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The Bar Code Tattoo (The Bar Code Trilogy, Book 1) (1) Paperback – October 1, 2012
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I quite liked the first half of this book. It's actually more unnerving than a lot of other dystopian novels since it's very, very close to life right now. The idea that people would get tattooed with a bar code that contains all their ID and financial information is sort of the direction we're going now: paperless, efficient... I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I loves me my debit card and internet shopping, but this novel, only a step or two down the path we're on, actually gave me pause.
I liked it so well, in fact, that I found myself wishing the author weren't writing for a young adult audience; the book could have been fleshed out and expanded and would probably be appreciated by readers of all ages. A little more depth would have done it justice...but that's not to say that I wasn't enjoying reading it as it is.
And then around the middle of the book, it got a little too bizarre. First I could overlook the extremely rapid move from nebulous oppression to characters who just happened to stumble on the malevolent new world order of genetic modification and cloning and wholesale slaughter of the imperfect. I could even overlook the wildly implausible escape by a girl too stupid to know that email could be tracked and who kept managing to stumble across friends and enemies while traveling and hiding out in a huge region. (One coincidence is fine. Lots of them tell me that the author is getting lazy.)
Well, I guess I didn't overlook these things so much as suspend judgment until I could see where it was going.
Where it went was a step through a trans-dimensional portal and into the Celestine Prophesy. Suddenly humans fighting the bar code have evolved virtually overnight into superior beings with funky mental powers. And never mind that I was disliking the protagonist more and more; she starts out asserting that she despises those girls who put on an act just to nab a boyfriend, and then turns into one of those very girls. I mean, a character that unaware of herself and that judgmental without even a nod to the irony in her own new love isn't terribly likeable. (You can almost hear her whining, "but you don't underSTAND how real this is!")
The problem, I think, is that the initial appeal of this book was in its realism. Its potential for predicting reality. And if the author had just put down the hash pipe and held off her new age conversion for a hundred pages or so, this book would have been quite good. And that almost-awesomeness actually makes me dislike this book more than I would have if it had just started out all weird. Instead, it's like a bait and switch.
Meh. I'll give it two stars since the beginning was good and the length meant I only wasted a few hours of my life. But all the shaking-my-head-in-disgust keeps me from giving it any more than that.
The fact that the government in the USA is wiretapping places without warning makes the message in this book flare to life. If people could keep tabs on us, it'd be a very scary world indeed. We'd lose all of our rights, and would be at the mercy of whoever had control over the information they had on us. That's what I kept thinking through out this book: that it could happen, if it hasn't already.
Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. It's not a horrible book, it's got a good message and was for the most part interesting. Then again, I wasn't emotionally invested as much as I get with an AMAZING book. I suggest you try a sample & see what you think of that 1st.
However, the plot has all the subtlety of a drunken frat boy. Everything that you think is going to happen, happens. Evolution doesn't respond to politics within the same generation. I didn't find any of the characters particularly compelling. This book would have benefited from at least an extra 100 pages, if not being split in two.
Top international reviews
Im Buch wird darüber diskutiert, ob man auf den Bar-Code - ein Tattoo am Handgelenk, das alle Kreditkarten, Versicherungskarten, Patientenakten und weit mehr ersetzen soll - nicht schon seit den 1990ern zugegangen ist. Ob die Menschen so an Kontrolle gewöhnt sind, dass es ihnen auch egal ist, ob eine global operierende Firma ihr ganzes Leben von der Geburt an vorherbestimmen kann. Ob es letzten Endes darauf hinauslaufen wird, dass nur der überlebt, dessen genetische Disposition gut genug ist, das äußerste Extrem des Überlebens des Stärkeren.
Eingebettet in eine gute Geschichte werden hier Fragen behandelt, die uns alle angehen, und die wir möglichst bald beantworten sollten; jeder für sich, aber auch öffentlich. Sonst stehen auch wir bald vor der Entscheidung: Bar-Code oder ein Leben als Ausgestoßene?