Book review: ‘Top 8’ by Katie Finn

Every now and then, a novel comes along that really challenges our traditional viewpoints and prompts us to evaluate our own lives, perhaps taking action to right the wrongs society has committed or begin to change the world. And then we have to do something. And we have to be more.

Um, Katie Finn’s Top 8 is not that book. What it is, instead, is a light and highly entertaining look at life for high school junior Madison MacDonald, a whip-smart girl with a bevy of close friends and a gorgeous new boyfriend, Jason. Fresh from a vacation in the Galapagos Islands, Madison returns stateside only to discover someone has hacked into her Friendverse (read: Facebook, MySpace) profile and completely changed her profile.

And broken up with her boyfriend. And said terrible things to her “friends,” who promptly unfriend and alienate her. And posted the most unflattering, somewhat incriminating photos of Madison — and others — imaginable.

What follows is Madison working eagerly to get to the bottom of who did this — who disliked her so much that they would purposely set out to destroy her reputation, friendships and relationship. And as a little slice of the times, it all involves plenty of cyber-research, interrogation and the help of unexpected allies. By the end of the book, there’s quite the shake-up among Madison’s top 8 friends . . . and that’s probably a good thing.

I know this is probably going to surprise you as I recently ripped up, poured kerosene and lit Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester’s Hot Mess: Summer In The City on fire, but I actually really, really liked Top 8. Where the former failed in the same genre and time period, Finn’s debut novel was funny, fast-paced and felt like a genuine high school experience with dimensional characters. As a narrator, Madison was intelligent, witty and someone to root for — basically, a cool girl. And though her friends could be a little taxing on the brain (particularly Lisa, whose Francophilia translates into her constantly spewing French sayings), overall? Well, I liked these kids. And got to know them.

The mystery surrounding who hacked Madison’s profile was the story’s anchor, and what propelled me through the plot. With a number of “suspects,” all who appear to have good cause to hurt Madison, I truly didn’t know who did it until the pieces came together toward the end. And by that point? Well, I was all kinds of invested.

And in loooove. Nate, who happened to travel with his family and the MacDonalds on their Galapagos adventure, makes a reappearance partway through the story — and by that point? It was obvious Jason was nothing but a numbskull jock and not worth Madison’s attention. Nate won me over immediately with all his broody hotness, and is my personal archetype for awesome teen love interests in novels.

Madison really won me over — and reminded me of myself at 17. Like our lead, I was a theatre geek — an actress who spent most of her time backstage and with the Thespian Society. I fluctuated between different groups of friends, like Mad, and am also the daughter of a sportswriter. Madison has a little brother of whom she’s inherently suspicious, and I have a little sister of whom I’m inherently suspicious. (Just kidding, Katie! …Heh.) So reading Top 8? Well, it felt a little like reliving my own high school experience.

Minus social media, of course. In the giveaway I offered for this book, I asked entrants how they thought platforms like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., would have impacted their school days. Each entrant responded that it would have made things worse for them, more complicated, etc., and I agree. Reading Top 8 has done nothing but reaffirm how glad I am to have been born in 1985 — and not 1995. It was bad enough when people would write notes about you in class, but whole websites, newsfeeds and tweets dedicated to talking trash about you? Yeah, I’d have an ulcer.

Fans of young adult fiction looking for a quick, light and undeniably fun read need look no further than Top 8. I’m not going to hit the hay tonight with visions of Nietzsche, philosophy and changing the world in my head, but who cares? Sometimes, girls just want to have fun.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0545053625 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publicist

Giveaway Pack: Katie Finn’s TOP 8 and WHAT’S YOUR ST@TUS?

It’s giveaway time once more! Courtesy of Point, I have one set of author Katie Finn’s young adult novels to award one lucky winner from the U.S.

About 2008’s Top 8, which has made its way into my overflowing to-be-read stack:

Madison MacDonald is seriously freaking out.

Madison MacDonald
Putnam, CT
Status: Single?

About Me:
Everything in my life was working out. I had my three best friends, a brand-new boyfriend, and the lead in the school play. Aside from that history paper I hadn’t started, things felt perfect. Then I returned from spring break to find my Friendverse profile hacked. Someone clearly out to ruin me had spilled the most damaging secrets — AND posted the worst photos of me ever taken — online. Now my boyfriend and I are broken up, half the school hates me, and I’m in deep trouble.

Get my boyfriend back, figure out who could have done this, and clear my name!
Also, pass history.

And if that isn’t enough, a copy of its newly-released sequel, What’s Your St@tus?, is also up for grabs in the same pack:

Madison MacDonald thinks things are finally working out!

Followers: 300

Status Updates:

mad_mac Nate and I have been together for two months, and it’s wonderful! Life is good!

mad_mac Well, except for the fact that I still might be failing history.

mad_mac And I no longer have a BFF.

mad_mac But aside from those things!

mad_mac Okay. So, um, apparently I’ve just been put in charge of the school’s priceless heirloom.

mad_mac And the assistant headmaster has a vendetta against me.

mad_mac And it seems I’m being blackmailed.

mad_mac Gathering together a crew. I’m going to try and pull off a heist. Without getting caught. Or expelled. Or arrested.

mad_mac Also, I think I may have just accidentally wrecked my relationship. . . .

Madison MacDonald is trying not to panic.

Even though I’m no longer so concerned about BFFs (or am I?), the series sounds light, fun and entertaining. Lord knows I spend enough time online to relate to the exploits of an avid Facebooker/Twitterer.

Ready to read with me — or know someone who would enjoy the series? Click the form link below (and here), enter the relevant information — and submit! Contest is open to U.S. residents only (sorry!) from Monday, Aug. 16 to Friday, Aug. 20 at 12 p.m. (noon). Comments are closed as they will not be accepted as a form of entry. Winner will be notified by email and posted here on write meg! no later than Aug. 21. Good luck!

Enter contest by submitting form here!

Author Katie Finn lives and writes in Los Angeles. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @katiefinnwrites and visit her online at You can check out chapter 2 of What’s Your St@tus? here, too.