Being slated has its drawbacks. Kyla has to wear a Levo on her arm, which monitors her emotions in a manner similar to an insulin monitor for diabetics. She must be constantly on guard to avoid extremes of emotion, which will literally cause her to black out. Those around her – teachers and her new ‘parents’ – are vigilantly watching out for any signs of odd behaviour that may be caused by her ‘criminal’ past. Too many signs, and she will be ‘returned’ to the hospital for a further slating. Maybe she will not come out again.
As she starts to adapt to her new ‘family’ and attend her new school, Kyla endures hostility from other students, who see her as a dangerous freak. She also begins to realise that she is unlike others who have been slated. Far from living the uneventful existence of the perpetually contented, she suffers horrendous nightmares – nightmares where she is tortured, and immured behind an ever-rising brick wall. She also comes up against the mysterious Mr Hatten – like her ‘parents’, there’s definitely something he’s not telling her.
She meets Ben, who is also Slated, and with the help of the reclusive Mac, who harbours an illegal array of computers, they start to dig behind the rhetoric of the government, and the sinister reasons for being slated. They also discover that it is possible to detach their Levos, although doing so causes excruciating pain to the wearer.
This is a gripping and absorbing page turner from an increasingly popular sub-genre of dystopian fiction for YA readers, where institutionalised mind-altering (and the effect it has on the reliability of the narrator) is a central theme. Readers of Mary E Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Michael Grant’s BZRK and James Dasher’s Maze Runner series will enjoy this fast-paced book that still takes time out to ponder some of the deeper questions about free will and personal responsibility for our actions. And above all, if it is ethical for a government to use any means of control to fight terrorism.