Sunday, December 11, 2011

YA Review: Scored by Lauren Mclaughlin

Scored by Lauren McLaughlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My ACT score was in the 20's.
Nobody cares about that anymore.

My GPA has always been "above average"
No one wants to hear about it.

My life has been carefully controlled by grades, scores, ratings and rank since before I was even aware of it, all under the premise that if I scored well enough, the finances that I didn't have wouldn't matter.  That without these scores, I was doomed to only achieve the levels my money would allow.  The rich children would have better opportunities, but the well-scored could always level the field through merit-based scholarship.

Recently, I've begun to monitor my Klout score.  Klout is an algorithim calculations based website that monitors your social media influence.  Higher scores reflect the amount of people on the web that value what you talk about and share.  Companies use these scores to pinpoint the best people to help market their products.  For instance, a high klout score with an emphasis on Cars, may get you a free week-long test drive from a car company.

On the surface these things sound AWESOME.  No more is it about "who you know", or "what you have", but it's about YOU.  Who you are.  What you do.  Fair and impartial, technology does the work that humans have failed at.

That said, let me just start this review by admitting that the most chilling thing that hit me almost immediately, was that Imani, our main character's "score" in this book is 64...

My Klout "score" is 64.

We're ALREADY scoring and charting and tagging ourselves into a fresh new caste system.  One where everyone is "better" because no one is.

Oh my gosh where do I even begin.

Imani LeMonde is a member of the Scored.  Like most of the other scored in her high school, Imani abides by Score Corp.'s "Fitness" guidelines: Peer Group, Self-Control?, Congruity, and Rapport.  She violates the Peer Group requirement flagrantly by hanging out with her friend Cady.  Cady's score has been dropping drastically low due to her love affair with an unscored boy.

Imani wants to stand by her friend, but when her own score drops down to the 60's, the decision seems practically made for her.  Low scores equal no college, and she has to go to college.  The guilt by association stems so far that her own little brother won't let the "eyes", cameras that document and monitor the scored, see him talk to her.

In the meantime, her History teacher, Mr. Carol has assigned an essay project that could help Imani get the money she needs to go to college anyway.  To apply for a scholarship, Mr. Carol would like for the scored students in his class to write an argument against the idea of the score, and for this unscored students to write in favor of it.  While he himself is firmly against the score, and makes some hilarious comments on it throughout the book, he mainly believes this will open the eyes of all of his students, and perhaps get them some college money.

To write the paper, Imani secretly and reluctantly teams up with Diego, an unscored but wealthy classmate, and soon everything she thought she felt about the score, and herself begins to shift.  There were mild similarities to Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" series, spying, trusting the enemy, friendship and betrayal, but Imani and Cady's relationship was far more of a catalyst for the rest of the story, than the radically flimsy one of Tally and Shay in Uglies.

There were things about this book that I loved, mainly the ideas behind it, and that there were no real right or wrong answers.  A score system could even things out, but it could also open the door to much more sinister forms of discrimination. A new caste system that would appear so right on the outside, that people won't even know where to begin to tear it down.

There were also a few little things that I didn't like however.  For one, Imani is a mixed-race girl, but the cover art doesn't illustrate this at all.  The subject and comparison between racism, sexism and "score-ism" is referenced a lot in the story, but I still found it really easy to forget about her heritage.

In fact, this brings me to another thing that bugged me.  Imani Jane LeMonde's father is black, and his speech is littered with "Don't's" "Aint's", phrases like "family don't mean nothing no more", and talk of "The Man"...
Seriously, was that to remind us that he's black?  I was not a fan of that.

The phrasing used by her father wouldn't have stood out if the other words and writing in the book weren't all so thick.  The subject matter wouldn't necessarily go over teens heads I don't believe, but the words used get a little technical and over-political at times.

Like others have said, the ending left MUCH to be desired.  It did however, seem prime for a sequel but unlike all the other books out these days, didn't say that it would be.  To not revisit this topic though, would be seriously unfortunate.  I hope she does.On the whole though, I really enjoyed this short read.

While I mildy enjoyed McLaughlin's Cycler, I found this to be more her stride.


0 people wrote some stuff:

Post a Comment