Author: Rae Mariz
Genre: YA, Dystopia
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: October 5th 2010
Hardcover: 336 pages
Stand Alone or series: Stand alone
Fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) goes to school in the Game—a mall converted into a “school” run by corporate sponsors. As the students play their way through the levels, they are also creating products and being used for market research by the sponsors, who are watching them 24/7 on video cameras.Review:
Kid has a vague sense of unease but doesn’t question this existence until one day she witnesses a shocking anti-corporate prank. She follows the clues to uncover the identities of the people behind it and discovers an anonymous group that calls itself the Unidentified. Intrigued by their counter culture ideas and enigmatic leader, Kid is drawn into the group. But when the Unidentified’s pranks and even Kid’s own identity are co-opted by the sponsors, Kid decides to do something bigger—something that could change the Game forever.
When America can no longer afford to pay for public schooling, corporate sponsors are quick to pick up the tag. Sponsors get to try out new products and get gullible kids to buy their stuff while the students get to stay up to date with the latest technology and play video games during school hours. Seems like a win-win for everyone but when Kid comes across a group of students who don't think it's great that they're being tracked by corporations and refuse to compete against their schoolmates for prizes and recognition, she's forced to reconsider everything she's casually accepted.
The strongest thing about this story is the idea itself. It is really easy for me to accept the reality Mariz has envisioned. With the hyper consumerism of our culture already and the vast privatization that's happening on all fronts, corporate run schools seems completely believable. More than that though, it actually seems inevitably. Kid is a nice enough protagonist. She's interested in this mysterious group, the Unidentified, but she's also quick to fall into the sponsor's traps and do exactly what's expected of her. This made her character fairly believable since she wasn't too much of anything. I even liked the nice romantic twist Mariz worked into the book. Talk about major eye-rolling when a certain boy came onto the scene, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way the story progressed on that front.
But while the book's main concept is completely believable, its execution is problematic. The main problem is that this story essentially felt...meh. It takes a long time for anything to happen and when it does I couldn't help but feel apathetic about it all. The ending felt like a non-ending and the central themes of the book felt watered down. Basically, the story had no meat on its bones. Or teeth. A book like this should have teeth.
Mariz built an interesting world, but it kind of felt like she just stopped there. So while I wouldn't say this book was bad, I can't really say it was good either. It was just meh. Plus, this is another one of those books where the rules are so easily broken and the "mysteries" so easily solved that it feels a bit silly. At no point did I ever feel any any immediacy or that Kid was in danger. And that kind of defeats the point doesn't it?
Notable Quotes/ Parts:
You can read the first 60 pages here.
Another book that doesn't live up to its potential. Completely unfortunate.
Rating: 5. Blah – essentially neutral