Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review - Slated by Teri Terry





Another recent arrival on the YA dystopian scene, Slated is set in a particularly harrowing future world. If you're under 21 you're not allowed a mobile phone: the horror! Slated's protagonist, Kyla, has recently had her memory erased, apparently because she has committed a terrible crime. Being 'slated' is seen as a second chance for Kyla, and she is taken in by a family to attempt what is deemed to be a normal life. 

The proviso is that she must wear a 'Vevo': a device which monitors her emotions and prevents her from committing further acts of violence. But Kyla's rehabilitation will not go to plan. She is plagued by vivid nightmares, and unlike other 'slated' teenagers, her Vevo is not controlling her so effectively. Meanwhile, things are unravelling around her too. People are disappearing from her school, and Ben, a cute boy and fellow 'slated', might be getting mixed up in something particularly dangerous...

The narrative pace of Slated is seriously impressive. Effective page turning hooks reel the reader in from the get go. As with many dystopian books, the dangerous world Terry creates is scarily plausible, and conspiracy and intrigue abound. A sense of menace builds throughout, and things build to a powerful climax which will doubtless have fans looking forward to the sequel.

Unfortunately, I found the narrative style of Slated to be frustratingly poor. Terry tends to tell a lot in her descriptive passages (she's better at dialogue). Whilst it's true that you can get away with more tell in YA, and you should perhaps even use it more than you would in other genres, being told how to interpret Kyla's thoughts and feelings is alienating after a while. On top of this, Kyla is such a tortured, self-analytical character that she ends up asking herself questions every few lines. Nothing wrong with this in itself, but three of four times a page? Gets a bit too much, I'm afraid.

It's a shame as the story is a good one, as is the world Terry has built. I have no doubt that Slated looks set to be a success, and in many ways Terry, who wrote nine books before attracting publisher interest with this one, deserves it. If only Slated had the style to go with its excellent premise: in many ways, the bar for what is accepted as 'well written' needs to be raised in the YA dystopian genre. 


2 comments:

  1. As you say, the premise sounds fabulous but having the main character being so introspective and constantly questioning herself rather beats the idea that the m/c should be strong and decisive even if she is flawed. I rather like that if you're under 21 you can't have a mobile phone :-)

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  2. Yep, it falls in to the first person trap of being a bit too solipsistic. Nothing wrong with self-doubt, Hamlet was full of it after all, but all the questions she asks herself about what she should be feeling, and how she should interpret what's going on around her...tell, tell, tell.

    Wonder why you like the mobile phone idea so much...;)

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