The Unidentified (Review)

Book cover for "The Unidentified" by Rae Mariz.Title: The Unidentified

Author: Rae Mariz

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 304

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Source: Borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) goes to school in the Game — a mall converted into a “school” run by corporate sponsors. As students play their way through the levels, they are also creating products and being used for market research by the sponsors, who are watching them 24/7 on video cameras.

Kid has a vague sense of unease, but doesn’t question this existence until one day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank. She follows the clues to uncover the identities of the people behind it and discovers an anonymous group that calls itself the Unidentified. Intrigued by their counterculture ideas and enigmatic leader, Kid is drawn into the group. But when the Unidentified’s pranks and even Kid’s own identity are co-opted by the sponsors, Kid decides to do something bigger — something that could change the Game forever.

It took me a while to get into this book. Maybe it was the premise of a school in a totally corporate environment, or maybe it was the format – there was quite a bit of twitter-like “instant messaging” between characters at certain points – but it took me a while to get comfortable with the characters.

Once I got into The Unidentified, though, I enjoyed the way Mariz set up the world of “the Game”. There was an attention to detail and a very strong cohesion between all the elements that made it seem more realistic, and helped to explain idiosyncracies of the characters that I might otherwise have found unrealistic.

The critique of technology, of popularity, social media, and corporate trends was rather apt, and probably my favourite part of the book. Sometimes, dialogue and pop culture references in YA books can feel a bit preachy, a little stilted, but not this one.

In the end, it was really just the way that the rebel group went about their activities that didn’t quite feel right to me. It felt a bit forced and clichéd, not as natural as a lot of other dystopian books. This is really what brought it down from a “must-read” for me to a “it’s still a really great book”. But even so, The Unidentified is still up there for me in terms of the dystopian books I’ve read.


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