THE UNIDENTIFIED by Rae Mariz
jacket flap blurb
Fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) goes to school in the Game—a mall converted into a “school” run by corporate sponsors. As the students play their way through the levels, they are also creating products and being used for market research by the sponsors, who are watching them 24/7 on video cameras.
Kid has a vague sense of unease but doesn’t question this existence until one day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank. She follows the clues to uncover the identities of the people behind it and discovers an anonymous group that calls itself the Unidentified. Intrigued by their counterculture ideas and enigmatic leader, Kid is drawn into the group. But when the Unidentified’s pranks and even Kid’s own identity are co-opted by the sponsors, Kid decides to do something bigger—something that could change the Game forever.
This funny, sharp, and thought-provoking novel heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in teen fiction.
The world-building took center stage, but it was definitely not the only good aspect of this book. I really enjoyed how the Game started off seeming like a good thing—or at least a giant step up from our current education system—and then, bit by bit, we and Kid discover that it’s anything but. And we don’t just realize a lot of new information. Some stuff is new, and we know more and more about the world as the book goes on, but mostly, its just looking at the situation from a different angle and recognizing how controlling and manipulating the Game truly is.
The characters were interesting and complex, too. I liked how the romance took back stage to the more important things that were going on. I liked Ari’s character and how, like the Game itself, it was revealed that she wasn’t the friend Kid thought she was. I liked Tesla’s development from just somebody Kid kind of knew into someone she could trust. I liked Kid’s relationship with Mrs. Winterson. I liked the Unidentified (naturally), and how their hatred of the system is used by an aspect of the system to get something that aspect wants. I liked Mikey.
But despite all this, there was something missing. And I’m not quite sure what it was. Perhaps it was the fact that Kid is not that interesting of a viewpoint character to follow, and while I supported her, I didn’t feel all that angry when she was wronged or panicked when she was in trouble or happy when she succeeded. Perhaps it was the fact that it didn’t feel quite finished; despite the way it’s written to feel like a stand-alone, the ending left something to be desired—something hard to pinpoint.
All in all, it was good but it felt like it was missing something. Some core, something that pulled it along, some need or longing in the main character that would make the whole thing more vibrant, more alive, more immediate. It needed, I suppose, passion. Both more of it in Kid and more of it in the writing itself.
And, on one last note, the prologue is pointless.
rating out of five stars
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