FICTION

Slated

345p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16172-8.
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Gr 7–9—In 2050 London, young criminals are "Slated"-their brains wiped clean of all memories. They relearn how to walk and talk in a hospital rather than a prison. Though Kyla is 16, her new family (Mum, Dad, Slated older sister Amy) will teach her that stoves are hot and traffic is dangerous. Kyla's Levo, a permanent wristband, will monitor her moods, beeping if she gets distressed and, in the worst-case scenario, disabling, and even killing her if she turns violent. Those who favored law and order thought this would solve the problem of gang violence and terrorist attacks. Kyla avoids the Slater Haters on the bus, goes to school, attends group meetings, and makes friends with fellow Slaters Ben and Jazz. Then her nightmares return, bits and pieces of a past life begin to surface, and calming mechanisms like eating chocolate or going for a run fail to bring her levels up to normal. Though the Central Coalition shows only happy news, and the militaristic Lorders maintain control, Kyla learns of a darker side of society. She comes to question the true uses of Slating and how people are chosen to undergo the procedure. Terry's debut novel treads familiar dystopian paths of controlling government, rebellious teens, and romance in a community where strong emotions are deemed unsuitable and dangerous. Slated has some lovely turns of phrase, a plot that speeds by, and a cliff-hanger ending. The terrain may not be new, but this book will attract many readers.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
This fast-paced thriller offers an interesting twist on the popular dystopia genre and introduces important questions about the nature of good and evil. The Levo bracelets that Slateds are required to wear will intrigue teens dealing with volatile emotions. Whenever Kyla’s “levels” drop because she is upset or angry, the Levo buzzes a “gentle warning vibration.” Kyla must eat a piece of chocolate, go for a run, or otherwise find a way to control her emotions so the Levo doesn’t cause her to pass out. Narrator Kyla’s inability to accurately judge anyone she encounters (“Mrs. Ali [Kyla’s teacher] had seemed so nice, and then wasn’t, at all. And Penny [Kyla’s group therapist] was so annoying when I first met her, but now I feel like she is on my side.”) reinforces the book’s themes about the complexity of individuals—and that no one is wholly good or bad. Readers will be startled by a last-minute revelation that changes everything they know about Kyla’s personality and background, and leaves Kyla wondering “How can this be?”

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