Friday, January 6, 2012

Unison Spark (fiction)

A perfect world made just for you,
optimized to provide everything that you want,
more realistic than real life.
What could go wrong with that?

Future Friday takes us to sprawling Eastern Seaboard City, where the Haves can access the ultimate social network - Unison - and the Have-Nots are relegated to the below-street slums, with its rampant crime among the scabbed-together shacks and cast-off technology bits.

Mistletoe can engineer and coax her hunk-of-junk scooter into maneuvers just beyond the maximum recommended for that old model - good thing, as gun-wielding topsider goons pursue her and lost Ambrose through Little Saigon's alleys and hidden passageways. Why would any sensible topsider come down here?

All good things do have their price
, and some revolutionaries think that the price of Unison will far exceed its subscription costs. Can the teens trust the revolutionaries or UniCorp or anyone?

How far is UniCorp willing to go in its search for maximum profits? Can they truly predict every individual Unison user's ultimate needs through process-flow? When does the will of an individual become merely a consumable piece in a worldwide business plan?

This page-turning potential future is available now at libraries and bookstores - grab it!

Book info: Unison Spark / Andy Marino. Henry Holt, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: When Mistletoe saves a young topsider from uniformed non-police thugs, she wonders why this wealthy teen is in the grotty lower city. She certainly can’t go up into his world of real sunshine and Unison – the social network that knows you better than you know yourself.

Ah, Unison! Just shimmer in (for an appropriate fee) and enjoy limitless data flow, countless friends, your own custom-structured world for work and play. Everything is clearer, brighter, happier in Unison – as long as you keep paying your subscription. And UniCorp provides all the little things in the real world that make it less painful to be part of the “fleshbound parade” of humans during those so-long moments of being out of Unison.

No one can predict process-flow as well as teenaged Ambrose, who is chair of UniCorp’s profits division well ahead of his older brother Len. Ambrose will today move into Unison permanently, when surgery to his hypothalamus will eliminate his body’s need for sleep and give him 24 hours a day in Unison to maximize profits for their father’s corporation.

A rogue data-transfer message as he enters the UniCorp building tells Ambrose to go down into Little Saigon now, before the surgery, or his brain and dreams will be siphoned away by… who? Len? Their father? Revolutionaries? Contrary to best process-flow data, Ambrose flees for the subcanopy’s depths.

As Mistletoe and Ambrose escape through Little Saigon’s grimy alleys and tunnels on a puttering old roboscooter, they discover that both received the same rogue message “Carpe somnium” and wonder why they’ve been told to “seize the dream.”

Bombs in a world where explosives are illegal, closed off from the data of Unison and allies in the subcanopy, the teens must stay alive and free as they try to discover who’s trying to keep Ambrose out of Unison and why the data message brought them together.

Clever and suspenseful, Unison Spark is an adventure story of the future which threads questions of self and community through its action-filled pages. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.


  1. I love those dystopian novels & will put this on my TBR list. It sounds great. It's fun to see you finding those books that don't get a lot of words on the blogs.

  2. Thanks, Linda - there are so many YA great books that don't have the benefit of a huge 'publicity machine' to promote them.

    I write recommendations for readers, not for selectors, trying to get the right book in the hands of the right reader.

    Hope that you and your students visit often and find more great books through the labels list (over there in the right sidebar).

  3. I am so intrigued! I have just put Unison Spark on my list. Thanks for reviewing!

  4. Annie, this one does make you wonder just how much "living" we should really do online....

  5. Ooh, this sounds like one that my students and I will all enjoy! Can't wait to check it out!

  6. I love YA books and so glad to have found you through the blogger comment challenge. Great idea and thoughtful reviews are wondrous things to find.

  7. Glad y'all dropped by! BooksYALove is my way to connect the right book with the right reader (once a librarian...), so I hope that you find all manner of "right books" here.

  8. I've really been enjoying YA fiction lately (though I'm no longer a YA myself, I have YAs at home, and sometimes these classifications are market driven anyway). YA sci fi particularly appeals to me and Unison Spark sounds like a really enjoyable read.

  9. I do like future YA. I'll have to check it out. Mistletoe as a name is weird though.

  10. @Magdalena, I think YA fiction-enjoyment is a state of mind, not an age range! (I'm only a "young adult" in comparison to the snowbird-retirees in this RV park!)

    @Dorine - Mistletoe didn't like her name so decided to call herself this: typical teen behavior, even in the far future...

  11. GReat review, with just enough plot and world view to tempt us in! Am intrigued by the possibility of now sleep and like the retro hunk-of-junk scooter!

  12. Okay, now I'm definitely adding you to my feed reader. Two books I'd never heard of that sound great.


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