When security cameras are installed at Oscar’s school, they seem the ideal tool to trap the bullies who are intimidating Sam’s younger brother.
Oscar is persuaded to use his hacking skills to access the camera feed and confront the bullies with evidence of their behaviour. Tension grows rapidly as the temptation to use this power for less principled reasons leads Oscar to a point where the tables are turned and he must confront the results of his actions.
The power of surveillance and whether it encourages conformity is the theme of this thought-provoking novel. A member of our school book group commented that she saw Ritchie’s creation of the fictional social media platform uPulse, with its parallels to Facebook and Twitter, and the issues that Oscar and his classmates faced in this setting, made this book very relevant to today’s teenagers.
L. J. Ritchie’s first novel, set in Wellington, is an engrossing read. Whilst the cover may not instantly appeal, it aptly reflects the closed life of surveillance. It is worth encouraging students, particularly those looking for a short novel, to pick this up. It is easy to read with short sentences, building excitement and ample ideas for discussion.
Title: Like Nobody’s Watching
Author: L. J. Ritchie
Publisher: Escalator Press
Date of publication: 2016
Reviewer: Alison Holloway
School: Morrinsville College