Title: Flash Point
Author: Nancy Kress
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication date: November 8, 2012
Genre(s): Young Adult (Dystopian/Sci Fi)
Format: Physical ARC
Oh wow, Flash Point was not what I expected. I tend to always check goodreads and read a couple of non spoiler reviews of books I am starting right now and what I found was that there barely was any reviews. However, what convinced me was the review written by Gabby from Chapter by Chapter (Review here). So while I was excited from reading Gabby's review, I was also a bit wary from the lack of reviews as well as the review copy being around 500 pages long. Even with that, I really liked the idea of the book and it being a reality tv show, Who Knows People, Baby—You?, gone horribly wrong during a time of the greatest economic depression. Writing this review, I can say that Flash Point wasn't just entertaining, but it was full of twists, shocking turns, and a great mix of dystopian and contemporary.
Amy, the main protagonist, is 16 years old and lives in a time after a disastrous economic and financial collapse that resulted in her scientist grandmother to lose her job, her life savings, and their house. Amy's parents are both dead so she lives, along with her 15 year old sister Kaylie, at a shabby sorry excuse of an apartment with her grandmother. From the beginning of the novel you instantly hate Kaylie. Kaylie is the ungrateful little sister that not only refuses to help out but also gets in tons of serious trouble that Amy ends up cleaning up after. I felt sorry for Amy, but at the same time I would have went ballistic on her, but Amy always made up excuses for her behavior. To put it bluntly, Kaylie was a jealous little kid that always resented Amy even though Amy was the person who brought in an income that kept them afloat, even if barely.
Moving on to the reality tv aspect of this book. Amy gets picked out of thousands of people for this show where she, and 6 other people, are put in scenarios that are all based on holograms (yes, this is set in the future), and then people vote by predicting what each contestant will behave or react, based on 5 choices given to the voters. At the beginning, the scenarios were pretty harmless but soon enough they began to spiral and turn more realistic and dangerous. This is when Amy starts to doubt her place in the show but because of her sick grandmother and the full medical insurance the TLN station provides, Amy has no other choice but to bear with it. I really appreciated how Amy was selfless and did everything she could for her grandmother and ungrateful sister. Some of those scenarios were dangerous but she stuck through with it. I really felt total sympathy towards her and admired her courage.
There is one thing that Kress introduced to the novel but barely explored and it is the phantoms that Amy experienced that showed the true intentions behind a person's actions. I still don't get the real reason behind them or their place in the novel. Also, Kress barely gave any mention to when Amy's grandmother died and based on how much Amy did for and how much she loved her grandmother, it was very anti-climatic. The same could be said for the ending, but that could be overlooked.
As for the other characters and contestants in this novel, I loved that each one was pegged off as something but at the end of the novel, you really get to find out who they really are. Some totally contradicted your initial judgement such as Cai, while others were exactly as you thought, like Kaylie. The Antagonist, the producer of TLN, definitely got what she deserved by the end of the novel and I loved that everything wrapped up nicely without any dramatics and rushed conclusions. Honestly, with this long review, I barely delved into all that I wanted to discuss, showing you guys how this novel had so much going on but at the same time everything was linked and tied in together. However I have to point out that there is a ton of swearing so this novel would be better suited for mature YA readers. Therefore, I definitely recommend this novel to fans of books similar to The Selection and lauren Conrad's L. A. Candy but with less romance. This is not like The Hunger Games in any way, contrary to what people think. I can't wait to read more books by Nancy Kress in the future!