October 20, 2013

Book review: The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn

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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 happen to her family. There's no option but to run . . . for her life.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

The theme of freedom from a Big Brother entity is common in dystopian fiction, and The Bar Code Tattoo is just the latest in the line of such books that I've read. Unfortunately, nothing about this book stands out. The source of this society's problems, the titular bar code tattoo and the global company behind it, doesn't seem so scary compared to other dystopian threats. To me, there's nothing more nefarious about these tattoos than what we already have today with credit reports, browser cookies, and companies like 23AndMe. The problem is that everything the main character feared could still come to pass without bar code tattoos.

The characters and dialogue were also bland, as if they were written by a high school student. At least there wasn't (much of) a love triangle, but the relationships in this book also happened so easily that I wondered if the author was trying to simplify it for young kids who might be reading the book.

The topic of The Bar Code Tattoo carried a lot of potential. However, the execution was botched with the underdeveloped level of story telling. This is really a 2.5 star book that's rounded up to 3 stars.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: The Cave Man by Xiaoda Xiao.

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