Monday, May 6, 2019

Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee

I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

But Wilmont Academy’s been living in the Dark Ages when it comes to sex ed, and someone had to take matters into her own hands. Well, I’m a kickass coder, so I created a totally anonymous, totally untraceable blog where teens can come to get real, honest, nothing-is-off-limits sex advice.

And holy hell, the site went viral overnight. Who knew this school was so hard up.

Except now the school administration is trying to shut me down, and they’ve forced Dean—my coding crush, aka the hottest guy in school—to try to uncover who I am. If he discovers my secret, I’ll lose him forever. And thousands of teens who need real advice won’t have anyone to turn to.

Ask me anything… except how to make things right.

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Entangled Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Trying to be as spoiler-free as possible. Ultra-conservative private school is run by a power-hungry principal, who employs extortion to get what he wants from his students, in order to continue on with his reign.

While the principal made a most excellent villain of the novel, I felt that the majority of the community being stuck in the 1960s era mindset wasn't entirely accurate. Yes, some would be upset about sex education (this wasn't the deep south or the bible belt, I don't believe), so while I'm positive there are those who still hang tight to those ideals, I believe they wouldn't be in the majority. I'll show my age – I grew up in a rural, dinky town with almost a dozen churches and only one stop light, back in the mid-1990s, and we had comprehensive sex-ed in 3rd, 6th, and 8th grade. My point, the principal and one or two parents, sure. The entire town enough to stage protests against an advice blog on the internet in 2019... no way. Not when you'd have to cut-off the town's supply of Wi-Fi and 4G to keep them indoctrinated. I could see if the parents wanted the school board to take down a site created by the school they felt inappropriate – otherwise, shrugs, it's the whole of the internet.

While I loved the purpose of the blog, the message of awareness and a safe and informative place to ask questions without judgement, I felt the pitch forks, torches, and tar were a bit over-the-top. The principal was the perfect amount of drama – the rest was just overkill.

Amber is our innocent heroine, Dean our hero, both top 'hackers' in the school, awaiting admission to MIT. They've been friends for years, but with how Amber dated a db for the entire previous school year, Dean assumed his attraction to Amber was unrequited.

The pair are uber intelligent, tenacious, and dedicated, both wanting to change the world, leaving one of them exposed to extortion. This is where I struggled... independently, Amber and Dean felt as if the male and female versions of each other, outside of a few background stories. Too similar. Perfect. While they had plenty of quick-witted banter, it felt dry to me, as if they were chatting back and forth with himself/herself. If not for prompts in the content, their voices were interchangeable during their points-of-view.

The teenage angst was delicious, where Dean and Amber were competing in their own little game of 'best hacker,' trying to out-do the other. I did find the drama of the villain principal bringing out more angst to pit them against one another yummy. (I just didn't believe there would have been protests. The BFF's mom angry over birth control sounded spot-on, and I felt that would help teens today. MOST of the parents being angry, as I said, that was just a step too far and took the entertainment value and believability down for me.)

Amber was struggling from an event with her ex, which I felt was written with compassion and accuracy. It hurts for me to admit how many of us have been in that situation. Normally I can breeze through flashbacks like that, but this one hit me hard, dragging up my own memories. Raw and real, this was the authenticity of the storyline. It's what kept me engaged, since this was used as a mystery to draw the plot forward, because as we were in Amber's head, she refused to share what happened until she had the flashback near the three-quarter mark. If it hadn't been for that, honestly, I might have tossed in the towel and not finished.

While I enjoyed the book overall, the pacing was on the slow side, many filler scenes, which slowed it down farther and made the book feel longer than its length. The abundance of coding information made our narrators feel like hackers, but it was too instructional, like a textbook, which made me lose interest as it went directly over my head. Amber's past event kept me engaged, then I felt I might as well finish the book off after I found out what had happened. I ate up the angst between Dean and Amber thanks to our villain. I felt the issues explored in Ask Me Anything were written with compassion and devoid of judgment, which will possibly help teen readers as they read the novel.

I do recommend Ask Me Anything, flaws and all.

Young Adult age-range: 14+ due to adult language and sexual content. The message of the novel is age-appropriate and I believe comforting and enlightening for readers; however, it depends on the maturity of the reader, not necessarily their age.

Molly E. Lee is an author best known for her debut novel Edge of Chaos, and as a mentor at Pitch Wars – a program which connects promising writers to established authors in the community. Molly writes New Adult and Young Adult contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English Bulldog, Molly loves watching storms from her back porch at her Midwest home, and digging for treasures in antique stores.

Connect with Molly

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee to read and review.

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