Scholastic. Sept. 2019. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338283570.
Gr 8 Up–A dystopian society is structured around a social rating system that judges its citizenry based on daily behavior, leading to abuse and marginalization. Noah, Javi, Bex, Hana, Tamsin, and Chase all attend the same high school and join forces to solve the mystery behind a cryptic graffiti message discovered on the front of the school that said the ratings were not real. Leaning more toward character-building than traditional dystopian world-building, the characters grow as they navigate their diverse worlds of anorexia, parental alcoholism, socioeconomics, learning disabilities, and LGBTQ issues, making the book seem more realistic than dystopian. The ratings system is revealed over time. It segregates society’s citizens by municipal and health services, neighborhoods, schools, and grocery stores. While readers will easily connect with the interpersonal struggles of the protagonists, many will question the vagueness of the world and how it came to be. Some might wonder how the peer-to-peer, teacher, and community ratings all seem to have the same weight. In addition, readers might also wonder who oversees the control factors, since ratings can be administered through individuals, large groups, and online.
VERDICT Fans will not experience the same impact they got from the reading of traditional dystopias such as Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, or Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies. They will, however, question the path that present-day society is traveling down and speculate whether the story is reflective of their unavoidable future.

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