Saturday, 28 September 2019

Fugly by Claire Waller – review

Content warning: bullying, self harm, sexual assault, attempted suicide

A wrenchingly honest, thought-provoking exploration of a girl judged and dismissed by society who must break the cycle of shaming that traps her in her real life and comforts her in her online one.

In real life, eighteen-year-old Beth is overweight, shy, and geeky. She’s been bullied all her life, and her only refuge is food. Online, though, she’s a vicious troll who targets the beautiful, vain, oversharing It Girls of the internet. When she meets Tori, a fellow troll, she becomes her online girlfriend-slash-partner-in-crime.
But then Tori picks a target who’s a little too close to home for Beth. Unsettled, Beth decides to quit their online bullying partnership. The only problem is, Tori is not willing to let her go.

Fugly is like nothing I've read before. It's a dark and unflinching look at a viewpoint I've never given much thought: the internet troll. Being inside Beth's head means that this definitely isn't an easy read, but it's a unique and engrossing one.

Claire Waller develops Beth's character with such skill that it left me in a moral dilemma! Beth does, says and thinks some terrible, unforgivable things but also has redeemable qualities. It was also very clear why she did those things. Beth goes on such an interesting journey through the book and it was mainly character development that kept me gripped throughout.

I loved how complicated and well-drawn all of the characters in the book are. I could really picture even the most minor characters.

Another thing that stayed with me after reading this book is how vulnerable sharing things online can make us and the impact that online words can have on others. I knew all of these things (and would certainly never troll anyone) but I've never read a book that made me think so much about them.

This book tackles a lot of difficult subject matters, and as it's from Beth's perspective these aren't always communicated in a positive way. However, if you can stomach the tough subject matter, this is a brilliantly written and thought-provoking read.


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