Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Unidentified

There are certain books that you simply expect to love. They get so much buzz that it’s hard not to love them even before you read them. If you’re lucky, they actually are as good as everybody says. I call these books “Pre-love books”—books like MATCHED and PARANORMALCY. I mean, these books were amazing, and I LOVE it when a book meets such high expectations. But I think what tends to happen sometimes is that we’ll assume they are the only good books. Or perhaps we know better, but sometimes we’re afraid to risk our overblown book budgets on books we don’t recognize because they haven’t been heavily promoted.

So, take a look at this book and remember it. Consider this book pimped:




Goodreads description: Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play.

When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn't have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign.

My Review

I think it’s safe to say I have never read a book quite like this. It took me a couple of pages to get a feel for what it was about, and a little bit longer to get a solid grip on the world—which is the same world as ours, just in the future. But once I got it, I GOT it. And let me tell you, on the surface, this is a world I would have loved to live in as a kid. I mean, come on, a school where you don’t have to struggle through the normal classroom setting, but instead you get to play interactive video games all day? Where you get to watch robot wars? Where you get sponsors to buy your wardrobe? Crazy cool.

But beneath the surface? Holy crap, it’s high school drama magnified times a bajillion, because there are corporations validating and encouraging the notion of cliques by sponsoring kids who have established a certain image; imagine goths, preps and jocks getting financial sponsorship and image guidance from Spencers, Eddie Bauer, and Nike. Any sense of individuality is muted because to stand out by being different is to create an image or a brand that will be marketed as an image to be replicated by classmates. It’s a total mind trip that will have you questioning the whole concept of conformity because even rebellion is, in a sense, a matter of conformity—that’s what the sponsors are looking for, as rebellion can be seen as a cool thing to be advertised and sold.

It’s an intriguing foundation for a book, to be sure, but it’s not until The Unidentified prank that Kid starts to question her role and that of all the students within The Game (the school). THE UNIDENTIFIED highlights some of the greatest issues of adolescence: identity and privacy (and even first love), making this futuristic novel feel totally relevant to today and probably always.

But one of the coolest aspects of this book is the voice, which felt so genuine, so sharp, I could hear it in my head as if it were being spoken aloud. But there isn’t a single WTF or OMG—instead Mariz has created her own slang or teen-speak, the meaning of which is completely identifiable through context, so that the voice can feel legitimate without dating the book. The prose won’t escape your notice either. I can’t tell you how many lines stopped me in my tracks because they were so thought-provoking and gorgeous, like written works of art, and yet accessible, like not the abstract kind of art that gives me a headache trying to figure it out. More like Renoir, but, you know, less old and way more hip. Like, okay, here:

Mike spent all his time working on the most pathetic little spidery-legged robot. It was raw clumsy and adorable. (81)

It’s simple, but so vividly constructed and filled with voice. What more can I say? For writers, this books kicks some serious ass. Read it once for pleasure and a second time to learn how to write YA—or how to write period. For readers? Read it twice just for the hell of it. It’s awesome.

THE UNIDENTIFIED is now available for preorder and will be released October 5, 2010.


Be sure to go check out what books some of the other Bookanistas reviewers are celebrating today.


  • Christine Fonseca is celebrating THE DUFF
  • Elana Johnson is raving about FIRELIGHT
  • Shelli Johannes Wells is giving us a preview of DESIRES
  • Shannon Messenger is loving THE MOCKINGBIRDS
  • Lisa and Laura Roecker are praising NIGHTSHADE CITY
  • Scott Tracey is ravenous about HUNGER


    emotionalintensity While you’re at Christine’s blog, you might want to read the first chapter of her new nonfiction book,  EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS, to be released October 1, 2010.





    And finally, Happy Birthday, Sara McClung! Be sure to stop by and wish her a happy day :D


    1. Thank you for this fabulous review! I have read a few great reviews for this, and am very excited to check it out.

    2. This book sounds awesome :-) I'm definitely going to check it out, thanks for the review!

    3. What an amazing review - I so need to read this NOW! And thanks for the plug. I'll admit, I'm pretty freaked having the chapter out in the world surreal! HUGS {{hopping over to Sara's blog to wish her a happy b-day}}

    4. Wow, that sounds intense! Can't wait to read it!

    5. When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. Glad to see you liked it!

    6. Never heard of this one! Thanks for the awesome review!

    7. I've been dying to read this ever since you told me about it, and even more now that you've posted this review.

    8. This sounds really good. I'm putting it on my wishlist NOW.

    9. Wow. What a cool concept! I've heard of this book but this is the first review I've read. It is not on my TBR list. Thanks for spotlighting a lesser known one!

