author: Gregory Scott Katsoulis
series: Word$ #1
published: 29 August 2017
publisher: Harlequin Teen
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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, for every nod, for every scream 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. Rather than read her speech—rather than say anything at all—she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again, sparking a movement that threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.
This book was everything I want in a dystopian novel. For me, this genre needs to scare the hell out of me with believable implications. All Rights Reserved did that for me. Was it extreme? Absolutely. But it wasn’t so extreme as to make it unbelievable. It was entirely possible to see a future like the one in this books, and that is what made it a perfect dystopian read.
The novel takes place in the future, in a society where literally almost everything is copyrighted, trademarked, or restricted. Words, gestures, ideas, everything. For the simple act of speaking, one must pay an ever changing price per word. Hugging, kissing, shrugging… all chargeable. The only people who are free of it are those under fifteen. But on their birthdays, that ends.
Lawyers rule the world in every practical way, capitalism at its very worst. And those who can’t pay are essentially forced into indentured servitude to the government. Added to that is a series of laws that make citizens legally responsible for the actions of their ancestors.
One of my favorite things was that the author used the copyright, trademark, etc. symbols throughout the book. It was a detail that underscored the reality of the world within. It was mind-boggling how total the capitalist control was over society. And that social commentary has real implications, which is more than a little terrifying. Between consumerism, capitalism, and the ever rising amount of litigation that occurs within our own society, it is impossible not to recognize the warning that this book has created.
If, like me, you love a great dystopian read that will terrify you, this is that book! I highly recommend it!
- 2020 Dystopia Reading Challenge