Review: The Unidentified

Review: The UnidentifiedThe Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 5, 2010
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Pages: 296
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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.

The dystopian vision of The Unidentified is restricted primarily to education and the impulse to materialism. While some aspects of the Game are hard for me to imagine as a realistic path a society might take, they are made more convincing by their interweaving with current technologies.

Every student in the Game carries an intouch®, on which they update their network. The network page has the functionality of Facebook: chat, information about interests and friendships. In addition to the importance of this, there are also the streams, based upon Twitter. Everyone communicates via these modes of communication and a whole culture has developed around following people’s streams; for example, it is rude to comment on a conversation not directed your way and it is a big deal to be @ed by a branded person.

I found Katey to be a very likable a and realistic character. She is mostly a loner, preferring the company of a select few to popularity. Still, she can be led astray and make bad choices. Even so, I forgave her for her errors and transgressions, because they are so high school. I can remember feeling the way she does in the book, feeling like maybe it would be worth sacrificing some parts of yourself to be popular. Just because she falls into that trap does not make her any less clever, it just makes her human.

I really loved this book. It manages to make a dystopian society that really isn’t terrifying or violent. It’s mass consumerism, popularity contests, and connection without closeness. Very well done. I hope to see more from Rae Mariz!

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