July 3, 2012

Slated: A Close-Up Review

"Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?
" (from Goodreads) 

Slated by Teri Terry


I really liked Kyla's character and voice for most of the book. She's quiet but tenacious, and shy sometimes but she doesn't care what other people think. Her mental/emotional toughness is admirable; while she may get upset when provoked, she's not whiny. Kyla's also not afraid of speaking her mind on occasion (even to authority), but at the same time she doesn't make a big deal out of it or show off. The fact that she's Slated provides a bit of a weakness for her, in that she might not know some things that most people do. She also develops a little as a character: at the beginning, she may be smarter than the average Slated but she's still coming to understand her world and herself, and settling in. As the book goes along, she becomes a stronger person who is more aware of the importance of keeping secrets. And at the end, her character takes a turn that you might just find unsettling.

It's interesting to see adults of various ages present in the story. There are a couple of college-aged characters, Mac (aged 22) and Amy (aged 19), as well as Dr. Lysander, Penny the nurse, Mr. Gianelli the art teacher, and of course Kyla's "parents." The mom really grew on me, and I liked how she turned out to be completely different from how Kyla saw her at first. The adults here are not trustworthy by default, and you might find yourself questioning the motives of more than one individual.

Most of the side characters, even if they don't play a major role, don't feel flat, but there are a couple exceptions: Ben and Phoebe. Phoebe seems to be a pretty stereotypical "frenemy," and Ben just didn't stand out to me amongst the sea of YA love interests — he's your standard good-looking nice guy who takes an interest in the protagonist and wants to help her. I thought he needed more personality; Ben is rather bland, and it didn't feel like there was a whole lot of chemistry between him and Kyla. Those readers who despise love triangles will be happy to hear there is none to be found here, however!

Teri Terry has a complicated set-up going on here in Slated. There are lots of different groups and organizations involved: the scientists, the government, the terrorists... and then, of course, there are the Slateds. I'm quite dubious about the actual Slating procedure; I find it very difficult to believe they've completely wiped memories of everything (declarative and procedural). There does seem to be some research indicating connections between handedness and memory, so perhaps Teri Terry is not too far off, but memory is known to be a murky business that has outwitted psychologists for a long time. I'd certainly like to know more about how memory retrieval is explained in this society, and how the Slating procedure fits into this.

I thought the concept of the Levo — in essence, an emotion monitor — was pretty cool, but I have my doubts about its scientific believability. How exactly does it work? If it's reading various biological indicators like pulse rate, how does it distinguish between excitement, fear, and rage? I liked the fact that she has to keep the level up by various means of increasing her endorphins (like by eating chocolate), since this did make some sense to me. 


This book is brimming with secrets, not the least of which are secrets about Kyla's past that she doesn't know, given the whole memory-has-been-wiped scenario she faces. I thought the use of the "knowledge is power" theme and the gradual revealing of information was well-done, as it kept the tension pretty high throughout, despite the fact that there's not a lot of action. Admittedly, the pace is rather slow-moving, but there are plenty of clues along the way to draw the mystery out. Kyla's dreams do a good job of giving hints about her childhood without giving too much away.

The revelations towards the very end were not explained well enough for my liking, and presented in a way that is more coincidental than I think the plot deserved. I would have liked more answers — and not just vague, "half-answers" either like the type we see here. After such a long build-up, it wraps up hastily on an unsatisfying note that doesn't live up to the rest of the book. I know there's a sequel coming, but I wanted a better explanation. The one we are given may make sense to Kyla, but it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me!

I actually had my own theory for why Kyla was different from the other Slateds, and I thought it was rather clever, so I was a bit disappointed to discover that it wasn't the same as the author's (at least as far as I could tell. The whole thing wasn't explained all that clearly, so perhaps my theory is still tenable). Spoilery, highlight to read: since memory access is apparently linked to handedness, my theory was that when Kyla was Slated, the people performing the procedure didn't realize she was ambidextrous (or originally left-handed) because she'd been forced to use her right hand when the fingers of her left hand were broken. So they focused the lesioning on the left side of her brain, as though she were right-handed. Thus, when she draws with her left hand, this triggers repressed memories because it activates the right side of her brain. Makes sense, right? But instead the explanation given seems to point more towards Kyla having dissociative identity disorder and an alter-ego being behind the repressed memories.

Writing style:

I had a few problems with the writing style. Kyla's internal monologue becomes somewhat repetitive — she is constantly going over things in her head, trying to figure out what everyone knows, and this rehashing gets frustrating at times. Just generally, I think the whole thing could have been shorter — it clocks in at 440 pages, after all — with some of the similar conversations and repetition removed.

Final verdict: 3.5 shooting stars. 

Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC for review from the publisher.

This book counts towards my goal for the Debut Author challenge.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds good, the premise, characters and plot pacing. Thanks for review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


I love comments, so post away!

Related Posts with Thumbnails