Do our experiences, and thus our memories, make us who we are? Or are we born with innate personalities? This is one of the questions raised in the thrilling book Slated by Teri Terry.
In the not too distant future after a series of demonstrations that led to riots and some terrorist acts, England is now controlled by a dystopian government. Any adults who commit a crime are imprisoned or killed, but children and teens are given a ‘second chance’ by ‘slating’ them, which is a process that completely wipes their memories clean. It’s not just that they don’t remember their names, families and where they are from; they awaken from the process almost like coming out a coma and have to even learn how to walk and speak again. Their rehabilitation process not only includes basic functions, but they are taught to think the way the government wants them to, before being sent off to live with their new moms and dads, who are strangers. In order to make sure they are truly rehabilitated, the Slated wear Levos, which go much farther than a home monitoring device that tracks where they are. The Levos monitor their emotions. If a Slated gets too distressed, sad or angry, the number on their wristband drops. If it drops to a certain low number, they face a severe headache or will blackout. If they hit the most dangerous number, they will die. And like any good rehab, the Slated, must attend group therapy sessions weekly where they share their emotions and experiences with other Slateds.
From the very beginning there is something different about Kyla. At night she experiences severe nightmares that make her wonder if it’s a nightmare or memories of her former life and although her Levo numbers drop when she is sad or distressed, when she is angry they actually go up, a fact she realizes would put her in danger and so she hides it from her new mom, dad and sister, as well as her psychologist and even her new love interest, Ben, another Slated. And there is much for her to be angry about, from mistreatment by other non-Slateds, to her realization that other kids are disappearing who have not committed criminal acts Kayla struggles to hide her reactions. Her biggest fear however, is herself – just who is she? Is she a terrorist who was responsible for killing other kids? Or is the truth even worse than that?
This was a real page-turner. My only criticism is that I have to wait for the next book in the series.