{Review} ALL RIGHTS RESERVED by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

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All Rights Reserved (Word$, #1)
  WE had just started over the bridge, toward my party, when the famously cheerful "Don't Jump" Ad clicked on. This had never happened to me before. The billboard's advertising systems scanned me—analyzing my age, my style, even my pulse—and calculated I was in need of a friendly reminder not to kill myself. Colorful, hopping bunnies sang at my feet, on a waist-high screen that arced the full length of the bridge wall. Traffic roared along eighty feet below. Above, the city dome was a lit diffuse, fading gray by the evening sky beyond.
    I felt a little queasy. Jumpers had been growing increasingly common, but I'm sure a higher railing would have been more effective than a glib cartoon. I wasn't planning to kill myself. I had other things to concentrate on.

(pg. 1, US Hardcover Edition)

“Once, I loved to talk. What did I say with all those words? It seems like nothing now. I honestly can't remember much: a conversation with Nancee about how birds make it into the city, an argument with Sera Croate about my hair (she said I looked like a boy with it short, but the style was free), a discussion with Beecher about how I liked the feeling of certain words in my mouth."


What if you lived in a world where you had to pay for every word you spoke, every gesture made, every trademarked and copyrighted piece of communication and expression? These days it can be said that speech may not be all that free. Sure our current society hasn't set monetary currency to language, but we all pay a price of some kind for the words we say; judgement, verbal or physical reaction from another party, there's always a reaction or a consequence to the words we let slip from our tongue. But imagine if the words you got to use were directly linked to your paycheck, if every syllable that passed your lips, every comforting pat to a friend's shoulder ended up in dollar signs.

This is the world Gregory Scott Katsoulis introduces us to in his debut novel ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. And let me tell you, this world swallows you up from the very first page. A dystopian community where everything is advertisement and terms of service, where it's micro law suites being thrown at each other every few seconds, where a cuff around your wrist monitors your expression and communication and charges you for every trademarked and copyrighted word and gesture. A parent from a poorer home can't afford to say the world "love" as they tuck their little one in at night, the rich flaunt their ability to use beautiful and costly bits of language but the real meaning and emotion behind the word has been replaced by dollar signs. A citizen does not begin to get charged for their communication until the day they turn fifteen, after a party with carefully placed brand names, after a speech thanking their sponsors and accepting their duty to society. Essentially your contribution is to become a living breathing advertisement board; the more attractive people facing out their brands so that everyone can see what they're using or wearing.

When we first meet our main character, Speth, she is headed to her Last Day party, a mixture of excitement and nerves, wondering which brands of refreshments will be placed. This is the world as she knows it and she's prepared to accept her role. That is until she isn't. Let it be known that Speth never intended to start a revolution. But when she watches her friend Beecher take his life, it's like the entire world shifts around her. Shock and grief can filter life through new eyes and suddenly all the things she was excited about disgust and horrify her. Speth is still expected to get up on stage and say her speech, like nothing happened. Her cuff has kicked in and she will be in breach of Terms of Service if she utters a sound of grief for the horror she's just witnessed. The reader sits in her hurricane mind of emotion as she delves into her own world deeper, and shows us the ugliest parts of it. Like the fact that many children beneath the city's dome don't have parents. If you can't pay your debts for speech the state collects you and puts you into a labor camp of sorts. If you breach terms of service in any way shape or form you are taken and your physical labor is meant to pay the debts you owe. The society has even gone so far as to start charging families for illegally downloaded songs their great-great-great-great-great grandparents downloaded ages ago.

The reality of her world crashes in on Speth and when she decides not to read her speech, not to say a thing, it isn't for the world, it's for herself. She's just a child that suddenly feels detached, overwhelmed, unable to make herself participate in a cold industrial world when she is a mess of feeling on the inside. But the dominos fall anyway. Even though she hasn't technically broken Terms of Service there are consequences. She is deemed a rebel; intimidated, threatened, abused by those who want her to speak and fall back into line. Her own siblings are confused and thrown by  her actions and she spends the rest of the book not being able to share her thoughts or feelings with ANYONE. As you travel with her you are reminded of every moment you yourself have been in a crowded room but felt alone, and you realize that probably doesn't feel half as bad as what this fifteen year old is going through. But Speth is stronger than she realizes, than anyone realizes, and without getting into too much detail of this amazingly detailed plot, I'll tell you that the girl is a hero through and through, and without meaning to every step she takes creates ripples of rebellious change behind her.

If you like a dystopian novel with a very real, very deep, very current social message, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED is a book for you. There were times I had goosebumps because the world the author creates is one I can SEE our society growing into, and that's more terrifying than any supernatural horror story I might read. Aside from that, the detail in this worldbuilding is GLORIOUS. There are brand names, there's legal talk that sounds so real it makes your head swim, there is imagery that brings the city to life. There were moments during my reading where I made visceral, verbal reactions to the turns of the plot, and I'd find myself wincing and waiting to hear the beep of my own cuff charging me for my words, because it felt like I had become part of the story. AND GUYS...when you open the book, after the map of the city, there is a legitimate Terms of Service guide covering things like eye strain and papercuts . . . I can't. An already A+ story got bumped to A+++++ with the breadth of details and time put into making it feel all consuming as a story.

The best news is, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED by Gregory Scott Katsoulis was published yesterday, August 29th and is now available in stores! Pick up your copy A.S.A.:P friends, but do make sure to read your TOS first . . . or elllllse.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: ()
Language: ( )
Violence: ( )
Other: --
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This cover is immediately striking, mostly because the title purposefully blocks out the image of the main character. She's also shaded into obscurity, a shadow behind the words that make and break the society she lives in. And then you've got the strips of words behind her; brand names, the cost of spoken words, it all just creates this lovely and intense understanding that words are powerful.
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Author: Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Received: Purchased


In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society. 

Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks ("Sorry" is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She's been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can't begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she's unable to afford.

But when Speth's friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family's crippling debt, she can't express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech - rather than say anything at all - she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth's unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.