So Yesterdayby Scott Westerfeld
But when a big-money client disappears,
Ever wonder who was the first kid to keep a wallet on a big chunky chain, or wear way-too-big pants on purpose? What about the mythical first guy who wore his baseball cap backwards? These are the Innovators, the people on the very cusp of cool. Seventeen-year-old Hunter Braque's job is finding them for the retail market.
But when a big-money client disappears, Hunter must use all his cool-hunting talents to find her. Along the way he's drawn into a web of brand-name intrigue-a missing cargo of the coolest shoes he's ever seen, ads for products that don't exist, and a shadowy group dedicated to the downfall of consumerism as we know it.
Shane Bell, Teen Reviewer
- Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
Chapter Zero We are all around you.
You don't think about us much because we are invisible. Well, not exactly invisible. A lot of us have hair dyed in four colors, or wear five-inch platform sneakers, or carry enough metal in our skin that it's a hassle getting on an airplane. Quite visible, actually, come to think of it.
But we don't wear signs saying what we are. After all, if you knew what we were up to, we couldn't work our magic. We have to observe carefully and push and prompt you in ways you don't notice. Like good teachers, we let you think you've discovered the truth on your own.
And you need us. Someone has to guide you, to mold you, to make sure that today turns into yesterday on schedule. Because frankly, without us to monitor the situation, who knows what would get crammed down your throats?
It's not like you can just start making your own decisions, after all.
So, if we're supposed to be secret, why am I writing this?
Well, that's a long story. That's this story, the one you're holding in your hands. It's about how I met Jen. She isn't one of us or one of you, either. She's on top of the whole pyramid, quietly making her contribution. Trust me, you need her. We all do.
It's also about the Jammers, who I'm pretty sure really do exist. Probably. If they're real, then they're crazy smart, and they've got big plans. They're the bad guys, the ones trying to bring the system down. They want to make people like me redundant, unnecessary, ridiculous.
They want to set you free.
And the funny thing is, I think I'm on their side.
Okay. Is that enough previews for you? Can you pay attention long enough for me to do this in order? Is it time for the feature presentation?
Let's get started, then.
Chapter One "Can I take a picture of your shoe?"
"Shoelaces, actually. The way you tied them."
"Oh. Yeah, sure, I guess. Pretty skate, huh?"
I nodded. That week skate meant "cool," like dope or rad once did. And this girl's laces were cool. Fuzzy and red, they looped through the middle eyelet repeatedly on one side, spreading out in a fan on the other. Kind of like the old rising-sun Japanese flag, but sideways.
She was about seventeen, the same as me. Gray sweatshirt over camo pants, hair dyed so black that it turned blue when the sun hit it through the trees. The shoes were off-brand black runners, the logo markings erased with a black laundry pen. Definitely an Innovator, I thought. They tend to specialize, looking like Logo Exiles until you get close, until you see that one flourish. All their energies focused on a single element.
I pulled out my phone and pointed it at her foot.
Her eyes widened and she gave the Nod. My phone for that month, made by a certain company in Finland, was getting a lot of the Nod, the slight incline of the head that means, I saw that in a magazine and I already want it. Of course, at another level the Nod also means, Now that I've seen an actual person with that phone, I really, really have to get one.
At least, that's what the certain Finnish company was hoping when they mailed it to me. So there I was, doing two jobs at once.
The phone took its picture, signaling success by playing a sample of a certain dysfunctional father saying, "Sweet, sweet chocolate." The sample did not get the Nod, and I made a mental note to change it. Homer was out; Lisa was in.
I looked at the image on the phone's little screen, which looked clear enough to copy the lacework back at home.
"No problem." An edge of suspicion in her voice now. Exactly why was I taking a picture of her laces?
There was a moment of awkward silence, the kind that sometimes follows after taking a picture of a stranger's shoe. You think by now I'd be used to it.
I turned away to look at the river. I'd run into my shoelace Innovator in the East River Park, a strip of grass and promenade between the FDR Drive and the water. It's one of the few places where you can tell that Manhattan is an island.
She was carrying a basketball, probably had been shooting hoops on the weedy courts under Manhattan Bridge.
I was here working, like I said.
A big container ship eased by on the water, as slow as a minute hand. Across the river was Brooklyn, looking industrial, the Domino Sugar factory waiting patiently to be turned into an art gallery or housing for millionaires.
I was about to smile once more and keep on walking, but she spoke up.
"What else does it do?"
