Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

Tags: YA, dystopian, technology, networking


Katey “Kid” Dade feels out of place in the Game, the futuristic school run by Corporations that observe everyone for market research. While her best friend embraces the hectic, consumerist, public lifestyle, Kid isn’t as concerned that she doesn’t have a large number of people subscribing to her stream, or that she is absolutely mediocre by Game standards.

Then Kid witnesses an unauthorized act of rebellion by a mysterious group called the Unidentified and gets pulled into a type of game of its own. What does this group want from the Corporations? Will Kid get played by these groups, or will she and her friends find a way to overthrow the organizations that have an eye, ear, and hand on them at all times?


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that has impressed me, and so when I picked up and got instantly sucked into THE UNIDENTIFIED’s riveting and eerily familiar world, I was beside myself with happiness. THE UNIDENTIFIED is smart, well-written, and suspenseful, the perfect example of what dystopian literature should be: a fully realized and recognizable world without forgoing characterization and plot.

Rae Mariz impressively introduces us to a shocking and complex futuristic world, one in which privacy has no meaning thanks to the constant flow of information and technological interconnection. With Facebook’s recent introduction of the disconcertingly stalker-like “See Friendship” button, the issues regarding privacy that THE UNIDENTIFIED explores in such an entertaining and intelligent fashion are so much more immediately relevant. Rae Mariz succeeds in crafting for us a scarily plausible world that is possibly an inevitable extrapolation of the already network-filled world of Facebook and Twitter that we live in.

THE UNIDENTIFIED is smart, but it’s also hardly boring. Kid’s voice is fresh, with just the right amount of quippy attitude. She’s the perfect balance of the observant outsider with the propensity to create change, and the gullible market to which the Corporations are pandering. And Kid’s not the only interesting and well-developed characters. Her two best friends, Ari and Mikey, light up the page with their very different personalities whenever they appear in a scene. Even more minor characters are fully realized with their limited “on-page” time. The characterization is really an incredible accomplishment for a 300-something page book, which most might even consider short for modern dystopian novel standards.

I really wish I had the capacity to speak more about THE UNIDENTIFIED’s marvelous critique of the infiltration of networking websites in our lives. But I’ll leave that to the academics, and just let you know that this book does it, along with providing us a highly unputdownable adventure. I don’t think I can recommend this book enough. READ IT if you’re looking for smart and snappy dystopian literature.

Similar Authors
Cory Doctorow
George Orwell

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - I think it was designed to be disconcerting. The genericness of the face (so unlike how I imagined Kid's) superimposed with the bar codes...creepyyy.

Balzer + Bray / Oct. 5, 2010 / Hardcover / 304pp. / $16.99

Copy borrowed from library.


  1. WOW. Kid's world is one that I can actually imagine becoming real one day. In fact, I can think of a number of students who would almost prefer that type of world for a while. This is the first I've heard of The Unidentified's, but I want to read it asap!

  2. Oh yay! Glad you loved this one. I nommed for the Cybils!

  3. oh wow, I can't believe I'ce never heard of this one before! and I adore dystopians! thanks for the wonderful review, this is now on my tbr :)

  4. Thank you for the review! I've heard so many positive things about it, I definitely must check it out. :)

  5. Man, I was leafing through this on in Borders today and put it back on the shelf. Now I have to go back and get it! UGH, seeing Lenore loved it too...perhaps I'll get it for my Nook instead.

  6. I've never heard of this book but I am definitely going to check it out now. It looks really good.

  7. The Unidentified sounds brilliant. I've had this one on my wish list since I noticed it on a WoW post back in may, I thought it sounded good.

    Wonderful review, Steph Su :)

  8. I'm surprised that so many people loved this book. I just finished it last week, and wasn't very impressed. I felt like Kid just wasn't a compelling main character. And I felt like all the new vocabulary really bogged down the book.

  9. What a great review! I finished reading this yesterday, and you put in words my thoughts better than I would. This book was even greater a surprise to me that I hadn't heard much about it before reading it. One of my favorite this year.

  10. I have not even picked up this book yet. Yikes. I'm falling way behind!

  11. Sounds great, I need to read this book, I love this genre! It reminds me a bit of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld too ( i love that series)

  12. I read and reviewed this book, too! I really liked it, although I had a few minor issues - def. a good read - a very smart one!


  13. Glad to see this! I just started it this morning and was worried after seeing Emily's review.

  14. I LOVED this book. I read it and reread it. It is not a quick short read like 1 hour book like Magic Tree House series book but a quick book as in you're hooked and can't put it down at night and will stay up until 1 AM in the morning in order to "finish your page" and there is so much going on that it makes it even harder to put it down. I LOVED IT!


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