I’m a sucker for sci-fi books. I love space soooo much so when I read that this book was “set in space” AND was a reality TV show, I was all for it. However, reading the blurb didn’t exactly give away what kind of read I was in for…
Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.
So this book is very satirical. It makes jokes about the world of reality TV and how it works, it jokes about how reality TV game shows always adopt tokenism, so they always have the token black individual or gay individual… This book plays on the ideas that reality TV always has the stereotypical individuals. Some people may not see that this book is satire and think that the stereotypical characters of the book are offensive because they tick every box in the ‘stereotype’ list. BUT! That is not what Damico is doing here. She is taking the p*** out of reality shows, how they come up with their ideas, how they script the episodes and how they choose their cast. I thought it was very clever, but I didn’t know that this was a satirical book. I went into it thinking that it was quite serious. So sometimes the satire got a bit too much for me, the jokes that Chazz Young made got a little too cheesy. But there’s a strange underlying message: how far will producers and writers go to get those high rating and viewership? Well in Chazz Young’s case: there isn’t a ‘too far’. He will do ANYTHING to get the ratings, even if it borders on barbaric.
I was all for the NAWSAW company at first. They always told Young when his ideas were ridiculous and when he had gone too far, they alway tried to put him in his place (and failed), but towards the end of the book, I was like… WWHHHHAAATTTT??!! I did not see the plot twist involving NAWSAW coming and to be honest, that whole story arc came out of nowhere. I mean the whole ending was pretty cool and everything but I just didn’t understand what had happened. Ok, well I knew what had happened, but nothing was explained, through any of the characters. Or is that just me missing something completely huge that was obvious to everyone else?
“I’d get up in the morning, and when I stretched out my arms, it felt like my fists were banging into an invisible barrier, a bubble around my bed. It was suffocating. I couldn’t breathe.”
– Gina Damico, Waste of Space
What I really liked about this book was that it was that the story was told in loads of different formats. There were video camera footage, transcripts of the episodes, transcripts of phone calls and other fascinating formats. It was very similar to that of Illuminae and Sleeping Giants. I love it when author adopt this story-telling method because it always adds another dimension (HA, see what I did there?) to the book and it always seems more interesting.
Apart from the characters being stereotypes (the rich, obnoxious kid, the nerd, the quiet one, the odd one, the gay one, the clever one and then the party animal), I thought the characters were really well-rounded. Sometimes, you couldn’t help but laugh at the stereotypes and how much Damico played on them, but other times, like the character of Bacardi, I was utterly surprised when I realised that I really loved this character. She was just absolutely amazing. I hated Clayton so much. Every time he opened his mouth, I just wanted to shut it. Every word that he spoke was just utter rubbish and he was so self-centered! I’d had enough of him the second he was introduced. I felt so sorry for Kayou as well! She’s Japanese and she was only cast because she was from another country, but no one else could speak Japanese so she would be talking and no one could understand her! It was so sad, but some of the things that she said were just hilarious! Her sarcasm was unreal and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at certain things she said.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable book. I’m not 100% sure if I would read it again, but if there ever was a sequel, I would definitely read that!
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review