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Reality TV 2083

by Andrea White

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-055454-1
Publisher: Eos/HarperCollins

This tale of five 14-year-olds in a life-endangering reality show sustains tension through the middle, but ends weakly. In a grim American future—a dystopia without complexity—television reigns supreme. Reality programming teases contestants with money for education beyond eighth grade while providing viewers a distraction from poverty and hopelessness. Its new gimmick is children: The DOE (Department of Entertainment, responsible for all television and schooling) sends five kids to Antarctica to simulate the historical 1911 Scott expedition to the South Pole. As with previous Historical Survivor series, injuries and deaths are welcomed for their high ratings. Nauseated by the spectacle, a sad DOE employee secretly helps the kids, but frigid polar conditions and DOE sabotage may triumph anyway. Quotations from Scott’s real diary flavor the adventure, but White’s ending lacks substance: the trip is aborted and the future (for characters and society) lies stagnantly between hope and despair. Some nice characterization and connection with historical explorers, but closes with an emptiness reminiscent of reality TV itself. (end note, bibliography) (Science fiction. 10-14)