Author: Blythe Woolstoon.
Zoe is the last girl of her class, the last living person in her suburb before it closes down, and possibly the last living – rather than simply existing – girl. When her mother leaves for another job, Zoe must move on to her own job at AllMart, where her smile is the welcome mat. It’s the same job as hundreds of other young adults. Surrounded by the consumerism of the huge stores, drugged both literally and figuratively, and trapped by the conditions she agreed to when she signed on, Zoe begins to struggle to realize what this is about and what living might really be like.
This not-so-futuristic dystopia was strange, confusing and yet interesting, in many ways. Overall, the plot was disconnected and jerky, dropping whole side plots and ignoring unexplained things. But taking the book as a whole, I think the author made a deliberate effort to make it more like real life as part of the effect. Our life, where often nothing comes of promising events, where too often little makes sense and there is no real closure.
Our Main Character, Zoe, is often as confused as we. She’s just trying to survive as bars close in and chances she never thought about vanish. For the first part of the book she’s strangely emotionless and compliant, showing very little reaction to strong events. However, after a certain plot revolution, this begins to make sense, and Zoe herself begins to change. This only makes her journey harder. Once you don’t accept your life as a corporation’s possession, once you begin to think happiness might be more than the physiological effects on your body caused by smiling, it’s much harder to ride the current.
The one-sentence review summary: A much-too-close dystopian world where a girl must make her choice to live, not exist, to choose growth over closure, under confusing and even horrifying circumstances.
Sexual content: Scene opens with a character in a class called Sexual Responsibility, but no class content is actually shown. Character knows her mother wasn’t married. A kiss. Some innuendo. Character needs to find tampons. Character finds out the implant she wears is supposed to, among other things, ‘reduce libido in girls’. A news channel with a female anchor is several times described as focusing on her chest. One girl feels physical attraction to another girl. A man secretly videos a woman naked in her own house.
Language: 9 scatological terms, 6 d***, a rude hand gesture
Violence: Character shoots and kills birds. A character stomps on a mouse and kills it. Character falls down with a glass jar and is badly hurt. Character punches another in the face. Character is tasered. A deer crashes into glass doors and is killed. A man bitten by a snake dies. One character shoots, and kills, another.