The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Taking our corporate culture to a frightening conclusion, this book’s protagonist Kid goes to high school in a converted shopping mall. There are no teachers, but the students learn by playing various games and moving up through the levels. They each have an “intouch” device, which is like an super iPhone, that keeps track of everything they do and everywhere they go in “The Game,” as school is now called. Social networking is also constant, with the kids always aware of the what the people the “follow” are doing, wearing, eating, playing, etc. The whole time, corporate sponsors are watching the teenagers, developing new products and signing them to endorsement contracts, the ultimate prize for many of them. Kid knows something is off about this whole system,but it’s not like she has any choice in the matter. The plot gets really interesting when a fringe group calling themselves the Unidentified host an anti-corporation prank, that captures Kid’s attention. While trying to figure out who they are and what they believe in, she is noticed by one of the larger corporations and “branded,” becoming a trendspotter for their development team. The story also involves a love triangle, but that is almost an aside,taking the back seat to the themes of loss of identity, corporate influence and loss of privacy.
I recommend this book to readers who like dystopias, social networking, futuristic stories and science fiction. It’s a fast read and certainly reflects the directions our culture seems to be taking.