Summary (from goodreads):
Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play.
When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn’t have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign
After a few eh werewolf books, I have read a few excellent YA books, this one included. This is a case where you should not just toss this book away for its description because you think it might just be trying to be The Hunger Games like my husband did. It isn’t that at all. The Game in this book isn’t something set up to punish people, it is because the government can no longer fund schools, so corporations are now in charge. They use this power to monitor the students every move and use it for their own research and marketing. Kids can get branded, which means they get special privileges and free stuff – a whole new level of popularity.
They are not just monitoring what kids are wearing or what they are talking about, but also every conversation they have so they can try and control the kids that don’t toe the line. They control every single kid in the country and have enough influence over the government that they make being part of the Game is the only way they can socialize (most stores that aren’t controlling the “schools” won’t let anyone under 17 in). And if anyone who works there shows any disagreement or tries to actually help students, they are automatically fired.
And there are people who want to privatize all schools.
The story is great and kept me interested, so much so that I couldn’t put it down. The world that she built is fascinating, mostly because I could see it become reality. Kid never bought into the branding an popularity, she was just a level-headed teenager who appreciated the friends she had and didn’t need to seek out anything more. Her take on being in the VIP group was really different and enlightening. In contrast her “best friend” wanted it all – the brand, the popularity, the power so much so that she lets her jealousy take over.
It also featured an interesting relationship with her mother. Kid’s mother is very protective, so much so that she won’t even let her Game Card be connected to the metro. At first it seems overbearing and annoying, but later in the book I started to understand that it was more about wanting her daughters life to be better than her own. I wish this relationship had been explored a little more, but I thought it was very realistic and believable.
If you want a story that ties up nicely in the end, this may not be the book for you, but it is a reason that I liked it so much. It isn’t about whether Kid lives happily ever after because it is about more than that and it is fantastic