"My phone?" The list of features was on my tongue, but this was the part of the job I didn't like (which is why you will read no product placement in these pages, if I can possibly help it). I shrugged, trying not to sound like a salesman. "MP3 player, date book, texting. And the camera can shoot like ten seconds of video."
She bit her lip, gave another Nod.
"Very crappy video," I admitted. It was not my job to lie.
"Can you call people on it?"
"Sure, it--" Then I realized she had to be kidding. "Yes, you can actually call people on it."
Her smile was even better than her shoelaces.
When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he imagined everybody in the country having one big party line. We'd all listen to concerts on the phone, or maybe everyone would pick up and sing the national anthem together. Of course, a somewhat more popular use of the telephone turned out to be one person talking to one other person.
The first computers were designed for naval gunnery and code breaking. And when the Internet was created, it was supposed to be for controlling the country after a nuclear war. But guess what? Most people use them for e-mailing and IM-ing. One person communicating with one other person.
See the pattern?
"My name's Hunter," I said, returning her smile.
I nodded. "Jennifer was the most popular girl's name in the 1970s and number two in the 1980s."
"Oh, sorry." Sometimes the facts in my head get bored and decide to take a walk in my mouth. Frequently this is a bad thing.
She shook her head. "No, I know what you mean. There's Jens all over the place these days. I was thinking of changing it."
"Jennifer did drop to fourteenth place in the 1990s. Possibly from overexposure." I winced when I realized I'd said this out loud. "But I think it's a nice name."
Great save, huh?
"Me too, but I get bored, you know? Same name all the time."
"Rebranding," I said, nodding. "Everyone's doing it."
She laughed, and I found that we'd started walking together. On a Thursday the park was pretty empty, mostly joggers, dog walkers, and a couple of old guys trying to catch something in the river. We ducked under their fishing lines, which flickered from invisible to brilliant in the summer sun. Behind the metal guardrail the river sloshed against concrete, agitated by a small boat motoring past.
"So, how's Hunter doing?" she asked. "The name, I mean."
"You really want to know?" I checked her smile for signs of derision. Not everyone appreciates the pleasures of socialsecurity.gov's name-ranking database.
"Well, it's no Jennifer, but it's moving up. Hunter was barely in the top four hundred when I was born, but it's a solid number thirty-two these days."
"Wow. So you were way ahead of the crowd."
"Yeah, I guess." I took a sidelong glance at her, wondering if she'd figured me out already.
Jen bounced the basketball once and let it rise into the air in front of her, ringing like a bell, before catching it with long fingers. She studied its longitude lines for a moment, spinning it before her green eyes like a globe.
"Of course, you wouldn't want your name to get too popular, would you?"
"That would suck," I agreed. "Witness the Britney epidemic of the mid-1990s."
She shuddered, and my phone rang. The theme from The Twilight Zone, right on cue.
"See?" I said, holding it up for Jen. "It's doing its phone thing."
The display read shugrrl, which meant work.
"Hunter? Are you doing anything?"
"Uh, not really."
"Can you do a tasting? It's kind of an emergency."
"Yes. The client wants to put an advertisement on the air over the weekend, but they're not sure about it."
Mandy Wilkins always called her employers "the client," even though she'd worked for them for two years. They were a certain athletic shoe company named after a certain Greek god. Maybe she didn't like using four-letter words.
"I'm trying to get together whoever I can," Mandy said. "The client needs to make a decision in a couple of hours."
"How much does it pay?"
"Officially, just a pair."
"I've got way too many pairs," I said. A trunk full of shoes, not counting the ones I'd given away.
"How about fifty bucks? Out of my own pocket. I need you, Hunter."
"Okay, Mandy, whatever." I looked at Jen, who was scrolling absently through numbers, politely not listening, maybe a little saddened by how old and decrepit her own phone was (at least six months). I made a decision.
"Can I bring someone?"
"Uh, sure. We need more bodies. But are they . . . you know?"
Jen glanced at me, her eyes narrowing, beginning to realize that I was talking about her. The sun was catching more blue in her hair. I could see that she'd dyed a few slender strands bright purple, hidden underneath the black outer layers, letting glimpses of color through when the wind stirred her hair.
"A what tasting?"
"A cool tasting," I repeated. "But that's just what Mandy and I call them. Officially it's a 'focus group.'"
"Focusing on what?"
I told her the name of the client, which did not get the Nod.
