From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10-In 2083, all education in the United States is conducted through television. Shows re-creating historical events like the Battle of the Alamo are used to teach history, and also to give losers in the educational dice roll a chance to earn fame and money. The Secretary of Entertainment, worried about falling ratings, has come up with a splendid idea-re-create Robert F. Scott's 1912 expedition to the South Pole, using 14-year-old kids, most of whom have never even experienced snow. And make sure they are completely isolated by implanting tiny digital cameras directly into their corneas, thus avoiding the need for pesky camera crews who might interfere with the drama. The five participants are the usual band of misfits, including Grace, an Iñupiat Eskimo transplanted to Arizona after Alaska is turned into a nuclear waste dump, and Billy, who desperately wants to be voted MVP, but hides snack food from his starving companions. There's also Polly, who has an amazing memory and a surprising capacity for leadership; Robert, great with engines and sheer determination; and Andrew, searching for his special talent and finding unexpected depths of courage. Back in the television studio, a few brave employees surreptitiously help the kids and try to figure out a way to stop the madness. Brisk action, interesting characters, and intriguing (sometimes gruesome) details make this a compelling story, while television's pervasive presence in our lives and the undeniable popularity of the "reality" format give a rather frightening timeliness and believability to the tale.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 7-10. In a future where the government plies the public with nonstop reality television to provide distraction from the rampant poverty, and higher education is won or lost on a dice toss, Historical Survivor is the most popular program on the tube. Teens Andrew, Polly, Robert, Billy, and Grace have been chosen from a pool of thousands to reenact Robert F. Scott's fatal 1910-13 expedition to the South Pole in Antarctic Historical Survivor. Like Scott, they will face hidden crevasses, mechanical failure, and frostbite. But while Scott's calamities occurred naturally, the Secretary of Entertainment has made sure the teens' perils are written into the script. Luckily, there are those working on the production determined to save the kids--at any cost. While the writing in this debut novel is fairly pedestrian, the pacing is excellent, and the story swings from one cliff-hanger to the next as the five characters develop in predictable but satisfying ways. A real page-turner, this novel will give readers pause as they ponder the ethics of teens risking their lives in adult-contrived situations for the entertainment of the masses. Jennifer HubertCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved