Flash Point

( 6 )

Overview

Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she's right to have them. TLN's Who Knows People, ...

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Flash Point

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Overview

Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she's right to have them. TLN's Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
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. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142427460
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 11/14/2013
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 980,617
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.44 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Kress has won multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards for her science fiction. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Trapped in a reality TV game show unlike any other...

I'm Alex Everett," the bald man said. "Before we do the rest of the introductions, let me explain for those of you who still don't understand what you're doing here." He winked at Amy, who kept her face as blank as she could manage. "You lucky seven have been chosen from hundreds of applicants for Taunton Life Network's newest show, Who Knows People, Baby—You? Myra Townsend and I are the producers, and this is how the show works."

As he explained, Amy seethed. So the dog in the tree had been a setup and she'd been filmed. The "robbery" in the lobby. The "rats" outside the doctor's office—which she had believed were a legitimate student-film project. She had been played, and she didn't like it one bit.

"I quit," she said loudly.

Everyone's head swiveled to look at her.

"Of course," Alex said, watching Amy closely, "you're free to quit if you choose. This is a job, not serfdom. There is a long waiting list of girls ready to take your place. But then we'll expect repayment of the advance you've received."

Mrs. Raduski's rent. Gran.

Violet, in the chair beside her, found Amy's hand and squeezed it.

Amy choked out, "I'll stay."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Oh wow, Flash Point was not what I expected. I tend to always ch

    Oh wow, Flash Point was not what I expected. I tend to always check goodreads and read a couple of non spoiler reviews of books I am starting right now and what I found was that there barely was any reviews. However, what convinced me was the review written by Gabby from Chapter by Chapter (Review here). So while I was excited from reading Gabby's review, I was also a bit wary from the lack of reviews as well as the review copy being around 500 pages long. Even with that, I really liked the idea of the book and it being a reality tv show, Who Knows People, Baby—You?, gone horribly wrong during a time of the greatest economic depression. Writing this review, I can say that Flash Point wasn't just entertaining, but it was full of twists, shocking turns, and a great mix of dystopian and contemporary.
    Amy, the main protagonist, is 16 years old and lives in a time after a disastrous economic and financial collapse that resulted in her scientist grandmother to lose her job, her life savings, and their house. Amy's parents are both dead so she lives, along with her 15 year old sister Kaylie, at a shabby sorry excuse of an apartment with her grandmother. From the beginning of the novel you instantly hate Kaylie. Kaylie is the ungrateful little sister that not only refuses to help out but also gets in tons of serious trouble that Amy ends up cleaning up after. I felt sorry for Amy, but at the same time I would have went ballistic on her, but Amy always made up excuses for her behavior. To put it bluntly, Kaylie was a jealous little kid that always resented Amy even though Amy was the person who brought in an income that kept them afloat, even if barely.
    Moving on to the reality tv aspect of this book. Amy gets picked out of thousands of people for this show where she, and 6 other people, are put in scenarios that are all based on holograms (yes, this is set in the future), and then people vote by predicting what each contestant will behave or react, based on 5 choices given to the voters. At the beginning, the scenarios were pretty harmless but soon enough they began to spiral and turn more realistic and dangerous. This is when Amy starts to doubt her place in the show but because of her sick grandmother and the full medical insurance the TLN station provides, Amy has no other choice but to bear with it. I really appreciated how Amy was selfless and did everything she could for her grandmother and ungrateful sister. Some of those scenarios were dangerous but she stuck through with it. I really felt total sympathy towards her and admired her courage. 
    There is one thing that Kress introduced to the novel but barely explored and it is the phantoms that Amy experienced that showed the true intentions behind a person's actions. I still don't get the real reason behind them or their place in the novel. Also, Kress barely gave any mention to when Amy's grandmother died and based on how much Amy did for and how much she loved her grandmother, it was very anti-climatic. The same could be said for the ending, but that could be overlooked.  
    As for the other characters and contestants in this novel, I loved that each one was pegged off as something but at the end of the novel, you really get to find out who they really are. Some totally contradicted your initial judgement such as Cai, while others were exactly as you thought, like Kaylie. The Antagonist, the producer of TLN, definitely got what she deserved by the end of the novel and I loved that everything wrapped up nicely without any dramatics and rushed conclusions. Honestly, with this long review, I barely delved into all that I wanted to discuss, showing you guys how this novel had so much going on but at the same time everything was linked and tied in together. However I have to point out that there is a ton of swearing so this novel would be better suited for mature YA readers. Therefore, I definitely recommend this novel to fans of books similar to The Selection and lauren Conrad's L. A. Candy but with less romance. This is not like The Hunger Games in any way, contrary to what people think. I can't wait to read more books by Nancy Kress in the future!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 15, 2012

    In a word "Simple" While enjoyable enough the book h

    In a word "Simple"

    While enjoyable enough the book had little in the way of real substance to it. I liked the characters but found them shallow and unmotivated at times. The setting while at least attempting to be intresting was not and the overall plot was rather lacking and the world built around the characters it rather shallow and lacking in depth. If this story was attempting at being a sci-fi

    dislike was the story's main villian who was in a word "lazy" for lack of a better discription.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2013

    Ratings: 1 Star I normally try to complete all the books I start

    Ratings: 1 Star
    I normally try to complete all the books I start no matter how bad it may be. When I stumbled onto this book at Barnes & Noble, the summary inside the book flap seemed intriguing enough to warrant a read.
    I was so wrong.
    I stopped reading as soon as I finished chapter 9. That was all I could have stomached. The story that I was reading wasn’t as interesting as the story that was promised to me on the book flap. It was dull and fell short of anything promising. The characters were flat too and pretty stereotypical.
    The surprising thing is that Nancy Kress is well-known for her writing how-to books (especially the characters guides). I expected much more from her and was disappointed at how unrelatable and how forgettable the characters are in this book.
    I don’t like to tell people not to read anything but this book is not worth your time. I struggled to continue after chapter five thinking that it was going to get better once the world and characters are established. I was so wrong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    Seth to Haley

    You ok?

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2012

    Haley

    Sighs. Yes im fine

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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