(Cover picture courtesy of Random Buzzers.)
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 happen to her family. There’s no option but to run…for her life.
I’ve heard a lot of great and terrible things about this book in the YA community. Again, this prompts the question: Is it worth the hype?
Well, not really.
Much like Matched, it is an average book, but nothing more. It’s not fantastic and it’s not terrible, but it falls somewhere in between. An interesting dystopian society, a decently paced plot and an okay cast of characters…yet there is nothing really exceptional about The Bar Code Tattoo. Some aspects of it are Orwellian, others remind me of that documentary Food Inc. and still others remind me of The Giver. Suzanne Weyn is a competent enough writer, but she doesn’t really stand out for me.
The Bar Code Tattoo is set in a dystopian future where the fears of right-wringers, left-wingers and centrists come to pass. For the right, it is the scary amount of government overreach and a complete lack of respect for the Constitution. For the left, it is the fact that the poor are pretty much left to fend for themselves while corporations take over America. As for the centrists, all this will scare the crap out of them. This is why I admire Suzanne Weyn’s dystopia in an odd sort of way: it combines the fears of all political spectrums into one decently built future.
Kayla is a decent enough protagonist, but is nothing really special. To me she’s pretty much your stock dystopian protagonist: she sees nothing wrong with the society until something happens (like falling in love or someone close to her dying) to make her into a rebel. Highly predictable. The plot is decently paced, but I could predict every plot ‘twist’.
I give this book 3/5 stars.