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Flash Point by Nancy Kress

Flash Point
by Nancy Kress

Flash Point

By: Nancy Kress

Release Date: November 8, 2012

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.

 

Review: After reading 500+ pages, I have to ask. WHAT THE HECK ARE PHANTOMS?!? Can someone please tell me? Kress set up the beginning by making a big deal out of these things, and I guess they kind of lead Amy into her decisions, but I can’t tell if they’re voices in her head or shadow-like things. And the book alludes to some genetic code, but I’m not sure if they’re some sci-fi thing or paranormal gift. And for something that has such a significant impact on Amy, they disappear for a good chunk of the book and probably make one appearance near the end of the book. So you never find out what they were and the significance of them.

The second thing is I never understood the concept of the The Collapse. I mean, from reading the summary and from certain things that Amy’s grandmother said, I guess I’m right to assume it’s some sort of The Great Depression 2. Still, this book really, really lacked in world building. I don’t think I ever really found out what caused The Collapse (other than assumptions of a “failed economy,” whatever that could mean. And you know that Amy and Rafe, among others, struggle with money problems, but the rest of the story is based on lavish hotels and designer clothes, only offset by protestors. You don’t really find out what the world is like, who everyone was affected by it, dangerous streets with heightened crime, even the rats don’t seem like they help build that world.

Now I LOVE pretty much all dystopian. The concept had potential, but the plot just didn’t play out well. I was interested in this book because it seemed like some sort of weird mix between The Survivor (reality TV in possibly dangerous settings with the survival of the fittest), popular game shows and maybe a little bit of The Hunger Games. Instead of being intrigued by their challenges, I was almost bored. And some of the more dangerous situations gave me hope, but then the fire/shooting scene and squirrel scene were not as breath-holding or heart-stopping as I expected them to be.

Maybe it was because I thought the characters were kind of flat. During the interview, Amy had that defiant streak that the producers thought were going to cause problems. Where was that streak during the show? Okay, so Kress decided to make Amy the weak character that “doesn’t do anything,” according to her “fans.” Why change her from a defiant person to a do-nothing girl? So she was looking out for her grandmother’s interest, okay. She became mad at the situation pretty quickly, yet she does nothing. I had expected more from her. And when she FINALLY does something, it wasn’t as great as I had hoped for. I was like, “That’s it?”

Honestly, Kaylie, Waverly and even Violet were too predictable in this story. I can see where Kress attempted to throw twists in there, but honestly, they just didn’t work. Because in the end, the three were just looking after themselves.

Cai was a really predictable character, and he was a huge letdown because I expected him to change, but he never did. Tommy was an unusual character to throw into the mix, but Kress didn’t do anything with his character. I had already expected the end, but I didn’t see there wasn’t a changing point in the book to allow it to make sense. An Rafe was such a colorful character, and I had really high hopes for him. And I’m always a sucker for the nerdy guys, and there were times that I really wanted to swoon over him. But I don’t think Kress treated his character well at all.

And the end was just so anticlimactic. Usually in dystopian types of books, the characters usually leave the story with somewhat of a renewed feeling – that they’ve accomplished something and are ready to face whatever is in stored next. And I guess you can say the villains got what was coming for them, but the big reveal and takedown just wasn’t as climatic as I was expecting. Yes, everyone changed, and the reunion was nice, but I just didn’t feel like any of the characters really walked away “winning.” Not winning as in the good guys conquered all, but that satisfaction that the overcame the obstacle. Does that make any sense?

Overall, I thought this book had the potential to be really great. But it was just okay. And I just had too many problems with it – I couldn’t connect to any of the characters, and Kress introduced concepts that were never explained.Combined with the length, I was just ready for the story to be over.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

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