Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, Delecorte Press on July 24, 2018
Source: the Publisher
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In this terrifyingly timely tale for fans of The Eye of Minds, a teen and his group of friends find themselves on the run after using a genius lie-detector contraption to expose their corrupt government.
In a Putin-esque near-future America, the gifted and talented high school has just been eliminated, and Sam and his friends have been using their unexpected free time to work on a tiny, undetectable, utterly reliable lie detector. They're all in it for the money--except Theo, their visionary. For Theo, it's about creating a better world. A BS-free world, where no one can lie, and the honest will thrive.
Just when they finish the prototype and turn down an offer to sell their brainchild to a huge corporation, Theo is found dead. Greedy companies, corrupt privatized police, and even the president herself will stop at nothing to steal the Truth App. Sam sets his sights on exposing all lies and holding everyone accountable.
But he and his friends quickly realize the costs of a BS-free world: the lives of loved ones, and political and economic stability. They now face a difficult question: Is the world capable of operating without lies, or are lies what hold it together?
NOTE: I elaborate on some of my issues with this book at the end of my review. It is a little spoiler-ish. I will give a heads-up for when to stop reading/scrolling if you do not wish to know more.
I was ecstatic when I got an ARC of this book because I thought it was going to be full of commentary on the most pressing social and political issues of the past four years. Well, it was, indeed, full of commentary, but I had a few issues with the flavor of commentary. First, the commentary felt passive-aggressive. Second, it was non-constructive. Now, I know that this is a science-fiction young adult novel. But when a writer tackles serious issues that are currently impacting the lives of almost EVERYONE in the real world, I think the author owes us a little more than just a social media technology-drenched dystopian thrill-ride.
That being said, I enjoyed the book (haha). It was clever, fast-paced, and action-packed. The storyworld and plot were (unfortunately) utterly believable and the characters were mostly relatable. The supporting characters are colorful scene-grabbers that make the story pop off the page and give it a live-action film quality. Sam, the male protagonist, is, however, a less colorful and more complicated character. My feelings were conflicted about him and how the author handles his storyline. Sam is a smart, insecure, naive guy–all likeable traits–who is forced to reveal some unsettling and, to be frank, ass-hat decisions he made in the recent past. By the end of the book, I didn’t know if I liked him or if I wanted to kick him in the nads.
I was also questioning why the author would choose to kill-off the character–Theo– who is typed as the “idealist” because he cared about people outside of his social circle and envisioned a world where governments didn’t have to be corrupt. What is the author saying here? Is he implying that working towards a better world is ultimately fruitless and a bad idea??? *Shrugs* As you can tell, I *may have* over-thought this book and the intentions of the author. It happens.
Ultimately, the story was a fun and intriguing read. Intriguing because I felt like I was reading the outcome of real-life past and current events. I think I would create a critical analysis or reading discussion questions about this book before recommending it to teens or other adults. It would make for a fantastic book club discussion.
WARNING!!! SPOILER-ISH STUFF BELOW!!! (But not too spoiler-ish, really.)
I wanted to address some of my main issues with this book. First, this is the type of book that you go into thinking that will have a certain agenda. Mainly, an agenda that you will agree with. But it’s hard to reconcile the premise of this book with the author’s choice to cast America’s first female president as an authoritarian, Russian-colluding, heartless bi-atch. It was definitely a WTF?! moment for me in the book when this was revealed. So, this aspect of the book made me question the author’s agenda throughout the entire story.
Second, our main character admits to some perverted-stalkerish voyeurism and it’s played off like typical male teenage behavior. Let’s not normalize that shit anymore than it already is in our “boys will be boys culture”. Do people deserve redemption? Yes. Should the author have addressed all the reasons why the MC’s actions were effed up? YES. But that never happens.
Lastly, the story raises a doozy of a question: Is lying sometimes acceptable–in every level of the social spectrum–in order to preserve the public good? Infuriatingly, the story doesn’t leave us with any constructive ways to contemplate this question. If you are a history buff, it will remind you of how the American government rationalized the Japanese internments during WWII.
Okay, rant over. As you can tell, I was seriously conflicted about this book. I liked it and was infuriated by it at the same time. Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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