"I know," I said. "But you get a free pair and fifty bucks." Once the words had left my mouth, I wondered if Mandy would cough up money for Jen as well as me. Well, if she didn't, Jen could always have my fifty. It was random money anyway.
But I wondered why I had invited her. Usually people in my profession don't like competition. It's one of those jobs, like politician, where there's already too many and everyone who's never tried it thinks they could do it better.
"Sounds kind of weird," Jen said.
I shrugged. "It's just a job. You get paid for your opinion."
"We look at shoes?"
"We watch an ad. Thirty seconds of TV, fifty bucks."
She looked into the currents of the river, having a two-second debate inside her head. I knew what she was thinking. Am I being exploited? Am I selling out? Am I pulling a scam? Is this a trick? Who do I think I'm fooling? Who cares what I think, anyway?
I've thought all those things myself.
She shrugged. "Hey. Fifty bucks."
I let my breath out, just then realizing I'd been holding it. "My thoughts exactly."
Meet the Author
Scott Westerfeld lives in New York, New York and Sydney, Australia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book allows readers to fall into the world of consumerism and the materialistic tendencies of American Teens, alongside telling a delightful tale typical to said teens. Westerfeld is able to connect with the reader on a variety of levels through this book, and the plot remains interesting, despite what appears to be a shallow subject on the surface.
This book was great and it was suprisingly original. I read a bunch of teen fiction and it all becomes the same but this was a nice change!
My favorite Scott Westerfeld book! So Yesterday is witty, hilarious, and generally fantastic. It will make you think about society, consumerism, and advertising. Also, shoes. A fun read that somehow gets across much more than what the story is on the surface. The protagonist, Hunter (one of my favorite characters in a book, ever), narrates the story, and random bits of knowledge, urban myths, etc. are interspersed with the current happenings of the story. So Yesterday is lively and entertaining, and well worth the few hours it takes to read.
I've been wanting to read this book for a long time. Because knowing Scott Westerfeld, it had to be good. I've read all the Uglies books, the Midnighters books, and the Peeps books, and fell in love with them, and thankfully that didn't change for So Yesterday. The one thing that cracked me up about this book was how Hunter kept talking about how he came to New York from Minnesota and how he had to change all his Minnesotan ways to actually become cool. Ah, boy. Do us northerners really have such a bad reputation as being hicks? Sure, Target is our favorite store, we bundle up in hideous parkas to brave the frozen winters, and use the term Uff Da on a daily basis, but I didn't think we were so uncool as to be referenced in a book all about coolness. I think that's really funny! And a book that makes me laugh is a good one for sure. I loved, loved, loved So Yesterday because of its whole vibe. It subtly draws you in and uses a bunch of radical ideas to keep your attention. I enjoyed thinking about the innovators, the jammers, the Hoi Aristoi. If that stuff was actually real, would I even know it? It was neat to get a peek of what could possibly happen behind the scenes of pop culture as we know it. The writing was smooth, the characters were created with detail, and the ending was great possibly left open for a sequel? I hope... I highly recommend So Yesterday. It will captivate you, spark your interest, and make you think about things you never thought you'd have to think about. :P
I grabbed this book after I read Pretties by the same author....the book it just kind of confused me...I never really got the point of the book, it was well written and interesting, but why....I just don't get the crux of the story to be completely honest. It is possible I missed it (which is probably the case) but nevertheless it was nothing in comparison to Pretties.
Hunter is a 'Trendsetter', someone who finds the newest coolest thing and then makes it widely popular. When Hunter's boss, Mandy, goes missing, it's up to him and Jen, an innovative and bold girl he met in a park, to find out where she went. They soon find themselves in a web of connected but seemingly unassociated things, like a building of the coolest shoes anyone has ever seen, a product called Poo-Sham that turns people's hair purple and doesn't exist, a magazine called Hoi Aristoi, a woman on roller skates, and a group that calls themselves the Jammers who have apparently dedicated to ungluing the world of cool as Hunter knows it. Overall, it was an okay book. It's not one of my favorites, but I did like the way the character's thoughts and insights were described. It left too many loose ends, and it's very difficult to understand how everything is connected. I was expecting a lot more because the plot was coming from so many different places, building and adding up to this big reveal that just kind of flopped. I didn't like the ending that much, bu it was a general, all-over okay-in-a-good-way book.
One of the first books I read by this author. The other cover was really good and as you read you notice the objects that were mentioned are also on the cover. Anyway, this was a good at times, weird, but interesting none the less. the other series I read by him was the peeps series.
