I’m not sure how to talk about ‘Watched’ without giving too much away. It’s really a thriller, one I couldn’t put down until I finished it, which didn’t even take one day because that’s how engrossed I was in it. I did help that it was also travel day full of stupid waiting and sitting on a plane.
As to the story, I’m not sure if this even still qualifies as YA or New Adult. The protagonists are Miranda, 14, soon to be 15 and Jesse who’s age I forgot. He is a little bit older than her but that’s all I got.
What brings them together is a story that feels too real in this day and age of cyber stalking, bullying, anonymity and a constant tethering to the World Wide Web. The author mentioned this story came about when she clicked on Amanda Todd’s suicide video and yes, that fits. I remember watching it back in the day and feeling gutted. This story is an extension, a fictionalisation of what happened to her with a happier ending because obviously. It’s still flooring and gutting.
It raises valid subjects like stalking, sexual abuse and child molestation. It’s not nice to read about all this but it feels important. It makes me scared of the internet, a place that has been my safety from reality for years now and I don’t like the feeling of this place being able to turn against me or anyone else, let alone teenagers.
I absolutely loved this book but not in a squee-y good way but in one that doesn’t leave you once you put it down. It takes a while until you really understand what is going on, some specifics are never plain out mentioned but you understand through the hints, what is going on.
The story also shows the different ends of the parent spectrum. Miranda had to open up to her parents about what was happening to her since it affected their lives as well. Jesse meanwhile tried to keep it all to himself, safe them from the heartbreak. In the end he couldn’t do it but Miranda’s parents couldn’t keep her daughter out of harms way for a while either. But they supported her and ultimately, I believe the story was resolved because she let them in.
With shows like Pretty Little Liars which, in a way, romanticise the whole being cyber stalked 24/7 it’s important to see the other side. It’s not just about Nancy Drewing away on your own, never letting anyone in, it’s about going through the proper channels, at least in the end. Both Jesse and Miranda garnered strength from finding each other, sharing their terror but they didn’t bring the Creep down by themselves. They had professional help.
I have one small critique, and that is the ending. It feels a little bit rushed and I would have liked to read a little bit more on how it worked out in the end. Instead of the epilogue we got, I would have liked to see a flash forward to a couple of weeks, maybe even years, into the future to see how the events ultimately affected their futures. But that’s a small point on an otherwise amazing book.