All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis – Word$ #1 – Harlequin Teen – Published 29 August 2017
Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford.
But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech rather than say anything at all she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.
All Rights Reserved is a clever and timely dystopian novel that introduces a world where speech and communication is controlled and monitored for capital gain. It is scary in its portrayal of a future world that is all too possible. With characters who quickly garner the reader’s support, All Rights Reserved is a highly thought-provoking novel.
Speth knows that at the exact moment of her fifteenth birthday every word she says, every gesture, every move of affection will be monitored, recorded, and she will be charged accordingly. But when her friend suicides just moments before her Last Day speech, Speth is horrified and knows no other option than to remain silent. She unwittingly creates a silent revolutionary protest. But it is hard to lead a revolution when you have no plan and can’t communicate. With her family falling apart around her Speth knows she must never stop fighting if she is to save herself and her family, or if she is to hopefully affect some change in her society.
This book captured my imagination. It’s one thing to have a dystopian novel where characters are forced to kill each other for entertainment of the population – sure that might happen – but a world where everything is copyrighted, a world where you can sue someone with a touch of a button on the electric cuff wrapped around your wrist? – now that is something I can totally see happening. It’s scary!! Everything in this novel was just one step advanced from our current technology and politics. Houses are now printed, as is food. There is a stock market for words. The polarisation of wealth has increased. The Cuffs that control Speth and her friends’ every word and moments are not that far removed from the bands and watches available now that monitor everything from movement to heart rates. Scary! And that’s exactly why this is such an important book.
This book is a important conversation starter. As a society, we need to discuss how we want our world to look like now and in the future and it is important to consider how every little step now impacts that future. Copyright, food production, technology, privacy, censorship and surveillance are all key themes raised in this book.
Injustice makes me all sorts of angry, and there was so much injustice in this book. At times it felt claustrophobic. The book is truly evocative. I felt as if I was right there alongside Speth, who has no way to communicate, no way to protect her family, no real options, no plan. At times I was frustrated by this lack of a grand plan. Just when things seem to move forward or Speth has an idea it always peters out or it is unobtainable. But I suppose this is highly realistic of Speth’s situation. There is no shortage of tension and heartbreak in this novel. There is also plenty of action to supplement the storyline.
All Rights Reserved is a timely and important book and a very worthy addition to the dystopian genre. I can’t wait to share this with our readers, and while the ending is satisfying, I know that the Word$ series has so much more to offer.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Genre: Science-fiction- Dystopian
Themes: Consumerism, language, freedom, capitalism, speech, friendship, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Mature themes – multiple suicides. Occasional mild coarse language, assh*** (1).
Published: 29 August 2017 by Harlequin Teen.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 400 pages.
ISBN: 9780373212446, 0373212445