Thursday, January 13, 2011
Review: The Unidentified (Rae Mariz)
Author: Rae Mariz
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school's library
Summary (from the back of the book): Everyone knows we are being watched. It's not even something to be paranoid about. It's a fact. We'll be talking to a friend and then all of a sudden, we're AWARE of... I don't know, being public. We start to say our lines too loud, waiting for the audience to laugh. Not for our friend to laugh, just... the world. The world is watching, somehow. And we want to entertain them. We want to be smart and funny. Clever, witty, loved. We want to know someone cares.
We know the sponsors care. They invest in the schools because they care about what we wear, what we listen to, what we watch, and what we're saying about what we wear, listen to, and watch. The world is a giant squinty eye, peeking in through the skylight, spying. Does that creep us out? No. We like the attention.
Review: I haven't heard a lot about this book around the blogosphere, but it's pretty darn interesting. The premise is that the students attend school (called the Game) in an abandoned shopping center. So there are security camera everywhere, they are being watched, and everything is recorded to "better" the Game. Kids who start trends get "branded" by a company and get free stuff. Trends change every few weeks, depending on what the branded kids are doing, saying, and enjoying.
Like video games, students earn points in the Game and progress through levels, not grades. How do they earn points? They play games, enter competitions, go to workshops, buy products, test products, get branded, start a trend (fashion, music, speech, or other), even attend events. Not a lot of learning going on. Really, it's an exaggeration of today's youth with the internet, TV, video games, tweeting, etc. It seems far off, but not really.
I liked the main character, Kid, and her friends. They had "normal" teenage interactions in amongst the weirdness of the Game. And, there is a mystery.... Can you outwit the Gam, its administrators, and sponsors? What happens if someone tries? Can testing the system only get you in trouble or can you make a difference? You'll have to read the book to find out.