Wow, just wow.
To be shelved next to books like Courtney Summers's Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are, and Kim Kane and Marion Roberts's Cry Blue Murder (cover blog here), this book is a unique, breathtaking, terrifying look at small town life in the US. Suicide, bullying, sex, rumours, popularity and teen politics.
This small-town tale follows new girl Carolyn Lessing from her arrival as shiny new toy to her tragic end through a course of bullying, name-calling, one upping, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, eating disorder, homecoming dances and self-harm from the eyes of a nameless student (or group of students) at the school. It is hard-hitting and has the capacity to take away the reader's faith in humanity. After what happens to Carolyn in the car with Shane Duggan, I came to the conclusion that there was not a single good-person in the entire novel. I was right. Even the narrator is cruel to Carolyn (without realising it), the reflect on how what people (Brooke Moore and Gemma Davies) post on Facebook about Carolyn is 'kinda okay' even though they are downright mean: "maybe it was kinda okay to be posting crap on Facebook...but this was different...this was really fucking mean". They post things such as: "CL [Carolyn Lessing] is a skinny Yankee slut”, "If i hear one more person say that they feel sorry for that PATHETIC DRAMA QUEEN, i'm going over to her Pottery Barn house on D'Evereux Drive to cut her myself" (posted shortly after the school found out Carolyn self-harms). Carolyn also receives texts to the same tune: "Leave me alone whore," "Die bitch", "Dirty SKANK". Like Blue Murder, Weightless is a cautionary tale on the dangers of the Internet but, instead of focussing on stalking and murder, it focuses on bullying and teen politics in a similar way to Courtney Summers's novels. This is part of what makes the book so thought-provoking. Like many of my favourite YA novels, this book isn't scared to push boundaries. People say that kids can be cruel. But they are wrong: teenagers can be crueller. The Internet is the realm of the twenty-first century teen and makes bullying in anonymity a whole lot easier. This novel argues that the teens of today have an unrivalled psychological weapon at their fingertips and, when at the mercy of anger or jealousy, can kill with a Facebook post, a text, and email, a YouTube video. Sarah Bannan isn't scared to write about this and that is one of the reasons I enjoyed Weightless: it is an eye opener, a risk, and it's a book that really makes you think.
Okay, this is hard, as we never truly learn the identity of the narrator, or whether it is one person or a group. Also, as I said above: there is not a single good person in this book. They are only three types of people: victim (Carolyn Lessing), bullies (Brooke Moore, Gemma Davies, and Shane Duggan) and bystanders (everyone else, including the narrator/s). The narrator/s is perhaps the worst kind of bystander. They are on the swim team with Carolyn and originally want to be her friend. When she starts getting bullied, they are conscious of it, but take no action. They don't even ask Carolyn if she needs help, don't tell anyone. They see the cuts on her wrists and don't do anything. They see what people say to her, do to her but mainly talk about her and analyse her behind her back. They are low on the social food chain and ruled by teen politics, preferring to text and instant message about events, outfits, people, things said, than take action. They are silent everywhere except on their phones, on their social networks. I'll say it again: not a single good person.
But I did like this book, a lot. I would recommend it to fans of Cry Blue Murder , Courtney Summers's books, or the Pretty Little Liars series. Anyone who isn't scared to read something uncensored and bleak, exposing the cruelty the Internet allows.