Thank you Colored Pages tours and Holiday House for the review copy and the opportunity to be a part of this tour!
You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.
They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.
But they’re still lies.
Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.
Except it’s all fake.
Max is actually 16-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence–just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get–texting, Snapping, and even calling–the more Kat feels she has to keep up the facade.
But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.
But it might already be too late.
Imagine a full novel from the POV of the catfish. Now imagine understanding that catfish and still wishing they have as happy as an ending as they could given everything that has happened. Put those two ideas together and you get No Filter and other Lies. We follow Kat Sanchez as she create the heartthrob Max Monroe and navigates keeping one of the biggest lies yet as secret as possible. As the lies become bigger and the boy behind the photos becomes viral, making it harder to hide, Kat has to figure out how to get out of this bed of lies without losing everything.
No Filter and Other Lies focuses on some real themes that both teens and adults face today. You see how social media can be both a curse and an escape. How portraying someone else can feel refreshing. The themes are so relevant because we see them in our everyday lives. From shows, like Catfish, catfishing in many forms is something we just know is a part of navigating social media. Crystal writes into these themes so well that it almost makes it feel like a story many people can relate two, whether they were the catfish or not. Crystal is able to show how impactful social media can have on how one view’s themselves and how anxiety inducing clicking to check likes can be. In short, this story was so good. Crystal makes you like Kat even though she is doing some pretty hurtful things. She roots for Kat to give it up and see just how awesome she is and hope that she can repair the parts of her life that are not perfect. The story also notes the darker side of catfishing and how for the catfisher- it can be a mode of escape that they become addicted to when their reality is far from the perfect vision they want to see.
What I enjoyed most about Kat’s character was how creative she was. Yes, she may have created lies but I tihnk for Kat the lies she made outside of the Max Monroe profile were understandable. When you live in a society where your upbringing or who you are isn’t the ideal type, sometimes lying to fit in more eases some of the pressures and anxieties for wanting to be authentic but also wanting friends. Kat’s character hit what a teen exploring so much of herself can be. We see it in shows and other forms of media now where tens are figuring out their identity and their sexuality. Kat realizing that she may be bisexual and may have a huge crush on her friend Elena is an experience many teens are experiencing now. Although I couldn’t relate to that experience, I can appreciate seeing a character becoming more confident in who she is. Speaking of Elena, I honestly enjoyed how she was the friend who would call it as it is and let Kat know that her lies would get back to her. We see Kat face the consequences of her actions and then see Kat trying to build those pieces back up again to replenish the relationships her lies have tarnished but not completely break.
Overall, Crystal knows how to write a good story, so I wasn’t surprised when I read through this in one sitting. Crystal is spinning stories of teen experiences that are happening to the present. Teen readers will be able to relate to Kat in some for of way and understand how impactful the strive to reach that social media aesthetic can make you do things you will not be okay with in the future. It’s a quick read, it’s a fun read and really hones into important themes while still providing an entertaining story.
About The Author
Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, is a 2021 New England Book Award winner, a Cosmopolitan Best New Book, and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others. By day, Crystal works in higher ed marketing, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. Her work has also been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant.
She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.