Social Misconduct by S.J. Maher
Published by Simon & Schuster on April 23, 2019
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Buy: Amazon, B&N
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Her perfect job becomes the perfect nightmare when a stalker hacks her phone.
Candace Walker is thrilled when she lands a new job at a hip Manhattan tech company and gets a brand-new iPhone. She’s more than ready to move on from creating clickbait ads for weight-loss pills and herbal erection boosters, and is determined to dazzle the startup team she joins.
A week later, though, everything is at risk: Candace is the target of a mysterious harasser and an online smear campaign. She tosses her new phone into the Hudson River, begins hiding out in her sister’s storage locker in New Jersey, and can’t think of a single person she can trust. But Candace hasn’t come this far—and gone to such lengths—to submit to what is happening without a fight.
Social Misconduct by S.J. Maher is a paranoia-inducing read that will make you want to delete your social media accounts—or at least immediately change all your passwords. In this creepy thriller, a young woman finds herself the target of online sexual harassment. But when your whole life is online, what do you do when someone threatens to take it over?
Candace works for tech company SoSol as a lowly ad writer of clickbait. After she receives a coveted promotion, she’s pitted against a coworker and the future of her job depends on the success of her new account. When a mysterious stranger texts her and offers her insider information, Candace can’t resist taking it. But what she doesn’t expect is the huge consequence of accepting this stranger’s help: her nude photo has been posted online without her consent.
Soon, Candace finds her mentions and DMs deluged with harassing messages from men’s rights activists, incels, and general creepers. She tries to handle the situation on her own, but clearly realizes she’s in over her head as she struggles to get to the bottom of who’s behind the vicious attacks against her.
I found Candace a pretty unlikable character, as I think she’s intended to be. At times, Candace’s internal monologue ventures into the satirical, with her stereotypical judgments on people who aren’t just like her. As annoying as her character is, what I gleaned is that her scenario could happen to any of us, a cautionary tale against trusting just anyone blindly. Despite the fact that Candace is rather awful at times, it doesn’t mean that she deserves the targeted sexual harassment of which she becomes a victim.
Told in alternating timelines of then and now, the story moves at a speedy pace, thanks to short chapters and an abundance of action. The ending isn’t what I expected—it takes a twisty turn into outlandish territory for me and I felt that some loose ends were left unresolved—but the story overall is one I enjoyed.
Rating: 4 stars