Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: Unidentified by Rae Mariz

by Rae Mariz
Published: May 2010
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Available: Amazon

Book Blurb:

Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play.

When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn't have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign

So this was one of those books that the library recommended for people if they enjoyed The Hunger Games. Well, I'm not sure the person recommending it had ever read both books. It's not that this isn't a good book, because it is. It's just that they are not comparable. The only thing I could see as a similarity is that they are both set in the future.So if you've seen a similar recommendation be prepared.

There were a lot of things I loved about this book. The concept is awesome. It's one that I could actually see happening in today's society. A school funded by companies, used to push test and push their products, is a viable concept. I can remember in high school having a vote about whether we would have Coke or Pepsi products on campus. In the end, the school administration decided based on how much money the company would pay to be exclusive. Tweens and teens are probably the most influential consumers. Would your parents or grandparents really have the technology they have if the younger generation was there to introduce it to them, teach them how to use it?

Mariz took the idea a step further. Students weren't just using or trying out the products, they were also becoming the testers and creators, and this is where I see the idea as becoming practical. I've read a few reviews of this book that said they were playing games and had no real classes. But what is more real than the application and evaluation process?

The characters were for the most part interesting. Kid seems like that perfect mix of an outsider who doesn't want attention but wouldn't mind it at the same time. She is fine with her social standing and actually thinks the 'branding' process is stupid. But once she is 'branded' she doesn't mind the benefits it brings her. Kid is average. And this makes her very easy to believe and relate to. Her friends Cory and Hannah are complete opposites of each other. Cory is more of a nerd, and he is a believable and likable character, there are a few inconsistencies with his character, but he's not constantly being followed and so we can't be 100% sure what is going on with him. Hannah though, is a complete bitch. I have no idea why Kid and Cory would even want to hang around with her let alone be her best friend. She's rude, snotty, stuck up and she bails on them countless times, until she finally stabs Kid in the back because of jealousy. She contributes nothing to the storyline that I can remember and is so unlikable that every time she was mentioned I wanted to skip ahead.

The mystery of 'the Unidentified' is slow to start and and once it does it becomes pretty obviously very quickly who is part of the group. What drags on is the question of what are their ultimate motives. It's during this last quarter of the book that things start to get convoluted. I felt like Mariz had been told to cut a few thousand words and the pieces that connected and made the story flow ended up cut.  

Overall, this is a good read. Not amazing, but solid and worth the time. 

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