All Rights Reserved

400p. (Word$: Bk. 1). Harlequin Teen. Aug. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780373212446.
Gr 8 Up—In this inventive dystopian sci-fi debut, when people turn 15, they must begin paying for the words they speak or write and for the gestures they use to communicate. Every word is trademarked, restricted, or copyrighted, and some words cost more than others, leading many to go into debt. Those 15 or older must wear an irremovable Cuff that records everything they say and do and pays the Rights Holders. Speth is about to give her 15th birthday speech as a rite of passage when her boyfriend commits suicide in front of her rather than pay off his family's huge debt. This compels the teen to rebel against society's rules by becoming silent, which means no money for the corporation that's making billions from people's speech. Her seditious act incites a media frenzy and sparks a movement called the Silents. It threatens to disrupt the system, but the cost for Speth and her siblings Saretha and Sam is very high. Speth is a sympathetic character for whom readers will root, but her experiences are often unrelentingly grim. Since she narrates the book and doesn't speak aloud to others, readers may feel distanced from the other characters. The ending is a bit anticlimactic given the exciting events that preceded it.
VERDICT Between the clever premise and the protagonist's stand against a repressive society, Katsoulis's work is timely and will appeal to fans of Dan Wells's Bluescreen, M.T. Anderson's Feed, Cecelia Ahern's Flawed, or Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies." Purchase where sci-fi and dystopian tales are popular.

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