Access Restricted – Gregory Scott Katsoulis – Word$ #2 – Harlequin Teen – Published 28 August 2018
At the end of All Rights Reserved, Speth and her friends freed the city of Vermaine from Silas Rog and his oppressive litigation. But now, with the Wi-Fi untethered, the citizens of her city are looking to Speth to lead them. Just as Speth never intended to lead a rebellion of Silents, she has no idea how to begin putting Vermaine back to rights. All she wants to do is break out of the dome and track down her parents, who were sold into indentured servitude years before. Leaving the care of the city in the hands of her friend and mentor, Kel, Speth and a few friends embark on a journey to explore the rest of their world and spread the cause of freedom.
Access Restricted is the sequel to the amazing and scarily possible All Rights Reserved. With just as much action and intrigue, Access Restricted once again delves into a world where every form of communication is owned and fees charged accordingly, where history and knowledge have become propriety information only accessible to those with wealth and standing, where one girl unwittingly became the leader in an uprising, and where that girl must once again risk everything for a chance of a better future.
There has been much debate in my high-schoolers book club, who all adored All Rights Reserved, if a sequel was needed. The first book could, arguably, be concluded and left as it was. Others suggested they were happy with the ending, and that any more could possibly ruin the awesomeness of the first book. Others still, myself included, desperately wanted more -more of Speth, more of her accidental rebellion and uprising, and more explanation of the world in which she lives and the consequences for her actions. Would everything she had already done and sacrificed really change things? Had it really made a difference?
Access Restricted picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of All Rights Reserved. The WiFi is down in the Portland Dome where Speth lives, taken out when Speth blew up Rog’s tower. People are free from the system that controls and charges for every word they speak, every gesture they make – for now. The race is on to crack the DRM on the food printers so that the population doesn’t starve, and Speth knows that there will be people coming to seek revenge for her actions. Others, especially the groups of Silents, are looking for Speth to lead them, to tell them what comes next, but Speth just wants to flee with her sister to find her indentured parents. With a small group of friends, Speth manages to escape and for the first time see the world beyond the dome. But there is so much more at stake than her freedom.
Access Restricted continues the brilliance that is All Rights Reserved. One thing that continues to resonate with the many readers who I’ve seen devour this book is how very real it feels, how very possible, and that makes it very scary. And, as the author notes in his acknowledgements, it seems the world is ever marching towards this reality. In the first book, Speth started a rebellion with her silence. Now she has taken down the WiFi and Silas Rog’s control of the city, she has the power to speak and she’s not sure what to say. One thing I have especially loved about these books is Speth. She’s not hero material, not your typical amazingly gifted, ‘of course she’s going to save the world, she was born with that sole purpose’, chosen-one hero. Instead, she’s just a brave young girl who desperately wants to save her family and doesn’t know how to do that. She makes mistakes – some of which have cost her the very people she wants to protect. But she’s also clever. I love the way she pieces information together and creates solutions.
The first half of Access Restricted was a little hard to get into, not for lack of action, because there are plenty of high action and high tension scenes, but due to indecision. Speth isn’t sure what to do and the things she and her friends do do, happen mostly because they have no choice. But as they continue their journey outside their dome’s borders, a clearer picture of what America has become and why emerges. I enjoyed seeing the bigger picture and the backstory to Speth’s world and the Word$ system. The last half of Access Restricted was impossible to put down. As things heat up, as the tension mounts and as I despaired that there was no way it was going to end well, Speth, her friends and their determination and resilience never failed to amaze.
There are so many things I loved about this book, outside of the cleverness of the story, especially the focus on family and what it means, and that there is no romantic subplot for the main character. Seriously, and it doesn’t need it!
If you a looking for a YA dystopian with a difference, for a book that captures your imagination, and for characters that are both relatable and easy to root for, then look no further than the Word$ series. This unique and cleverly crafted duology is very highly recommended.
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: Language, rights, friendship, family, rebellion, copyright, property, slavery, knowledge, USA, freedom, siblings, consumers, law, social issues, communication.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: References to violence and torture via ocular and auditory implants. Occasional coarse language, f*** (2), sh** (3), as***** (1).
Published: 28 August 2018 by Harlequin Teen.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 304 pages.