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The Bar Code Tattoo Paperback – October 1, 2012
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up - It's 2025, and the thing to do on your 17th birthday is to get a bar code tattoo, which is used for everything from driver's licenses to shopping. Kayla, almost 17, resists because she hates the idea of being labeled. Then the tattoos begin to drive people to commit suicide, Kayla's father among them, and she soon finds out that the markings contain detailed information about their bearers, including their genetic code. When the government, controlled by a corporation called Global-1, makes the tattoo mandatory, Kayla joins a teen resistance movement and falls for a gorgeous guy, unaware that he's a double agent. She discovers she has some psychic ability and has confusing visions of future events. Forced to run away after being implicated in her mother's accidental death, she eventually joins other resisters hiding in the Adirondack Mountains, finds romance with an old friend, and learns to harness her psychic powers to fight Global-1 and fulfill her visions. Like M. T. Anderson's Feed (Candlewick, 2002), this novel examines issues of individuality versus conformity and individual freedom versus governmental control. Because it also deals with the ethics of enhanced genetics and cloning, it tries to cover too much territory and relies too heavily on coincidence and far-fetched plotting. Stick with Feed. - Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
(April 1, 2005; 0-439-39562-3)
In 2025 America, everyone is getting the bar code tattoo on their wrist, containing financial and medical information. After sixteen-year-old Kayla Reed's father commits suicide and her best friend's family members are forced to move after receiving their bar codes, Kayla joins the resistance group Decode and refuses to get her tattoo when she turns seventeen. Readers encounter many cliffhangers as Kayla survives a house fire, escapes the hospital before getting tattooed, is accused of murdering her mother, hitchhikes to the Adirondacks, and wanders the wilderness sick with fever and desperate to avoid corporate and government enforcers and double agents her age. After joining a camp of resisters who are developing psychic abilities in response to the changing social and cultural environment, Kayla regains the strength to fight another day. The science fiction angle of the corporate/government powers using bar codes to weed out the unfit and uplift those with the least genetic flaws for future cloning is complemented with a discussion of how credit cards were the seeds of consumer tracking. A subplot of the elderly being euthanized in hospitals to save insurance costs is equally disturbing. Mixed in with such thought-provoking substance are some distracting subplots. A romantic triangle between Kayla and two classmates seems forced and used only to heighten suspense and move a plot that is already progressing well, and the conclusion involving people quickly evolving psychic abilities is under-explored. Teens will enjoy this book with its intriguing cover and suspense but might find the ending unsatisfying.-Julie Scordato.
School Library Journal
(February 1, 2005; 0-439-39562-3)
Gr 6 Up-It's 2025, and the thing to do on your 17th birthday is to get a bar code tattoo, which is used for everything from driver's licenses to shopping. Kayla, almost 17, resists because she hates the idea of being labeled. Then the tattoos begin to drive people to commit suicide, Kayla's father among them, and she soon finds out that the markings contain detailed information about their bearers, including their genetic code. When the government, controlled by a corporation called Global-1, makes the tattoo mandatory, Kayla joins a teen resistance movement and falls for a gorgeous guy, unaware that he's a double agent. She discovers she has some psychic ability and has confusing visions of future events. Forced to run away after being implicated in her mother's accidental death, she eventually joins other resisters hiding in the Adirondack Mountains, finds romance with an old friend, and learns to harness her psychic powers to fight Global-1 and fulfill her visions. Like M. T. Anderson's Feed (Candlewick, 2002), this novel examines issues of individuality versus conformity and individual freedom versus governmental control. Because it also deals with the ethics of enhanced genetics and cloning, it tries to cover too much territory and relies too heavily on coincidence and far-fetched plotting. Stick with Feed.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Sarah Applegate (KLIATT Review, May 2005 (Vol. 39, No. 3))
In a book not far from the headlinesaWhat if people began to get bar codes tattooed on their arms for identification, for credit card purchasing, for movement around the country, for getting a job? This is the premise of The Bar Code Tattoo, a story about Kayla, a high school student who is beginning to get suspicious of what the bar codes are doing to her world. Her friend's father can't get a job, people are losing their homes, alienating their families and committing suicide, and she knows it is somehow connected to the bar codes. She joins a group working against the codes and against Global-1, the corporation behind the codes, and soon is inspired to fight the bar code--and to fall in love! In the end, Kayla finds herself unwittingly on the lam, separated from her friends and family but knowing in her heart that she is doing what is right. This is a great book, one that reminded me of one of my favorites, Feed by M.T. Anderson, though a little less futuristic. It would be an excellent tie-in to discuss contemporary issues of proposed US I.D. cards and civil rights, as well as corporate domination and centralization of ownership. Students will enjoy the multilayered story lines and some students will recognize the similarities to the book of Revelation, which, if you read the author's note, inspired the title. A frightening book. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Scholastic, 252p., $5.99. Ages 12 to 18.
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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.
It's one of the first books I read when I started going to school in 8th grade and my favorite teacher, Ms. Burke had us read this and create an analysis. I recommend this book for teens and adults 12+ and it's great for creative writing and philosophical projects.
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.