Hardcover: 502 Pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
This was GREAT! It was off the bat crazy and that made it so much better for me. Excellent with a capital e. And before any of you ask, no, it is not similar to The Hunger Games.
This is Big Brother meets Candid Camera, with a dangerous twist. Six teenagers agree to be part of a new reality show called Who Knows People, Baby – You?. They are told almost from the start that they will be filmed while being put through, seemingly, dangerous situations. The point of the show is guessing correctly what the teens will do in said situations, all for a huge money prize. Only things take a dark turn when ratings seem to be dropping and the show’s producers need to step it up.
The country’s the USA, the year is 2016. After a big financial crisis, dubbed the Collapse, leaves the economy in shambles, people seem to be divided into two types: the wealthy and the really, extremely poor. Both a hint at what this futuristic world is like and a reason why the kids don’t just quit the show when things get rough.
However, as far as world-building goes, I feel it lacked a great deal. I wanted to know more, along the lines of what this world was like, what exactly happened, what did they lose, what were the shows producers motivations, what exactly were these “phantoms” that Amy experienced etc. Then I realized, it didn’t matter. I had all I needed to know to enjoy this book and I did, very, very much so.
The characters were great! I couldn’t help but LOVE Amy. She’s smart, adorable, feisty, honest with herself. She’s a fighter and I loved her to bits.
Her relationships and interactions with each and every one of the other characters were believable and complex. I especially liked her and Rafe, because you get to witness that friendship changing, from start to finish, and it reads very real. It’s not corny, it’s not cliché, it’s damn sweet.
For once, I actually welcomed the two different POVs. The narrator was omniscient, but the points of view switched between seeing events unfold from Amy’s side and seeing them from the producers side. It worked perfectly. The switch was smooth, the voices differed and it did add to the story. There’s no question the showmakers lost it; the question is how will the teens get out of it in one piece.
Even though the action took a while to start, there was a sense of foreboding even from the beginning. The psychological torment of not knowing what to expect and when to expect it, only knowing you need to expect something, was handled extremely well. Then things started escalating in mad, crazy ways and it made for an excellent, engaging read.
I think Kress is a very talented writer, with serious chops when it comes to storytelling and characterization and you should definitely give this book a shot. Pick it up, read it, it’s a must.
*I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged.