Retro by Sofía Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman

Retro by Sofía Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. 9781665902755

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Thriller

What did you like about the book? A thriller set in the near-future where technology uses surveillance to monetize social media – wait, that sounds like the present! Luna is a Spanish American high schooler who uses social media to retaliate on a friend who caused her to take the fall for a shoplifting incident. She immediately regrets the post, but it goes viral and her humiliated friend tries to commit suicide. The social media company, Limbo, decides to redeem their involvement in the incident by choosing Luna’s high school for a “Retro Challenge” – any student who can go a year without using technology created after the year 2000 will be granted a scholarship to the college of their choice. This is a compelling offer for Luna, as her father is dead and her mother is the sole wage earner and has immigration issues as well. So, Luna and her cadre of friends Mimi, Darnell and Kilo try to meet the challenge.

The combination of kids going “retro,” with older fashions, music, etc., and the growing realization that Limbo has something nefarious going on that involves advanced technology, is a fun idea that will appeal to high school readers. There are drag races, dances, music, analog cameras and thrifting along with drinking and, eventually, some romance and sex. Friendships are made and social groups rearranged. Will they make it to cash in on the scholarships? Why are contestants disappearing? Luna narrates the story as a flashback, which ups the tension. Characters are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, income and sexuality. The book includes a QR code linking to a retro playlist, and each chapter’s title is a song on the list, which I enjoyed

Anything you didn’t like about it? It was hard to believe that a high schooler’s social media post would immediately result in thousands of views that quickly, but I guess the hyperbole is what makes for the thrills. Also, I would have liked more character development for Luna’s friends.

To whom would you recommend this book? For readers ages 15+ who enjoy fast paced technology based thrillers, and who can get into a bit of romance.

Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: January 13, 2023

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