Apparently, I live in a cave.
A few months ago there was all sorts of buzz about a book that incorporated a new marketing paradigm. It was big news in the book world. Many bloggers of teen books and writers and authors wrote about this new book. There was alarm! There was disgust! There was nausea!
And I never noticed.
So, when the publishers wrote and asked if I’d like a copy of the book to review, I said, “Sure.” And when I received it, I put it aside and kind of forgot about it. But then I saw a mention, just a tiny mention, on a blogfriend’s site. I can’t even remember where. And I thought, “Oh, I have that book,” and started reading it.
As it turns out, it’s pretty darn entertaining.
Cathy’s Book: If Found Call 650-266-8233 includes business cards, photos, a menu, and a napkin, among many other things in a pocket on the inside cover of the book. The book itself has websites to visit, numbers to call, codes to break. It bills itself as an interactive experience, and I agree. I’m not a huge puzzle-solver kind of gal, but I found the whole thing pretty intriguing. I liked leafing through the paper crap, and I tried a number and web search or two. It was fun. The format of the book is interesting too, with sketches on every page and sometimes excerpts from instant messaging. The story kept me moving along, wondering what would happen next.
Cathy’s been dumped by her older boyfriend and wonders what went wrong. But wondering isn’t enough, especially when she has an unexplained needle mark on her arm. With the help of her best friend Emma and a variety of self-done disguises, Cathy investigates her ex-boyfriend. She goes into his house, rifles through some papers, and finds more mysteries to solve. Soon she’s in over her head with no way back. The characters are seriously flawed. Victor drugs Cathy to take blood. Cathy breaks into his house. Cathy’s mom drinks gin like coffee. Thinking about it, why would Cathy want Victor back? Why would Victor continue to have feelings for Cathy if she’s a stalker? But I suspect that is the adult in me talking, and this book is very clearly for teens.
Halfway through the book, I wondered who in the kidlitosphere had reviewed it. Searching Technorati, I found what appeared to be lots of teens’ blogs raving about the book, but no one else. Okay, one brief review from The Goddess of YA Literature, but that was all. It was as I went further back that I realized the whole marketing controversy.
Is there a vow of reviewing silence that I was supposed to take as a stand against marketing tie-ins? Did I miss a meeting?
I guess in this world of cross-promotion, product placement in movies, and viral marketing, it’s going to take more than one changed line in a book to get me riled up. I mean, I believed LonelyGirl15 was real until I was forced to accept the truth, and now she has ads after the videos. If I hadn’t searched for information about this book, I would have never known about the marketing tie-in. It’s certainly a less obvious product placement than other books. But, presumably, those books didn’t make money on the promotion of the product. But, supposedly, neither did Cathy’s Book. But it did get cross promotion on Cover Girl’s website. But Target is connected with J. Otto Seibold and promoted The Fuchsia Is Now! and no one has raised a fuss. I’m sorry, what was the issue again?
Oh, maybe it was that girls are going to flock to Cathy’s Book whether it’s linked to Cover Girl or Clinique, or even coveralls because it’s a fun book. Not a great book, but a fun book.