    10. I haven't heard of this one. I betcha even my daughter might like that one! The thought of sponsoring high schoolers TERRIFIES me though. Seriously. Running-out-of-the-room-screaming-meemies. I can't imagine how horrible high school could have been if the snots had been bankrolled!

    11. Oh wow! What a great review. You've sold me! Adding it to my list. This one sounds really great!

      Happy Birthday, Sara!! I'll check out Christine's blog too ;o) Thanks!

    12. I really have to give you credit as the best Bookanista of the bunch. You really give a thoughtful analysis of the book, while the others skimp on details and just rave. I bought Firelight based on your review a while ago and was thrilled. now I will have to consider buying the Unidentified. I agree with Elana's gushing about Firelight today, but readers won't learn anything about the book except that she loves the cover and the boy is hawt.

    13. Aw, thank you SO much for the bday shout out :) xoxox

      Also, I gave this ARC away before I had a chance to read it (stupid revision cuts into my reading time) and now I will DEFINITELY pick it up when it comes out!!

    14. Excellent review... Does make me want to run out and put one on hold. Must resist all temptation... Oh heck...

    15. My checking account thanks you for your excellent review... I think it used a four letter word. But I wasn't listening as I squealed for joy... ;)

    16. Woah. This sounds absolutely fantastic. And refreshing. What a unique premise! Heading over to Goodreads to put it on my to-read list STAT.

      Thanks Carol. Your reviews ROCK!

    17. What a faboo review! Another one to add to my ridonkulously-long "to read" list!

      Ever the language nerd, I'm especially interested in checking out Mariz's "teen speak" as you put it.

      And happy birthday to S-Mac as well! :D

    18. Sounds good to me and I trust your opinions, so I'm adding it to my TBR list.


    19. Nice review, C! I like your details and presentation. Any author is uber-lucky to be pimped by you.

    20. What a fabulous concept for a book. Thanks so much Carol for posting such a wonderful review that allows us to get a sense of the book and the unique world it contains. This is definitely going on my overburdened TBR list.

    21. I can't wait for "The Unidentified" ! I'm glad you liked it so much.. great review! :)

    22. Thanks for the great review, Carol! Sounds like an awesome book. And thank you to you and all the other Bookanistas who tirelessly weed through mounds of books and screen out the best of the best, both for our reading pleasure and to help us improve our craft with examples of great writing. Although reviews might be subjective, I have to say you guys are consistently spot on in my book. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts!

    23. Nicely reviewed, as always, Carol. You've got a knack for capturing the spirit of a book and making it accessible for potential readers.

      I guess I could've just gone with "you rock" as a comment, but I figured you'd like a little elaboration.


    24. This sounds like a "read" I'll have to track down.

    25. This book sounds so cool! I'll definitely check it out.

    26. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments. I really appreciate you guys stopping by and letting me know what you think. I hope you get a chance to read THE UNIDENTIFIED. It's one of those books that entertains you, but leaves you thinking.

      J, I'm so glad you thought so. I have a feeling you'd like it. I think we were together when I was still reading it!

      Vicki, it is definitely terrifying. Can you imagine corporate sponsorship of bullies?

      Margo, thank you for your honest opinion. I think we all take a different approach to reviews and reach different groups of people in this way. The motto of the Bookanistas is to express our appreciation for the books we love most, whether it's through a review or cover love or a shoutout, sharing enthusiasm and love in a variety of different ways. But I am so glad that you were able to take something away from today's review. Let me know what you think of it!

      Jonathon, hurry up and write a book so I can pimp you, yo.

      Simon, "You rock" works too :P

    27. Great review! You've got me drooling to read it. And a shout out for Christine . . . the first chapter was fascinating. Had me analyzing my childhood and now my kids. :)

    28. I believe I already have this on my Amazon wishlist but if not, I'll be adding it. Thanks for the review. I love finding new books to read that haven't gotten as much attention.

    29. I've been thinking about this book since I read this post, and finally went to look it up on B& only to see that it's not out yet! Not fair! :P

      *adds it to the wishlist*

    30. I love the concept of this book. It's SO fascinating to me! And after your review, I'm definitely going to have to check it out!

    31. Wow. That book sounds absolutely amazing. CanNOT wait to read it!

    32. What a thoughtful review! This book sounds amazing. The futuristic thing is getting a little overdone nowadays, so it's great to hear that there's a book doing it in a new, powerful way. I will definitely be picking this one up! It sounds like just my cup of tea =)

      Thanks so much for stopping by my site!


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