Reviews for Flash Point

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
Sixteen-year-old Amy isn't eager to be on a reality show, but she needs the money, especially with Gran's illness. The Collapse has put most of her dreams on hold, but getting a job with medical benefits becomes one of them. The show, a sort of low-rent Hunger Games, brings together a group of kids, puts them in crisis situations, and asks the audience to vote on what they will do. Kress, a respected sf writer, is at her best coming up with scenarios to challenge the teens and show the shifting alliances. Several of the characters also intrigue. But there's a lot going on here that is never fully integrated into the narrative. The Collapse-induced riots sometimes seem like background noise: a presidential assassination barely gets a mention, and a corporate merger seems an unnecessary complication. What this does have, in spades, is a high-energy momentum that will keep pages turning--sometimes just to avoid the political backstory--but mostly because readers really will want to find out what happens to their faves. Just like on a reality show. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #1
In an idea-packed near-future thriller, reality TV pits teens against increasingly deadly virtual traps. Amy Kent is only 16, and she's bone-weary of the responsibility of supporting her resentful younger sister and terminally ill Gran. But the global economic collapse has left most people in desperate straits, so when Amy gets a chance for good pay with family medical benefits, she grabs at it despite her doubts. As one of seven teenagers on Who Knows People, Baby--You?, she is under constant camera surveillance that allows viewers to compete to predict how each cast member will respond to unexpected situations. But as ratings pressures and political tensions mount, the scenarios become more dangerous, and Amy and the rest become less and less certain of what is staged, what is real and whom to trust. The theme of corrupt adults manipulating youth into violence and death to entertain a decadent audience will inevitably invite comparisons to the Hunger Games trilogy, as will the breakneck, twisty plot. The day-after-tomorrow setting, anchored by brand-name allusions and crises ripped from the headlines, adds both eerie familiarity and terrifying plausibility. Most striking, though, is the complex characterization, with its emphatic insistence that no one--hero or villain--is anything less than a complicated mixture of good and bad, strength and weakness, compassion and selfishness. While the adrenaline rush will draw readers in, it's the unsettling question posed by the program title that will linger. (Science fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #3

It's Fear Factor meets The Running Man by way of the 99% in this tense drama, Hugo and Nebula-winning SF author Kress's first book for teens, set in a near-future America after "The Collapse" brought widespread disease and poverty. Sixteen-year-old Amy Kent, desperate to provide for her family, signs up to star in a new reality show, Who Knows People, Baby--You?, in which contestants are exposed to stressful situations in their daily lives while viewers vote on the possible outcomes. As the scenarios become weirder and more dangerous, Amy and her fellow contestants find it increasingly difficult to tell what's real and what's staged, who's legitimate and who's a studio plant. Soon, they're risking their lives--all the while tempted by popularity, success, and ever-higher bonuses--but economic riots and desperation threaten to push everyone to the breaking point. Sadly, the concept of this exploitative reality show is entirely believable, as is the financially ruinous setting. Strong characterization rounds out this unsettling thriller, although the resolution lacks oomph given all the buildup. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 9 Up--Amy, 16; her sister; and their sick grandmother are just barely making ends meet since the "Collapse." Amy works a low-paying job to cover the rent on their rundown apartment. When she stumbles into a job interview at a television station, she's offered a spot on a new show called Who Knows People, Baby-You?-complete with a cash advance and full medical benefits for her family. In this new reality show, viewers vote on what they think the six participants from vastly different backgrounds will do in each new situation presented. The voters can win large sums of money for being good judges of human nature. But for the teens on the show, waiting for the next surprise scenario to unfold becomes extremely stressful. As interest in the show reaches a fever pitch, producers will stop at nothing to get the ratings they need, even putting the contestants in grave danger. This is a high-interest book, but the high page count will scare off reluctant readers. However, for those who get hooked, it is a real page-turner. Several of the teens on the show are true individuals, easy to remember and realistic in their responses to the scenarios. With the moral dilemmas it poses, both in interactions among the teens and on the part of the station's adults, this would be an excellent novel to prompt discussions about reality TV and ethics.--Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ

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VOYA Reviews 2012 October
The Hunger Games meets American Idol in a mash-up that strives to offer a little bit of just about everything. Amy is recruited to be a contender on a new, horrifically titled reality series, Who Knows People, Baby--You? Audience members call in and vote how they think Amy and her competitors--including nerdy Rafe, hunky Cai, conniving Violet, and clever Waverly--will respond to stressful scenarios, like a mugging or swarming rats, in order to win significant amounts of money. Amy's on the brink of poverty in a social uprising, her grandmother is dying, and her younger sister, Kaylie, is behaving like a spoiled brat who only wants to be famous. But the first challenges are tame, so in an effort to boost ratings, the show's execs up the game Kress's strangely addicting novel is a lot like the reality shows it apes. Amy is a strong heroine who provides a much-needed center in the midst of a lot of hidden agendas, backstabbing, and social commentary. Most of the truths Kress shines light on are not particularly new--reality television exploits people, good looks are not everything--but Amy's efforts to raise money to look out for her family will draw readers in. Kress does not take the seamy underside of such programming quite far enough in an apparent bid to throw in as many trendy young adult elements as possible. Ultimately, there is little substance to remain with the reader once it is time to change the channel.--Matthew Weaver 3Q 3P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.