Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Review: Slated by Teri Terry
Slated by Teri Terry
Amazon | Goodreads
Dystopian, 448 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by Orchard Books in the UK
To be released elsewhere SOON!
With dystopian books being as popular as they are right now, it always makes me a little wary when I pick one up. I mean, I love them, don't get me wrong. But it's inevitable when you have a lot of something that they each get a little farther from the core of what makes that something good. Each dystopia seems to be a little...fluffier than the last, and a little more farfetched. To me, you can see the truth in a good dystopia. As bizarre as the society portrayed may be, some little part of you is made extremely uncomfortable while reading it because it feels like it could maybe happen. Dystopias hold up a mirror to some aspect of our society, and then project that aspect to its logical extreme.
While Slated may occasionally fall into some of the fluffy-dystopia traps (not every book needs a romance, dammit!), it generally wiggles itself right back out of those traps, and more importantly, touches on what makes dystopia dystopia - it feels like it could happen.
The idea of Slating, of a forced mind-wipe, is intriguing because it's something I could easily see being researched in a lab somewhere right now. I mean, it's reprogramming, essentially, and we already do that in one form or another. But what makes it so eerie, what makes it seem so plausible, is the idea of it being presented as something altruistic and just - the best, boldest, kindest solution to a problem. Why lock criminals away and let them rot? What good is that doing? What if instead we could simply remake them? What if we could reach into their brains, give their memory Etch-a-Sketch a little shake, and begin anew? And as a failsafe, we'll just have this little brain monitor that would zap the hell out of you if you tried to hurt someone - and maybe even if you get too sad...Wouldn't everyone be better off then? The criminals would get a chance to be productive and happy, and the criminalized would get to feel safe again. Problem solved.
See how easy it is to justify something like this? I guarantee there are people in our society now who would absolutely see the benefits in this and would even promote the science.
That is, if it weren't for one little thing: abuses. Because let's be honest, there's NO WAY this wouldn't be abused. And there you have it: the crux of dystopia. How far can you go before the potential good is outweighed by the potential bad? Terry walked this line really well and as the book went on, was clearly able to convey the snowball effect something like this would have, and the way this kind of legislature/propaganda would creep up on the general public until they find themselves having agreed to a totalitarian society with no real recourse to change things back.
But getting beyond the dystopian aspect, the book is just thoroughly readable. It's engaging right from the start, and Kyla is an intriguing main character. She's fascinating because she doesn't know who she is now or who she was before, but she lives in fear of her unknown past - what must she have done to be slated? The reader is right there with her, wondering if Kyla was part of a terrorist organization, wondering if she was an abused child who turned the tables - wondering what could possible have gotten this bright, artistic, seemingly sweet child slated. As a character with no past, she could have seemed substance-less, but she didn't at all. In fact, she is a sharp counterpoint to many of the other slateds around her, and she only becomes more complex and intriguing (and even more mysterious) as the story goes on.
Now, as I mentioned above, there is a romance, and frankly I could have done with out it. But that's because I'm heartless. I think it was actually pretty well handled (for the most part) and didn't seem forced on the story for the sake of having the Obligatory YA Romance. And there was one thing that happened in the end that redeemed the story-as-far-as-romance-goes for me, and it's spoilery so I'm not going to tell you what, but when you read it you're going to say, Man, she wasn't kidding about being heartless...
And that's all I'm going to say, other than this: When I started this, I stayed up very late into the night and read the first 100+ pages in one sitting. But this was just before Fairy Tale Fortnight, so I really had to put it down, because frankly I should never have picked it up yet. I didn't mean to read the first 100+ pages, I just wanted to get a feel for the story. Putting it down and not coming back to it for almost a month could have really backfired. Sometimes a story grips you in the beginning and you read it voraciously and LOVE IT at the time, and then once you've had some breathing room, you're like, What exactly did I like about that again? It's book crack, and though you love it initially, you regret it later. Putting this down could have revealed this as book crack, if it wasn't a good story. But when I came back to it, I was right back in it like I'd never left. It engulfed me again, and when I was finished, all I could think was how l o n g the wait was going to be until the next book.
So now I need you to read it so we can commiserate. ;D
Don't forget to stop by my giveaway of Slated, as well as my interview with Teri!