By Rae Mariz
Published by Balzer + Bray
Copyright © 2010
What if Coke, Revlon, Taco Bell, and Apple ran the school systems? Wait don’t they already? Okay, what if they had complete control because they provide all the funding? It’s an extremely interesting question and “Unidentified” gives us a picture of it that eerily isn’t too far from what the reality would be.
15 year old “Kid” goes to school in the Game. The Game is an old mall that was converted into a high school which is run and funded by corporate sponsors. It is called “The Game” because instead of boring lecture like classes, students learn by playing games, completing searches, or watching movies. There is a price for having this much fun though, the corporate sponsors monitor the students by way of video cameras and keep track of their social networking pages in order to conduct market research. Students who prove that they are “trend spotters” can end up being “branded” or personally sponsored by companies and receive serious loot.
Kid is low-profile, she doesn’t much care if she was branded or not. She just likes hanging out and making music with her friends, Ari and Mikey. When Kid witnesses a slightly scary and realistic looking anti-corporate prank perpetrated by the “Unidentified”, her curiosity is stirred and she needs to know who they are and what the prank was supposed to mean. Her quasi-detective work leads her into a game of deception and backstabbing and she isn’t quite sure who to trust. Should she trust her friends, the corporations, or the Unidentified? The answer will definitely surprise you.
“The Unidentified” is a riveting story of teenage angst coupled, corporate greed, social networking, and suspense. I love this book because it is a pretty accurate look at the youth of today where social networking and having the right brands are all important. To me it is uncanny how close Mariz has gotten to what could happen. I mean, even though it is a work of fiction, it would not surprise me to see this happen to our educational system in the near future. Children and teens are already exploited by greedy corporations and media companies; a complete take over are the obvious next step. In addition, the Mariz describes the inevitable backlash and the fight for a personal identity and private life.
There is some mild language and some rather close euphemisms to beware of in this book so I would probably recommend it for youth ages 13 and up.