Keep it brief; Gregory Scott Katsoulis’ All Rights Reserved Shows Us a World Where Every Word is Owned, Trademarked, and Monetized
By Hannah Carmack, Creative Content Coordinator
So you devoured M.T. Anderson’s Feed? You couldn’t resist Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother? The next book on your reading list should be Gregory Scott Katsoulis’ All Rights Reserved. Newly released, this young adult thriller explores a dystopic future where no word –or person- is free.
Logline: Birthdays are supposed to be a special time, filled with presents, parties, and friends, but for fifteen-year-old Speth a birthday means a Cuff. Cuffs are special devices designed to pick up every shrug, sigh, and conversation Speth will ever have and then charge her for it. But, when her best friend commits suicide on her own birthday, Speth takes a vow of silence. That act will spark a bigger rebellion than she ever could have imagined.
Product placement, celebrity debutants, crazy lawyers, this book has it all! But Katsoulis doesn’t overwhelm the reader with dense background information or exposition. Katsoulis steeps his reader in his world for just the right amount of time, before sending them straight into the action-packed, suspenseful plot.
The characters that inhabit the world feel human, constantly making mistakes and not always owning up to them. Speth is a morally ambiguous and complicated heroine who is sure to compel young readers with both her selfishness and her selflessness. Her siblings and friends make for a realistic supporting cast, forced to support Speth, even if they don’t always understand her. Arkansas Holt, Speth’s inept lawyer, gives the novel some much needed comic relief.
All Rights Reserved is the perfect book for discussing the evolution of language, the study of linguistics, and the importance of literature. It is also an excellent resource for introducing concepts of monetization and copyright law; a number of characters are sued for using copyrighted haircuts, clothes, and food. These concepts of copyright and intellectual property laws will be key for students as they consume and create things online.
The world of All Rights Reserved also has a lot of cool new technologies that you could use to spur engineering design challenges or to prompt students to imagine new technologies that would impact their own lives.
The book is bleak at times and easily earns its young adult status. Certain situations to be mindful of include: a suicide, an attempted sexual assault, and the murder of a young adult. That said, the book offers a slew of ethical discussions and gets readers thinking about the power in what they say. I’d recommend it for any reader who is hungry for a dystopia filled with injustice, flashy tech, and –of course- resistance.