Brandy's Reviews > The Unidentified

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
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's review
Jan 27, 11

bookshelves: 2011, dystopian-post-apocalyptic, library, speculative-fiction, teen
Read in January, 2011

As budgets shrink, educational quality shrinks, too. That is, until the corporations volunteer to take over, turning abandoned shopping malls into Game Centers that feed students educational content through video games and challenges. Social networking is a fact of life, and getting branded (a game sponsor taking an interest in you personally, using your every move as PR for their company) is the best thing that can happen to a student. Katey--Kid--is vaguely uncomfortable with the surveillance, but it's the way things are. The students in her Game Center have pretty free reign to pursue whatever interests them, and one morning she witnesses that freedom taking the form of an anti-corporate prank. Who are the Unidentified who committed it? What kind of marketing are they trying to accomplish? Kid's questions get her noticed by the high-tech security firm Protecht, and their branding of her gives her far more social capital than she could have expected. But it also gives her more incentive to uncover the Unidentified--and not in the way her sponsors hope.

This really focuses more on the corporate takeover and loss of freedoms and privacy than on the game settings, which was the part I was more interested in. For a book ostensibly about video gaming as both marketing and education, this was slow-paced and (frankly) a little dull. The first-person narration is peppered with reasonably-authentic "like"s and "I lol'd." What gets irritating is the inability for anyone to just say anything: in one short conversation, the participants mumbled, answered, shrugged, called, asked, snarked, and frowned, but never said.

Readalikes: So Yesterday (Scott Westerfeld) and Pattern Recognition (William Gibson) for cool-hunting and corporate subterfuge; Feed (MT Anderson) for corporate invasion into everyday life.

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