Written by experienced YA novelists Laura Moser and Lauren Mechling, My Darklyng takes on the teen love affair with, well, love — as well as friendship, family relations, burgeoning careers, sex, sports, and vampire novels.
With a cliffhanger every installment (the installments went up in sets of three chapters), the novel is fast-paced and involving. I will be the first to admit that I was addicted. The experience was also broader than simply reading a novel online.
First, Moser and Mechling created a Facebook page for their heroine, Natalie, who is “played” by a 16 year old named Hannah Grosman. If you kept up with the Facebook page, you got another dimension to the story. (Apparently at least one reader solved the central mystery of the story because it unfolded on Facebook.) The New York Times has a fascinating look at the Facebook portion of the novel.
Then, Slate always has reader commentary, so you could read the installment and talk about it right away with other readers. The reader community also added an extra dimension to the novel.
Now, maybe not a lot of teens read the novel, if only because Slate is a cultural and political magazine. But Hannah Grosman linked her Facebook page to the Natalie page, adding still another layer of meta-fiction over the whole thing, so likely she brought in her friends and friends of friends as fans. I would recommend it to teen readers as well, because it’s not what adults should say about it, it’s how teens enjoy the experience that is important.
I thought it was an interesting experience. I was fascinated by the way facebook was used as an integral part of the narrative. The plot was the kind of plot kids like — fast, faster, and still faster, with all the things that absorb them in their world: Friends, family, growing up, getting a first job, doing what you love, being good at it, navigating relationships.
If you write YA, this is another good one to read.