Dystopian · review · young adult

All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

“I made the sign of the zippered lips, and I silently vowed I would never speak again.”

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Blurb: “In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, victim shaming, assault and drug use.

In a world where words and gestures are trademarked, the reader is introduced to the protagonist – Speth – who is approaching the age in which she is fitted with a cuff and starts being charged for every word she says and every action she makes. The initial concept of All Rights Reserved is terrifying in itself because it’s an ideal that is all too easy to picture in our own world. Right’s holders can charge a pretty penny for adjectives and a shrug higher than 2cm can cost, people are taken to Debt Collectors for copyright violations that happened years ago and involved their ancestors. People can be sued simply for looking like someone else. The word “sorry” will cost $10 and is classed as a legal admission of guilt.

As listed above, there are a few triggers throughout the story as characters feel trapped by their conditions. Please exersize care and make sure you’re in the best space to read this book because it doesn’t hold back.

All Rights Reserved is an interesting twist on the “dystopian rebellion” trope as normally the protagonist is fighting to make their voice heard. Speth chooses on her “last day” to zip her lips and refuse to speak. I’m not sure where I expected the story to go, but as the book is narrated from first person, the reader doesn’t get to see much of the rebellion. Speth becomes quite isolated as refusing to make her speech means that she can’t make purchases, have a job or get into most establishments because she can’t agree to the Terms and Conditions. A lot of what’s going on outside of her home is explained through her siblings calling out her behaviour and alerting her to news reports. Because of this, I feel like the plot slows down an awful lot and becomes quite a slog to get through. It picks up in the last quarter but it’s quite a struggle to get there.

Speth is by no means the first to rebel against the proverbial system: many other teens in her class read their speeches on their last day and haven’t spoken since. What makes Speth different is that she never read her speech; the first words she must say when she has been fitted with her cuff. It’s sort of like signing a contract.

This is a book with a thrilling premise but the execution falls short.

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