Contestants on a reality show must survive in a hostile and potentially deadly environment for seven months to receive a substantial cash payout.
Harvey’s alternate world draws from the dystopia genre but also has strains of romance and sci-fi. A group of seven people, chosen for their propensity for drama, attempt to survive on an uninhabited island in Michigan through the harsh winter. Scenes of the participants scavenging for food, engaging sexually with each other, and physically fighting are contextualized by scenes from the studio, where heartless producer Janice abides by the government’s motto: “love divides us/war unites us.” However, after a murder within the group, things on and off the island become more complicated. Attempts to maintain ratings for the show lead to desperate solutions with very real consequences. Though a fun and engaging read, much of it isn’t fully developed. Characterizations largely depend on generalizations and reality show stock characters, without allowing personalities to develop. The world outside the reality show remains flat, despite hints of a warmongering president, virtual reality, and realigned countries, such as “Pan Arabia.” Perhaps these shortcomings could be developed further in a serial format since it feels like Harvey has much more to say. Still, this is an entertaining novel with promise, especially for fans of dystopia literature. Given the constant battle of ethics versus ratings and money, reality TV might not even be far off from such a show anyway.
A well-written novel with insight into the culture of reality TV as well as the harsh reality of human survival.