Author: Gina Damico
Genre: Teen, YA, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This book was... well crazy different.
It's a super ridiculous and humorous premise; that a TV network is going to send a group of teenagers into space and film it as a reality TV show. I really enjoyed the first 65% of this book. It was amusing, engaging, heartfelt and so cliche you couldn't help but laugh. The end however didn't quite hit for me.
Waste of Space is written in the format of video or audio transcripts (for the most part); either of the reality TV show, phone calls, unaired footage from the video cameras, or the mysterious intern that provides commentary every once in awhile. On page 1 we learn that the intern is the reason the footage is all combined in one file from so many sources. This format while easy to read is not always my favourite. We only get characters perspectives from their 'confessionals' to video cameras which makes it difficult to know if we are getting their genuine thoughts or more 'acting' out of their stereotypes. I prefer to be in the character's head and better understand their POV.
The teens are the main focus of the story; alongside the TV executive, Chazz. He's the over the top executive that calls all the ridiculous shots and seems to think that the world needs cutting edge, truly dangerous reality TV. Except that no one is going to sign off on their teenage being shot into space alone... so instead of actually going to space they make it seem like the kids are in space for the show. Oh, and the teens think they are also in space and on their own. A typical Lord of the Flies scenario.
The best part of this book is that the ridiculous fun of the first half is obviously a hoax. We, the reader learn this right away and of course most of the world buys into the silly premise (because people are easy to manipulate). Thankfully a few groups of scientists easily debunk the show as being in space, even if no one listens to them.
By the second half of the show I feel like the reader is suddenly the one being taken along for a ride. Suddenly we are trying to figure out what is actually going on as there is clearly more to this little charade than a fake 'space plane' and a celebrity hungry TV executive.
This brings me to the crux of what I didn't like about Waste of Space. It has an odd ending. It's not that it's bad... it's just... not what I expected at all. And not in the 'wow, I'm amazed' kind of twist. Instead in the I feel there was little to no foreshadowing for this ending and it's a bit cheap. I suddenly feel like Gina Damico took me, the reader, along for a similar ride that Chazz took the TV audience on in the beginning. A total and complete facade that barely explains what is happening.
The other thing that I found about Waste of Space is that it's a bit long... my ARC copy is 510 pages. I see that the published copy is shorter (400 pgs) so I'm hoping they cut down on some of the unnecessary dialogue between the teens on the ship. That said, the pages aren't fully text either, as they are in the screenplay dialogue style. So average words per page is significantly lesser than your average book.
Overall I thought Waste of Space was fun, but I wouldn't pick it up to read again. That said, if you have a teen that is a space geek and would enjoy a fun book I think this is a great pick. Also this is a clean book so you could give it to any child at the right reading level. I'd easily buy this for a 10 year old that has a higher than average reading level. And I'm certain that a 10-13 year old would be enchanted by the whole thing. Which makes me wonder just now... maybe I'm just a bit too old for this book (like 20+ years too old, lol). No matter what your age is there is no doubt you will need to suspend ALL belief to really accept this odd ending. But at least you'll have a good, fun time getting to it!
|Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.|