From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–In a startlingly plausible dystopian society, the school system has failed to the point that the government gives over control of national education to corporations. These conglomerates have banded together to create what are known as Game Centers. Here students like Katey Dade, or Kid, go to “school” in refurbished shopping malls. They swipe cards to get in and out, they carry issued cell phones with GPS trackers, they post continuously to profile pages and status feeds (similar to Facebook and Twitter), while administrators and corporate officials monitor their every move. Students who achieve the highest scores in games, set the coolest fashion trends, and gain the utmost popularity are “Branded,” instantly assisting the corporations to plug their wares. Kid coasts, never looking to become Branded, but then she is taken up by not just one corporate sponsor, but two, as a “trendspotter.” As she tries to balance new expectations with betrayals by lifelong friends and new relationships, Kid also begins to question the societal structure around her. Drawn to the prank-pulling group calling themselves The Unidentified, she longs for her previous anonymity and blissful ignorance of the shady dealings all around her. Well written and featuring a cast that most readers will find some sort of connection with, this novel is an impressive debut. Teens will immediately be able to see the connections to today's technology-dependent society and imagine how the future could be eerily like the setting in The Unidentified. Kid takes readers through myriad emotions on her whirlwind tour as a “name” in the game, and readers will be fixated until the very end. Recommend this one to fans of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008) and James Dashner's The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009).Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
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Teens in Generation AAA (after Gen X,Y, and Z) are schooled in the “Game,” a mall-like consumer environment where they are supremely connected to one another, and potential sponsors are likewise connected to them. Musically inclined Kid isn’t very engaged with racking up points, improving her profile, or getting branded, but witnessing a staged suicide stunt spurs her to action, seeking out the identity of the so-called Unidentified who masterminded the event. Ironically, the deeper she gets into her investigation, the more appealing she is to the sponsors. Risking her security, her music, and her relationships, Kid perseveres, awakened to a cause worth fighting for. This is a futuristic, underground, anticorporate mystery/call to action with a dash of romantic interest that will find a niche with readers of other outsider fiction and those who enjoy imagining the way we will interact in the not-so-distant future. Grades 7-11. --Heather Booth