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Facebook at the heart of horror mystery 'Defriended'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In "Defriended," author Ruth Baron does a fairly good job at displaying pitch-perfect knowledge of teen pop culture and accurately represents teenage dependency on cellular devices, the Internet and, in this case, Facebook.

The main character in "Defriended" is Jason Moreland, a high school junior who lives in a town called Oakdale. He usually keeps to himself, as a type of loner or hipster. Despite his social status, he is best friends with one of the most popular boys in school, Rakesh Adams.

Since nothing out of the ordinary ever happens in Jason's life, he spends his nights listening to music and surfing the Web. While on Facebook one day, he meets a girl named Lacey Gray, who, surprisingly, he can talk to with ease because they share the same interests.

Jason quickly falls head-over-heels for Lacey, even though he's never actually met her in real life. Oddly, whenever Jason questions Lacey about meeting her, she either changes the subject or says, "Things are sort of...complicated right now."

Suspicious, Jason decides to do some cyber-stalking to see if he can find out anything about Lacey. What he finds takes his breath away: her obituary. To make things even worse, the obituary is dated October -- three and a half months before he first messaged her.

After he discovers this, endless questions begin to fill his head: Is Lacey really dead? Is he really talking to her dead spirit? How did she die? Is someone playing a cruel trick on him?

In his attempt to discover the truth about Lacey's death, Jason subsequently becomes close with her former best friend, Jenna Merrick. He is starting to enjoy talking to her...until he finds out something that changes everything.

"Defriended" is jam packed with twists and turns that help make it nearly impossible to put down. I enjoyed the mystery/suspense/horror theme of it. It constantly left me wondering what was going to happen next, and even if I was able to predict what was going to happen, I still wanted to read further to see if I was correct.

The larger theme of "Defriended" is Internet safety. As Jason learned the hard way, not everyone you talk to on the Internet is who they say they are. When talking to anyone, you need to be cautious! In just a short amount of time, Jason's life went from boring to very chaotic. But, if you want to know how chaotic it is, the challenges Jason is faced with and all of the new people he meets, you'll have to read the book!


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