Waste of Space by Gina Damico


TW – Lot of offensive speech


So, I guess the real question is : Was Waste of Space a Waste of Time?

… Alright, I guess that answering this question isn’t nearly as easy as I had expected. Never mind, I’ll try nonetheless.

Before going further, perhaps you need to know something about me : I breath satire. There’s just nothing more satisfying than unhinged sarcasm as far as I’m concerned. And, oh boy, did Waste of Space delivered! Indeed it takes a look at the way people consume reality tv shows and welllllllll, that’s not pretty. Oversexualizing teens, diversity tokenism, and the cynicism! Cynicism everywhere. Behind the layers of bullshit lies a fierce satire on our society, one I am THRILLED to see in a novel aimed at teenagers. Of course, for that to be accomplished Gina Damico had to portray a lot of offensive stuff, most of it coming from Mister King Asshole’s mouth, Chazz, the producer of the show :

“We’ve still applied the standard network reality casting percentages : fifty percent male, fifty percent female; sixty percent white, thirty percent ethnic, ten percent undetermined; balanced dispersal of ages from fourteen to eighteen; plus the four Golden Tokens : gay, foreigner, disabled, and orphan. As per usual, we’ll be throwing all sorts of plot bombs and crazy situations at the poor bastards – with the new added twist of a live segment at the end of each episode.”

Charming, isn’t it? There’s so much wrong in this statement that I won’t even try to correct it : what’s important to know is that it’s very clear that this is not meant to be taken at face value but on the contrary, that it’s very much a pamphlet of some sort.

So the ten teenagers chosen are shoot into space and filmed 24/7. Except they’re really not. In space, I mean. Of course, nobody except the production knows that, and if doubts start pilling after the first episode is aired, most of the public chooses to believe the lie and you know what? It sounds pretty realistic to me. I mean, I did read an article last week in which people were arguing that the moon landing was fake. So.

Moreover, I won’t lie, I was engrossed from the start, and I have to give props to Gina Damico‘s writing for that : it was my first read from her but definitely not the last, because I just can’t help myself when it comes to sarcasm. So many authors don’t get it right! Sure, it was offensive as hell, but we can’t ignore the fact that it was meant to be, can we?

Ultimately though, my 3 stars {generous} rating probably gives away that I didn’t fall in love with this story. Let’s see why, shall we?

Remember the question I’m trying to answer? Was Waste of Space a Waste of Time?

Alright, I get that introducing stereotypical characters was the point. We’ve all seen these TV shows or music bands that always seem in a hurry to plaster down a stereotype to their members – marketing will do that for you. However, it would have been interesting to see the characters get rid of the straightjackets they were put in. Sure, they ultimately did… by page 350! I mean! It’s way too far for me to care, when I’ve spent most of the story bored OUT OF MY MIND by Clayton the Rich Asshole, Baccardi the Party Girl, Snout the Nice Farmer Boy, Nico the Shy Orphan, Lucy the Scifi Nerd… As much as I appreciate what Gina Damico wanted to do when she deconstructed these stereotypes, I’d have very much enjoyed for that to start, say, 200 pages earlier?

Moreover, some plot points were just completely unbelievable, and no, I’m not talking about the way everyone believed DV8 productions. I’ve already stated that the willingness my fellow humans show in accepting such framed lies make me think it could happen. But. See, one of the contenders is a Japanese teenager, who doesn’t speak English. Because she’s smarter than the others, she immediately understands that they’re not in space and that the whole thing is bullshit. None of the other characters speak Japanese, though, so they don’t understand her when she’s complaining. Fair enough, but come on, the show is aired on television in the United States and you’re gonna tell me that nobody understands Japanese? Now that’s just stupid. More generally, I did not like the way her character was treated : even in a satirical atmosphere, the way she was solely used as a joke did not sit well with me.

Finally, as captivating the beginning was, Waste of Space didn’t manage to hold my interest through the end. Indeed by page 200 I was already aching to skim, and if I didn’t, I can’t say that the ending made it up for the boring parts. Even if the concept won me, the plot was just not compelling enough in my opinion. The last part was so, so boring : I think that’s when I realized that I didn’t give a flying fuck about these characters?

Oops? Did I say that aloud?

To conclude : I appreciate what Waste of Space was trying to do, and the sarcasm was perfect. Yet as far as I’m concerned it failed to exploit its fabulous premise.

*arc kindly provided by HMH Books for Young Readers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. As usual, it did not influence my opinion one bit*

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