Sunday, May 31, 2020

#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

DNF @ 68%

I made it to almost 3/4 of the way through the book before I decided I didn't care anymore. #MURDERTRENDING made quite the splash when it first came out; people were comparing it to The Hunger Games. Basically, the United States has an ex-reality TV star president (huh) who is a tyrannical dictator (huh) and has decided to endorse a state-sponsored reality TV show where people are publicly executed by a bunch of paid serial killers who wear costumes and have back stories like they're on the WWE. But our heroine, Dee, is innocent, and when she wakes up wearing a princess dress on "Alcatraz 2.0," she starts to wonder if maybe she might be part of a bigger conspiracy.

The premise is like The Prisoner meets Running Man, but the book itself actually reminded me a lot of a young adult dystopian novel I received an ARC of last year, called THE HIVE. THE HIVE also features a president who is clearly modeled after Trump, but the premise is a bit different (and, in my opinion, better): everyone is connected to a master social network called "BLINQ" where users are encouraged to "trend positive." But in addition to likes and reshares, users can also "condemn." And if someone gets enough "condemns," it triggers an alert that encourages people to swarm down on that person like angry wasps and deliver some rough, mob-style vigilante justice.

#MURDERTRENDING almost works. I think the problem is that it's a little too silly. When the prisoners aren't running for their lives, they're living in quaint little town homes and working jobs to get money for their "island credit cards," one of which is a quaint little ice cream shop called "Ice Scream." I feel like the potential for commentary on reality TV shows and dramatic diplomacy are there, but it's lost in the cheap thrills and cheesy costumes. It's unclear how this execution reality show fits into the culture (whereas in THE HIVE, it was a necessity around which the entire framework of social and legal norms and mores were built). The idea was interesting but I didn't much care for the execution (ha, pun).

2 out of 5 stars

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