Title: The Bar Code Tattoo
Author: Suzanne Weyn
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: The Barcode Tattoo (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 0545470544 (Scholastic)
ISBN-13: 978-0545470544 (Scholastic)
Reviewed by: Kayla
Individuality vs. conformity. Identity vs. access. Freedom vs. control. The bar code tattoo.
The bar code tattoo. Everybody’s getting it. It will make your life easier, they say. It will hook you in. It will become your identity.
But what if you say no? What if you don’t want to become a code? For Kayla, this one choice changes everything. She becomes an outcast in her high school. Dangerous things start happening to her family. There’s no option but to run . . . for her life.
Individuality vs. conformity.
Identity vs. access.
Freedom vs. control.
The bar code tattoo.
Quick & Dirty: A girl refuses to follow the crowd and ends up joining a rebellion.
Opening Sentence: Outside, rain drummed against the window.
Everyone is getting the Bar Code Tattoo. No one over 17 doesn’t have it. Except Kayla. The United States, like many other countries, is controlled by Global1, the company that created the Tattoo. As the tattoo controls more and more of their identity, Kayla joins a small rebel group at her school, dedicated to inform the public about the consequences of getting the bar code. But when someone inside betrays them and Kayla’s mom becomes more frantic to get the bar code off, Kayla is forced to run. While searching for the rebel group in the mountains, Kayla runs into many people, both friend and foe.
I wish this book was longer.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book (not only because the main character’s name was Kayla), but I had a hard time connecting to it because scenes were not fleshed out and the plot kept moving when I wanted more. If this book had another 200 pages full of good writing, I would have rated this higher. But since it has boring writing and a plot that skips weeks in one page, I did not enjoy the book.
Okay, so good things first: I like the overall plot arc. The world of Global1 and their control of the world seems realistic as technology advances. I like the main character, Kayla, who is just about the only dynamic character in the book. I like the setting of the United States. This goes back to the whole arc of the story, but the world building in this book was pretty good.
On the other hand, most of the good things listed above were poorly executed. Although the overall idea of the story was good, the pacing was awful. The book can be split into three parts: before running, running and after running. The “before running’s” spacing is sooo slow! Almost nothing happens until she joins the rebel group. It’s all world building. “Running” was very repetitive. She finds someone to help her, they send her on her way. And every time she finds someone, it’s in a restaurant after escaping in the woods. The “after running” skipped so much! Weyn just lists the stuff she does, saying she repeats it and then suddenly we’re skipping weeks of character development! Kayla changes and grows after every encounter with a new person, but if we don’t see her as she grows, it makes the book boring.
Now the worst part of the book: the love interests. I cringe every time I think of them. I give Weyn props for unpredictability with Zeke, but Mfumbe is a static character. He never changes. He’s always there for Kayla. He has no problems (as in, he never shows any other emotion besides loyalty, even though he’s also on the run.) Both loves are instant – or at least seem instant because the story jumps ahead again from when they meet to when they say those three words (which also annoys me because she has only known both for a month or so before they confess their love.)
Overall, I would not recommend this book. Although by the end of the book it gets more interesting, there is nothing in the beginning that begs you to turn the page or even care about the characters. There’s a major cliffhanger at the end, but honestly I didn’t really care.
“Hey, Mom, I got a job,” she spoke bitterly to the sleeping figure. “Isn’t that great! Yeah. I knew you’d be excited.”
Entering the kitchen, she found an egg in the refrigerator and scrambled it. There was no bread for toast. Fortunately, a box of saltines had been overlooked. Saltines and eggs – egg, actually – wasn’t a bad dinner. As she ate, she surveyed the messy kitchen and considered cleaning it.
The phone rang. “Hello?”
On the other end, someone emitted an anguished sob.
“Amber? Is that you? Amber? What’s wrong?”
Bar Code Series:
FTC Advisory: Scholastic provided me with a copy of The Bar Code Tattoo. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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