Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Book Review - Riot

Author: Sarah Mussi
Genres: Dystopian | Young Adult
Release Date: 1st May 2014
Publishers: Hodder Children's
No. Pages: 352
Source: Review Copy - Hodder Children's
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
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.

This book and/or review may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due its use of language, sexual content, drug and alcohol abuse and/or violence. Please bare this in mind before reading.

Very rarely do I come across a book that zones in and targets British culture to the point where I feel so in sync with each of the characters and to the world they live in, but Riot is one of those rare occasions. However, before I get into the nitty gritty of this review, I've seen other reviews that rated this book less than I have because they didn't and couldn't understand some of the language used, insulting the language and dismissing their own lack of knowledge in British slang as the books fault, not their own, so if you're not blessed with speaking fluent British slang and aren't willing to spend 10 minutes just scanning a list of them and their definitions, then trust me, this book is not for you. This book is also not for the faint of heart. I shall begin.

I'm not going to beat around the bush, the book starts with the scene of a young boy getting 'the snip', which to you and me is getting a medical treatment done to stop him from reproducing; it's gruesome, it's cruel and in my personal opinion, it is wrong on so many levels and in so many ways, lets just say that opening prologue will flush out the people this book is written and designed for, and those who won't give it a chance. Once we get past that utterly shiver inducing opening scene, Mussi thrusts the book head strong into a protest march, which are pretty popular in Britain, and we finally get to meet the young protagonist in this story, Tia, also known as EVE. Tia for me was a brilliant character; she knew her rights, she knew her opinions and she knew what she wanted to fight for, and she didn't just fight for herself, she fought for so many others too. Yes, her character could have done with thinking less and acting more, and with a little more polish around the edges, but I loved that she didn't have that polish. I really came to relate to her and understand why she felt what she did, and why she chose the actions she did. She may not have been one of the most developed characters I've ever read about, but that girl had courage, strength and some balls to go up against her Father and government like she did. I didn't however appreciate the routes Mussi took that enabled Tia to become the 'damsel in distress' when she did, and I understand that it was done in order to strengthen the little romance she was creating, but in truth, I don't think it helped much in the way at all; I honestly think the romance was quite steady and subtle enough as it was, there was no 'instalove', there was no 'you're beautiful, why can't you see that' soppy stuff you get elsewhere, it was as simple as two teens, fighting for what they believe is right, and coming to like one another, and I mean like, not love.

For me, what won me over entirely was the whole idea behind the book and the plot twists that occurred. As somebody who is British born and bred, I understood perfectly the whole reason behind the NoMoreChildrenInNeed and the HANDSOFF sides to this book; Mussi created a near future where the population of people on benefits has risen to an alarming state, were there's more money come out of the system than going in, and that's exactly what Britain already looks like today. Everyday on the news I hear about there not being enough school places for children, how the benefits system is being taken advantage of, and how the poor are targeted while the richer of the population get a free pass and Mussi took it to another level in Riot and I loved it. It covered the nature of riots and how they can be orchestrated by people in a higher power, it highlighted the barrier between those in the poorer areas of the country to those in the higher and how the gap between them continues to increase, and it highlighted how even in the most private of places, especially online, someone somewhere can be tracking you, watching you, following your every move and it was a real reality check for me personally. When it came to the HANDSOFF protests, I could really relate to the people involved, and it challenged my beliefs and made me question the ethical and moral implications of their actions; yes, some parts weren't as flushed out and developed as they could have been, but they were good enough for me.

Riot wasn't perfect; the use of American slang such as the ATM's annoyed me, as did the lack of grief Tia showed towards the end, and while the ending the was a little cliche, I liked it overall. This book had a unique quality about that I seriously loved; I loved the unplanned action element, the slow burn romance that developed and the revelations that showed themselves and answered a lot of my questions were well received. This book will be very and hit and miss for many, the swearing, the language, the shocking scenes that show humanity at it's worse and the way it questions your belief in government and their systems won't be pleasing for everyone, but it was definitely a hit for me, and I'm so glad I gave it a go.


  1. Great review! I recently read another review of this, which wasn't too good, but they weren't British so that probably didn't help. I think slang can make books difficult to read for those who don't understand it. I can't make my mind up about this one, I do go back and forth. I think it's one I will probably read ONE DAY, but am not in a really big hurry to get to it.

    1. I've seen a lot of reviews for this book that aren't too hot at all, lost of people not liking the slang, the world or the set up, and I can understand that because sometimes I struggle with completely American set and themed books, but I'm definitely a fan.
      I think if you're unsure, it might be worth waiting until you're completely sure. Thank you though :)


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