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All Rights Reserved: A New YA Science Fiction Book (Word$) Hardcover – August 29, 2017
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"A chilling, unnerving, and timely debut novel about what it means to speak out, even in silence."
-Katharine McGee, New York Times bestselling author of The Thousandth Floor
"A nightmarish future...Fast-paced action sequences...A fresh and detailed dystopian tale." -Kirkus
"By the end of this first book, readers will be thinking about every word they speak, knowing, as Speth does, that 'words matter.'" -Booklist
"Between the clever premise and the protagonist's stand against a repressive society, Katsoulis's work is timely and will appeal to fans of Dan Wells's Bluescreen, M.T. Anderson's Feed, Cecelia Ahern's Flawed, or Scott Westerfeld's Uglies [series]." -School Library Journal
"Though she doesn't speak, Speth has been given a distinctive and memorable voice by Gregory Scott Katsoulis. All Rights Reserved is both deeply troubling and utterly captivating; a must read for fans of the dystopic, and more specifically of M.T. Anderson's Feed." -Shelf Awareness
"Intense... A provocative setup." -Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Gregory Scott Katsoulis is a writer, teacher, artist, and goofball. He is in love with ideas and possibility. When he is not writing, Katsoulis composes incidental music and enjoys taking photographs of faces, debunking bunk, and confounding children by teaching them about black holes, time travel paradoxes, and the hilarious fallibility of human memory. He lives in the lovely and stimulating Cambridge, Massachusetts. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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This world is one where a majority of words and gestures have been copyrighted, patented, or trademarked. Every word an individual speaks or gesture they make after age fifteen is tracked in order to determine how much they owe the stakeholders for expressing themselves. Most families are separated due to crippling debts accrued throughout generations. All Rights Reserved begins on Speth’s fifteenth birthday as she’s getting ready to say her first paid words. After seeing her friend commit suicide rather than try to work off his family’s crippling debt, Speth can’t stomach the idea of giving her speech, which was populated with advertisements for companies and platitudes rather than meaningful statements. To avoid increasing her family’s debt, she choose to go entirely silent, sparking a movement that may ultimately change the world.
The concept of this world was so unique, I absolutely loved it. The author did a fantastic job of showing the reader the world and Speth’s place in it as the story progressed. The book went by pretty quickly, I was actually surprised by how engrossed it in I was during most of the plot. However, I do wish that the other members of Speth’s team had been explored more and been developed more. I thought that the author did a good job of balancing Speth’s maturity level with the enormity of her decision. Since Speth didn’t quite understand what the impact would be of her split-second decision, it was interesting to see how both she and the society were affected by it over time. The ending definitely gave me some chills, I can’t wait to see where the story goes next!
Overall, this was both an entertaining and thought-provoking read. It was refreshing to see an author use a futuristic dystopian world to create social commentary regarding a modern day problem. It almost reminded me of what Aldous Huxley did with Brave New World (which you should definitely read if you enjoyed this novel). I am very intrigued to see how the author will further develop this story in the sequel.
*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
- The plot of this book is so unique, and unlike anything I've ever read before. A world in which people are charged for every word they speak, every nod or sigh, every kiss or hug - it's honestly a little bit terrifying to even think of, especially as the story goes on to explain that people who go too far into debt are basically forced into indentured slavery to the government.
- I loved the sci-fi aspects of the story, such as the ocular lenses everyone was forced to wear that could shock them for transgressions, or the Ads that were custom-tailored to the potential customers walking by at any given time. So many features in the story just felt so innovative!
- The Product Placers. I assumed from the very beginning that they would be important, given how much Speth was fascinated by them, so I was pretty pleased when they recruited her onto their team. Kel, Henri, and Margot are all such fun and sweet characters, plus I was especially fond of the scenes in which Speth was getting her feet under her and learning the ropes. The missions the team were sent on just sounded so intense and fun, and I am a sucker for the whole "lonely/misunderstood MC finds a group of misfit friends to become their family" trope.
The... not so good stuff:
- Speth. This poor, sad child... sigh. I mean, the very first decision she makes in the entire book is so astonishingly poorly thought out that I just thought, certainly, she would have to progress in an upward fashion as the story continued... right? Nope.
She makes one poor decision after another, and by the end of the book, I honestly was just wishing someone would scream at her until she finally grasped the severity of the stupid, reckless, and terrible choices she made.
- Despite being a first-person narration style, I had a very hard time connecting to Speth emotionally. The story as a whole drew me in, and I found myself feeling attached to other characters at times, but I think the complete lack of dialogue from Speth makes her really hard to relate to. She constantly caused emotional duress to others through her silence, when they needed her to speak, and that made it really hard to view her as anything beyond this calloused and aloof child.
- Without trying to spoil too much, there's a serious story arc of exploiting someone's feelings to use them (and it's such a sweet character who gets hurt, at that!), and then it's just... never really called out? There are no actual repercussions, and very little remorse, seemingly.
- Again, no spoilers, but there is a heartbreaking turn of events towards the end of the book that made me want to throw my kindle and never, ever finish this story. I literally made a Goodreads status that basically said there are books that can break your heart and make you love them more, and then there are books that go for the Big Traumas and just piss you the hell off. This incident was the latter scenario.
- The ending leaves a lot of things unexplained, and the story is wrapped up in an incredibly unrealistic and rushed manner. I know it's the first book in a series, but the story would have been better to leave off on a cliffhanger than to rush through the last few chapters the way it did.
This was actually an incredibly anticipated read for me, and I thought I would love it and totally fly through it; sadly, though, it just didn't cut it for me. If you're particularly into dystopian titles like I am, I would say pick it up, give it a chance, and it may be much more enjoyable for you than it was for me! As far as I'm concerned, though, I'll pass on continuing the series.