, the challenges faced by the twins, their colleagues and their friends, are actually symbolic of what it's like to grow up and become an adult.
Adam in particular, faces a series of challenges throughout The Next Big Thing. Through trial and error, the impending public release of Doreye forces him to learn to not trust people based solely on appearance, and that (as cliched as it sounds), actions do have consequences.
While Amelia's character arc wasn't necessarily as dramatic as Adam's, she also learns to trust herself as the events of The Next Big Thing play out.. She's able to develop a stronger gut instinct about others, and learns to stand up for herself in a way to ensure that she won't be taken advantage of, regardless of who's initiating the situation - which comes to ahead in the novel.
Readers will definitely not only cheer her on, but also sympathize with some of the tough choices and decisions that she has to make.
* The writing
Hayes has obviously grown as a writer since The Social Code. Her characters are even better developed than before, and her pacing, plotting and world-building are all superb.
I was especially impressed with her ability to intermix the lives of secondary characters with that of Amelia and Adam. Despite the fact that the story frequently jumped back and forth between these characters, Hayes managed to present beautiful, thoughtful backgrounds and stories for each of these secondary characters that not only enhanced the reader's understanding of them, but in some cases, changed the original perception of them.
Without giving any spoilers away, I was touched (and troubled) by what T.J. had to deal with as the rivalry between Adam and Amelia played out. He's forced to confront demons in himself that he never anticipated, but he does so in a way that will undoubtedly make the reader sympathetic and understanding to his transgressions.
* The social relevance
Outside of the brilliant and intermixing stories, I was repeatedly impressed with the relevance of the social, fiscal and intellectual issues discussed in The Next Big Thing.
Even though Hayes wrote The Start Up and The Next Big Thing long before any of the current online privacy concerns came into play, I think that a lot of what the characters discuss - e.g. the ability (and morality) of selling the personal information of users; the risks that people are willing to take in order to be successful in the business world; will be of interest to educators, parents and readers alike.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Without giving any spoilers away, writers/editors: I love all of you, but please do your research. Just because the terminology/concept is used in the movies, doesn't necessarily mean it's true or reflective of real life.
(Albeit with higher stakes, for our main characters.)
I strongly recommend this book for fans of contemporary YA/NA, but also for fans who are looking for realistic fiction with a technological twist.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of The Next Big Thing from St. Martin's Press, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!