Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford.
But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech – rather than say anything at all – she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.
This was a book that I added on my TBR after hearing him speak about this book back in September at Boston Teen Author Festival. The way he describe the premise it was if it was an episode of Black Mirror, that really causes you to think about could this really happen.
The book begins when Speth decides to protest the system that requires payment for every word spoken by simply not speaking at she does so by zipping her lips at her speech ceremony when she reaches of age. It is also noted that the only reason why she has the name, Speth was because it was a very cheap name that her family can afford.
It also was a very risky move by having a protagonist who spends most of teh book not speaking because it could have been difficult to connect with her charcater, but Gregory Scott Katslouis made it so that we were able to connect with her. When she makes the bold act to not speak or communicate, it heavily affects those around her. Most of friends stop speaking to her because of it. Speth is one of the better YA female protagonist as she wasn’t in it to be the hero, only
I also think that the world building was pretty well handled. The beginning of the book or basically the prologue gave us everything we needed to know about the world which was the copyright page for the book as well as the state of Vermaine, where the story takes place. This was also a very different dystopian novel because it adds a lot of social commentary about communication and speaking. Even the act of kissing could cost someone.
I did feel some of the pacing in the book was a bit slow, it really didn’t pick up until the middle of the book, when you find out that Speth has sort of started a rebellion in which other people started to not speak as form of protests against the system. The main villain of the book is Silas Rog, who is one of the partners of the law firm that came up with taking every word and putting a patent on it. While he was a good villain, I do feel that he should have been a bit more fleshed out.
As I said earlier, it did feel like an episode of Black Mirror because it allows a commentary on the notion of communication and how much we take it for granted. Some of the cost of communication includes:
Two seconds of screaming costs $1.98
A request to Desist costs $8.99
A charge of Assault costs $14.99
And expressing your Scorn costs 36.99
Also communication is tracked through the cuffs people wear, and if someone can’t pay their fee they would be in a sort of debtors prison. It really handles the moral of “Words matter” really well.
In the end, All Rights Reserved was a great book that I enjoyed reading. While it did have some pacing problems, especially in the beginning, it was made up for a great protagonist in Speth, and social commentary on communication. I am very excited to see where this series goes.