Review: Exposed by Susan Vaught

Review: Exposed by Susan Vaught


Chan Shealy’s got most things going right in her life—straight A’s, a shot at the regional majorette championships in baton twirling, and the best best friend a girl could wish for. But after the football quarterback spreads a vicious lie about her, and the whole school decides she’s too trashy for words, Chan begins to wonder if the only place she’ll find love is online.

She’s careful. She follows all her parents’ rules, mostly anyway. A girl’s got to trust herself at a certain point, right? But what if your gut is telling you something that you’re just not hearing… until it’s too late?

From the moment Chan logs on and meets Paul, until the truth begins to show through, Susan Vaught sends readers on a fast-paced and gripping ride. Even when you know something bad will happen, you still might not see it coming…

I’m always fascinated by books about online relationships. I’ve met a lot of people online, right from when I started using chat rooms when I was seventeen until today – I met my boyfriend in a regional chat room in 2007 and moved across the world to live with him in a foreign country (and am still here six years later), so it’s a subject that I’ve personally experienced.

Chandra is sixteen, obsessed with Emily Dickinson, passionate about baton twirling and has had a terrible year physically and emotionally. And whilst her best friend is a serial dater, Chan is looking for something safer – an online relationship with someone that can’t physically hurt her like her ex-boyfriend did. Sadly, this is my first problem with Chan – she’s so focused on finding a guy to make her happy I started to get frustrated. And I never really stopped.

Chan isn’t exactly unlikeable – she’s a great friend to her best friend Devin, she’s had a hard time at school and still faces down her ex-boyfriends nasty new girlfriend on a regular basis, and is incredibly supportive of her younger sister who is dealing with all kinds of issues. However, Vaught tries to cover a lot of subjects in Exposed, and it means that Chan, as the main character, comes across as pretty flighty at times.

Firstly is the online boyfriend thing, which I kinda get. But then there’s the obsession with her weight, her worries about her father, her relationship with her coach that goes from icily distant to best pals in the space of a few chapters, dealing with her overbearing mother, stressing about school and regionals and ex-boyfriends and ex-boyfriends’ girlfriends, her best friends’ dating habits, her major English project and her own health. And of course when she meets someone online it’s just another subject to cover in what is a pretty short book to have so much going on.

I read Exposed in just two sittings, but I found myself skimming parts to get to what I wanted to read about – Chan’s online relationship. And although I get that Chan is pretty vulnerable, she makes some stupid, amateur mistakes in a very short space of time, even taking into account her vulnerability, that just didn’t ring true at all.

Overall, Exposed is a great idea and still a very relevant subject, particularly as Chan’s parents are pretty vigilant and aware, it’s scary what can happen to a susceptible teenager in a short space of time. However, the multiple sub-plot lines left me quite frustrated, and the ending was too fast and didn’t feel completely realistic to me.

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