Author: Sarah Mussi (Twitter, Website, Facebook)
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Hodder Children's
Genre: Young Adult - Thriller, Dystopia
Synopsis via Goodreads:
It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.
The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.
The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.
The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.
But it is all so blatantly unfair - the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won't.
It's time for the young to take to the streets. It's time for them to RIOT:
OUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE, OUR BODIES, OUR FUTURE.
Riot takes place in 2018 which is only four years from now. With that said, there are a lot of parallels to real world events that have or are currently taking place. (Which is why I feel it's almost realistic fiction versus dystopian.) You see elements from the roles social media and the internet have played in citizen uprisings (Arab Spring, Egypt, etc.), the use of "hacktivist" networks to rebel against corporate and government entities, and the increase use of citizen surveillance. (Are we sure this didn't occur in the U.S.?)
Riot keeps the plot moving with thrill from the first page and skidding into the last. Not to mention the chapter header quotes leading us into the next twist. It felt like a mix between Criminal Minds intros and voice from the modern day Anonymous. I was so caught up in the plot I was really wondering how it was going to wrap up. Needless to say it did wrap up quickly and I felt incomplete, but entertained.
Meeting our main character EVE/Tia Thomson, as both an elite "hacktivist" and the privileged daughter of a high ranking British official, was an interesting dynamic. I do like that Tia understood her privilege, which led her on the crusade to save the underclass from becoming "fixed". What did not settle well with me was the impression that her real motive was to stand up to daddy and show her independence versus really getting in the trenches with the people for the "issue". While the character did acknowledge her naiveté of government operations and wide spread influences, I felt like Tia never grew past her betrayal to know what being hungry, homeless or childless means. What I did like about Tia is that she was not dainty and she is computer smart! This girl will climb, jump, take a hit and keep on trucking. It's so hard to find female characters who are strong in technology or science fields so the feminist in me was happy about this. For what she lacked in traditional heroine qualities and emotional strength she displayed in physical toughness, problem solving skills and will. She's someone I'd pick for my hooligan crew, even if I was secretly jealous of her BMW.
Last but not least in YA we all want to know about the lover. While I wouldn't classify Cobain as a lover, he is clever, street smart, has a bad boy edge, and stunning green eyes. There's so much potential here to develop his background and more depth into how he became Britain's most wanted, but sadly I'm found wanting more. What I did enjoy about Cobain is that he was always honest and acted sensibly to protect those he cared about. He is definitely our voice of reason and keeps Tia on track in the crusade to the British people and herself. See? Guys aren't always reckless and carefree. Tia and Cobain's interactions are refreshing in the sense that they are not automatically assumed, over dramatic or unbelievable. I would've like his point-of-view, especially in the last few chapters. ;)
Overall I enjoyed Riot and recommend it for reader's interested in cyber crimes, government conspiracy, social justice and civil rights issues.
3 Stars - It's a good book, I enjoyed it but was not in love with the characters or other story elements.