Author: Teri Terry
Genre: YA, dystopia, biopunk
Publication Date: January 24, 2013 (Penguin – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Kyla has been Slated—her memory and personality erased as punishment for committing a crime she can’t remember. The government has taught her how to walk and talk again, given her a new identity and a new family, and told her to be grateful for this second chance that she doesn’t deserve. It’s also her last chance—because they’ll be watching to make sure she plays by their rules.
As Kyla adjusts to her new life, she’s plagued by fear. Who is she, really? And if only criminals are slated, why are so many innocent people disappearing? Kyla is torn between the need to know more and her instinct for self-preservation. She knows a dangerous game is being played with her life, and she can’t let anyone see her make the wrong move . . . but who can she trust when everyone is a stranger?
☆: 4/5 stars – not perfect, but a really good dystopian that will leave you feeling really creeped out!
Review: Whoa. If you’ve ever felt like current society is becoming a little too dystopic for you, “Slated” is your book. While it wasn’t perfect, this series has a lot going for it – to the point where I’m definitely in for book two onward. In a future that seems all too probable, “Slated” will suck you in and not let go until the very last page, and Terry’s words will definitely haunt you afterward.
My biggest problems with this book: the lack of history when it comes to worldbuilding, and telling over showing. Let’s take a look at the first – history, or backstory is really, really important, especially in a dystopia genre book. While I feel like we got some information, it felt way too neatly-wrapped and succinct for me to feel like it was really realistic. I’m hoping this will change with book two, and we’ll get a bit more meat on the bones that Terry provided for us here in book one.
As for the telling over showing, there are quite a few bits in this book where I feel like Terry shortchanged us all a bit when it comes to sensory imagery and language. When she wants to, she can pack quite a punch – pretty much all of the memory scenes, and some of the AGT scenes were extremely vivid, almost to the point of being visceral in description. But a lot of other places, I feel like things were just kind of barely sketched out. I have no idea if this was done on purpose – after all, Kyla has been Slated, so everything’s a bit sketchy and fuzzy to her after getting her brain messed with, so I can’t really be sure. It does create this bit of a hazy effect for the reader – that almost-but-not-quite feeling of grasping something for the first time. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend in her writing continues for book two.
I think that Terry’s strongest area in the technical arena is her characters. Even the most minor characters I felt like I had a connection with, and Kyla’s definitely a good, strong MC that I felt like I could connect to, even though I haven’t had any bouts of memory loss. She really comes together as a MC by the end of the book, and she felt most solid then. Perhaps because she’s feeling so shaky after being Slated that the character building was a bit on the weak side at first, only to get stronger and stronger as the book continued. Again, like I said above, I’m not really sure. I did like how she really had to fight for everything, because I’m a fan of authors who kill their darlings for emotional payoff. It worked. And I definitely want to come back for more.
As for the romance with Ben: I wasn’t entirely feeling it, though thankfully it wasn’t insta-love. This is another area I felt could have been fleshed out more, but at its core it’s a very interesting relationship. Are they friends? Are they more? And can one fall in love so soon after having one’s memory wiped? These were all fascinating questions that Terry delved into, but not all of them were answered. Considering Ben’s fate in this book, I’m guessing we’ll get more into their relationship in the next. However, I did like it, even if it felt a bit on the hazy side.
But what was truly scary was the idea of Slating – it feels all too possible. It makes you ask yourself – where is the line between rehabilitating ‘troubled’ youth (and who gets to make the decision about what constitutes ‘troubled’, anyway?), and violation of the self at the deepest level? Our memories are ephemeral, but much like computers and data storage pieces, they can be re-written, or backed up in different cells of the brain (which is what I believed enabled Kyla to do so much of what she did in this book). Memory loss itself feels like something greater – you’ve lost something and you’re not sure what it was, or how important it was in the greater scheme of things. But to have someone take it for you in the name of bettering society (and you yourself)…I couldn’t imagine that. The lure of that with this book was quite the powerful one, and that’s what kept me turning the pages. It’s also one of the few dystopians that had biopunk working in its favor as a sub-genre, and it’s one of the more original dystopians I’ve read in YA in awhile.And since there has been such a dystopic boom in the last few years, I guess that’s saying a lot.
Final verdict? While I feel like the whole book could have used one more draft to really flesh things out, I also did kind of like the hazy, not-quite-sureness of it, too. Either way, if just for the premise alone, it simply must be read. “Slated” is out now from Penguin in North America, so be sure to check it out!