­HarperTeen. Sept. 2019. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062803627.
Gr 7 Up–In the near future, trust in the media is implicit. Before she died, Merriel “Meri” Beckley’s mother was her hero and role model, an artist for the City Pride Department whose goal was to beautify Chicago and inspire the community. But everything Meri knows about her world is thrown into doubt when she sees a man being arrested for possessing paper, something that authorities have declared obsolete but not actually illegal. In the wake of this bombshell, Meri embarks on a path to discover the truth about the paper and her mother’s sudden death. Meri’s suspicions that all is not right are confirmed when she gets a piece of paper herself with an unfamiliar word on it: verify. When she looks up the strange word, an error code appears, along with the police. Meri is a complex protagonist, struggling with both the death of her mother and her father’s drinking to cope with the loss. The characters Meri meets along the way encourage her to grow, while her best friend Rose is her only steady support system and sounding board.
VERDICT The Matrix meets 1984 in this page-turner about a teen faced with the choice to opt out or delve even deeper

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