I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Scream Site by Justina Ireland
Published by Capstone Editions on August 1st 2018
Sabrina Sebastian's goal in life is to be an investigative reporter. For her first big story, she researches a popular website called Scream Site, where people post scary videos and compete for the most "screams." While Sabrina's friends and her sister, Faith, talk nonstop about the creepy viral videos, Sabrina just hopes that covering this trend will get her the internship she's wishing for. But as she digs into the truth behind the website, she begins to suspect that these aren't only aspiring actors and videographers at work. Some clips seem a little too real. And when Faith goes missing, Sabrina must race against time to save her sister from becoming the next video "star."
Take two parts Blair Witch Project, and mix it with one part “nobody believes me, I’m just a kid” trope; mix in a rocks glass, salt the rim, and what we have here is Justina Ireland’s Scream Site.
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
Our main star of this little mysterious ditty is Sabrina Sebastian, a high school freshman who wants more than anything in the world to become an investigative journalist. Sabrina lost her father almost a year ago, and is coping with that loss. Combined with her overprotective nurse mom who is always working long hours and an older sister named Faith who plays the traditional role of “older sister” and can’t stand 95% of what Sabrina does, we have a fairly bog standard recipe for impending doom.
Honorable mention goes to Sabrina’s best friend Evelyn, who bucks all gender norms and stereotypes of her Asian upbringing and spends all of her free time when not working at her grandparents’ grocery store dying her hair, eating pizza, and trying to figure out how to get the school’s requisite hottie – Asher – to notice her. Evelyn is a force to be reckoned with, and I appreciated her a lot.
Trouble begins when Sabrina decides to investigate this website that has recently popped up called Scream Site – a popular YouTube clone run by two famous horror film director brothers. Contestants upload homebrewed scary movies and short films – they are then rated, and presumably at some point the directors will take notice of who actually has a modicum of talent, and invite this person to come work with them. In an attempt to get into a prestigious journalism camp, Sabrina is eager to write an expose more intriguing than one questioning the composition of the taco meat at school – but then she hears a spicy rumor: girls are going missing. Girls that were once number one on the Scream Site board. Well, that beats the hell out of the taco meat paper …
It takes off from there, Sabrina desperately trying to unravel the truth as it becomes more and more obvious to her that something is really going wrong here – unfortunately for her, she’s a young kid and nobody really believes her. She races against time to try to put a stop to these kidnappings, and to bring these girls home.
The Bottom Line
I enjoyed this book. To its credit, I had no idea what the hell the answer was until near the end, and when it came out it was 50% “oh, what?!” and 50% “… seriously?” – it felt a bit hamfisted in its wrapping the story up in a neat little bow. If we didn’t find out on the back summary panel that Sabrina’s sister Faith was going to be kidnapped, that might have come as quite a shock to us and made it even more enjoyable! I actually did not read the summary panel, so I didn’t know Faith was going to be taken from her family – that was a jolt I think that I needed, and if I had read the summary I wouldn’t have received said jolt.
Sabrina’s family is diverse and loving, if flawed. I enjoyed seeing a young woman of color as a main character in a book that does not focus solely on race – it’s merely a backdrop, a conversation piece. Overall, Ireland’s ride through Scream Site is an enjoyable one, and if you can suspend disbelief for its near-300 page jaunt, it is one worth taking.