I really enjoyed this book. Scott Westerfeld’s book, So Yesterday, is a fast-paced book with various cliff-hangers. The book is mainly about a 17 year old boy, Hunter, who is a cool-hunter. A cool hunter is a person who is payed to find what is cool and what is not. One day he meets a risk taking innovator who will change his world. She changes how he sees and contributes to the world’s fashion sense. He is soon sent to a mission to find his boss with the help of his new friend. He finds some clues to where his boss might be. He is taken into a race to truth. Hunter might actually see that he has believed in the wrong things.
Great book!I loved it from the start!I reccomend this highly!
I have read scott westerfeld's other books and i found this book really good. it sort of confused me a bit, but i liked how he brought up interesting facts and stories. really makes you think
um ok so i have love love loved all the other books by scott westerfled i have read, pretties, peeps, and midnighters, so when i picked this book from the library i was really happy to read another good book. too bad it wasnt, i couldnt even read past page 60.
I didn't think that this book was up to Scott Westerfeld's usual standards. I have read some of his other books, and so far, the majority of them have been really good. However, this book lacked some of the intrigue I got from the others. It had a different quality that I, personally, didn't care for.
"We are all around you. "You don't think about us much because we are invisible. Well, not exactly invisible. A lot of us have hair dyed in four colors, or wear five-inch platform sneakers, or carry enough metal in our skin that it's a hassle getting on an airplane. Quite visible, actually, come to think of it. "But we don't wear signs saying what we are. After all, if you knew what we were up to, we couldn't work our magic. We have to observe carefully and push and prompt you in ways you don't notice. Like good teachers, we let you think you discovered the truth on your own. "And you need us. Someone has to guide you, to mold you, to make sure that today turns to yesterday on schedule. Because frankly, without us to monitor the situation, who knows what would get crammed down your throats? "It's not like you can just start making your own decisions, after all." Hunter Braque is always on top of the latest trends. Mostly because he helps make sure they become trends. As a seventeen-year-old with his own background in the whirlwind world of innovation and style, Hunter knows exactly how to spot Innovators--the people who do something before it's cool. The people who define cool. When Hunter's best client disappears it will take all of his connections to track her down as he teams up with an Innovator, uncovers a mystery surrounding the coolest sneakers he's ever seen and gets to the bottom of the shadowy world that lurks behind all of the trends and innovations in So Yesterday (2004) by Scott Westerfeld. So Yesterday is generally grouped into Westerfeld's New York Trilogy which is not actually a trilogy. It's one of his earlier novels, set in New York City and also a rare non-fantasy title. (The other books in this "trilogy" are the vampire-apocalyptic books Peeps and The Last Days.) Although this book is a departure for Westerfeld's usual fare of science fiction and fantasy adventures, the prose is still decidedly his with the expected blend of wit and trivia along with excellent turns of phrase. (True story: One of my all-time favorite quotes is from this book!) Hunter is understandably interested in trends so the book is filled with odd bits of information about the origins of ties, or more specifically cravats, among other things. And don't let the realistic setting fool you--there is still tons of action to be had as Hunter chases down sneakers, avoids thugs and seeks help from shady figures with names like Futura Garamond (another true story: This book introduced me to both of those font faces which I now use all the time!). So Yesterday is a fast, strange book that readers who enjoy sardonic humor, New York City, or the stories behind the latest It Thing (or all of those at the same time!) is sure to enjoy. Possible Pairings: The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney, New York City: A Short History by George J. Lankevich, Proxy by Alex London, Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller, Vicious by V. E. Schwab
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I give this book five stars because there are a lot of mysteries that they main character has to solve, like finding his boss. This book is about Hunter, the main character who is a trendsetter. He looks for the coolest things that he finds walking around and then makes it very popular. When Hunter and a girl he meets, Jen, try to meet up with Hunter's boss Mandy, they find out that she has gone missing, so it is all up to them to find her. When he goes through many obstacles to find Mandy it makes the book hard to put down. I would suggest this book to anyone because it has cool facts like "The first person to make a phone call from a New York Street was Martin Cooper in 1973", that make the book interesting. Also it is cool to find what Hunter takes pictures of, like a pair of shoes that have shoes laces that spread out like a fan. This book is great, and is a good book to read.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Uglies series. But PLEASE do not compare this book and that series. This is good; if it was by any other author it would have five stars. So please do not complain that Uglies was better. It was. But this book was amazing too. Give it a chance.
Uglies series is way way better.