Viral By Helen Fitzpatrick
Published: 11 Aug 2016 by Faber Faber
Summary: So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety-six people have seen me online.
Su has always been the successful sister. It’s Leah who is wild and often angry. But when they go to Magaluf to celebrate their exam results, Su disappears.
Su is on the run, humiliated and afraid. There’s an online video of her performing multiple sex acts in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.
Their mother Ruth, a prominent court judge, is furious. Can she bring justice to the men who took advantage of her daughter, and what will it take to bring Su home?
‘Read it.’ Stylist
‘Gripping.’ Tammy Cohen, author of When She Was Bad
‘A real psychological roller-coaster.’ Scotsman
TW: Sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, attempted rape
OK. From the trigger warning alone, you probably might have guessed what this book is about. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for days. Days. I kept thinking and thinking and thinking and I just — I can’t find the words to explain how I really feel about it.
I’ve never read a Helen Fitzpatrick before. I came across this book randomly at a library and the first line got to me. I can’t share it here because it’s of very sexual nature but it gripped me. I’ve never read a book that’s so straightforward before. And just like its opening line, the book is pretty straightforward — it doesn’t hide away any of the gory bits, doesn’t shun away from the reality of what society could be like, the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, the real problem about recording and uploading videos — the idea of consent. This book really dives into the problems that our current society and youths of today are facing. Its raw, its real, its scary. It makes you keep reading in fear. You keep reading because its one of those books you just NEED to know the ending to.
This doesn’t mean the book doesn’t have flaws. I had a problem with the main character Su and I had a problem with her mother. Su isn’t a perfect main character. I don’t think Fitzpatrick intended for her to be. She’s a broken character, disguised behind a forced perfection. She doesn’t belong, she’s desperate. But — I couldn’t understand what came after. I couldn’t understand her sudden desperation to lose her virginity, I couldn’t understand her frame of mind that would make her consider that a top priority when she’s supposedly trying to run away from the problem: the sexual video. Maybe it’s just one of those things I don’t understand, but that’s okay. Su’s mother on the other hand, though I get that she’s reacting out of anger, there’s a lot about the chapters from her point of view that left me wondering. I didn’t quite understand if portions of it were flashbacks, or if she really went out of her way to dress up as someone else to seduce a man. Her chapters were kind of messy, it was hard to keep track of what she was doing. Is this Fitzpatrick’s intention? She’s a woman who is ruffled to the core, equally desperate, if not more, and trying to save her daughter. Is this why she’s messy? Or has this suddenly gone way too deep?
Truth is, Viral has been on my mind for weeks after I finished it. I couldn’t properly write a review because I just didn’t know how I felt. I wanted more, the ending, I wanted a proper revenge. I just felt that after all the trouble they went through, the closure they decided on was too little, too small. It didn’t end with a big impact as much as I had hoped and it was a little bit of a let down. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Viral. I flew through it really quickly and its one of those books that’s really hard to put down. If you’re looking for a kind of quick thriller, try picking up Viral.