Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: THE SOCIAL CODE by Sadie Hayes

Title: THE SOCIAL CODE by Sadie Hayes

Author's: Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads

ARC received courtesy of St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. 

Pub Date: September 3, 2013

Dannie says: I need a little more decoding before I can decide. 

In a world where anyone can rise to the top, the only rule is... watch your back.
Eighteen-year-old twins Adam and Amelia Dory learned the hard way to rely only on each other, growing up in a small town where they understood the meaning of coming from nothing. But everything changes when both are offered scholarships to Stanford University – and catapulted into the dazzling world of Silicon Valley, where anyone with a good enough idea can skyrocket to fame and fortune in the blink of an eye…

Amelia is almost as pretty as she is smart – almost. A shy girl and genius, she is happiest alone in the computer lab, but her brother has other plans for her talents: A new company that will be the next Silicon Valley hit, and will thrust Amelia into the spotlight whether she likes it or not. Where Amelia’s the brains, Adam’s the ambition – he sees the privileged lifestyle of the Silicon Valley kids and wants a piece of what they have. He especially wants a piece of Lisa Bristol, the stunning daughter of one of the Valley’s biggest tycoons.

As Adam and Amelia begin to hatch their new company, they find themselves going from nothing to the verge of everything seemingly overnight. But no amount of prestige can prepare them for the envy, backstabbing and cool calculation of their new powerful peers.

Welcome to Silicon Valley, where fortune, success – and betrayal – are only a breath away…


The main plot. The story here is much stronger than most new adult titles I've read and the first I think may appeal to male readers--but at times i felt the plot strength occurred at the expense of the emotional elements I love about NA. Also, I felt like the author didn't see the plot arc all the way through and that there were too many subplots thoroughly investigated in one book. So for these reasons plot was a like and not a love. 

The author did a good job of balancing the coming-of-age issues that make New Adult its own category with telling a story that wasn't fluffy romance. This was unique for me as a NA reader/writer and I found it really refreshing. 


Awesome knowledge base. I'm married to a indie game designer so I know a little about (read: have to hear A LOT about) coding and programming. The author's authenticity in that respect was spot on for me, and this is one of the reasons I was really engaged in this story. 

TECH-GIRLS! The tech stuff was something I haven't seen before in New Adult and not a lot in YA, particularly with a female lead. I think we need more books for teen girls that spark interest in science and technology. In a category when so many girl books are focused on finding the right guy, falling in love, and experiencing emotional firsts, this sort of career-focused plot was, for me, a refreshing concept.

Great setting details. The visual imagery of the settings was spot on. I could definitely picture the places where the story was unfolding. This for me is a real strength, one because I think a lot of readers will be unfamiliar with this type of venue but also because it's something that doesn't get a lot of attention in New Adult--unless the setting is the love interest's bedroom.


More consistent narrative. I'm not a fan of fully omniscient narrative in general, but for me the narrative was head-hoppy, to the point where I didn't know whose perspective I was reading sometimes. As a reader who is drawn into a book first and foremost via the characters, this made it really hard for me to connect with the story emotionally. For me this disconnect was compounded by voice that felt inconsistent and a little blah.

On a related note, I didn't buy into Amelia's resistance to Roger and making money off her code invention. It felt forced for me. I think POV is to blame for this because the concept itself is believable. I think if I had been in her head more there would be no disbelief to suspend. None of the characters really resonated with me. It was hard for me to form a connection, with so many subplots happening at once, and most leads having such unredeemable flaws. There were so many leaps in POV and so many gaps in the emotional arcs there were a few times when I was like,

Better executed small details. I think the biggest factor in lending authenticity and relatability to a story is paying attention to small details. I felt a few times while reading that the author had missed the mark, and this pulled me out of the story. One example of this was the rich socialite daughter who was putting together her own dorm furniture from IKEA. Another was T.J. offering up his dad's car for Shandi's wedding--which was taking place in Hawaii. And although most of the characters are college students, there didn't seem to be a lot of college stuff going on for some of them. I don't know how Amelia ever went to class if she was spending 20 straight hours in the computer lab coding. And I didn't understand how TJ is the twins' boss if they own the company. The foster care thing felt melodramatic for me. First Amelia's statement that her parents does before she met them is physiologically impossible, at least in the case of her mother. Beyond that, in every state I've ever worked tuition compensation if afforded to every child who ages out of the foster care system,and beyond that a wealth of financial aid grant options that would be applied before Stanford even needed to offer the twins a scholarship. I felt in regard to this particular story element that the author didn't do her research. 
A stronger, more solid ending. This really feels like a situation where the author had decided to write a series and didn't commit to giving this book a solid ending as a result. And really, the only people who have ever gotten away with that with me are Suzanne Collins in Catching Fire and Beth Revis in A Million Suns. 

But just barely. 

Short story long, I liked this one, but I didn't love it. I will probably read the sequel, though, because I'm invested in the tale. If you like really plot-driven books, this may be a good one for you. This may be a one of those situations where you want to wait until the full series is out before buying, unless you don't mind a cliffhanger.  

Me no likely the cliffhanger. 

Check it out on Goodreads and the purchasing venues below and let me know what you think!

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