Scored by Lauren McLaughlin (2011)
YA Fiction | Dystopian | Sci-FiBlurb:
“Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a “score” that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored‘s reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend’s score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.”
pooled ink Review:
I remember buying this book when it came out 5 years ago. I couldn’t find it and had to ask a B&N employee to help me. She got it out the back and then looked at the cover and was like, “Well that’s a weird looking cover.” I just smiled back and said, “Yeah but the story sounds so cool.”
Another belated review for the blog today! Seeing as I didn’t have this site a year ago every once in a while I like to re-visit books I’ve already read and give them a little review and shout-out here on my blog.
So Scored came out in high school and it was around the time I was getting really into Dystopian books (Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend,…). Not only were my book choices veering off into the realm of ethical discussion but so was my school curriculum. At this time my English class was assigning books like 1984 to read and I was also enrolled in an ethics class required for all seniors (I was unexpectedly enthusiastic about writing case studies for that class and I found a love for giving both sides of an argument a hard time trying to push them further and harder to force them to really delve into why they believed what they believed). So basically Scored sounded like it would be right up my alley.
Sure enough this book did not disappoint.
Particularly relatable to juniors and seniors in high school (because college applications, ACT, SAT, etcetera), this story launches us into a future where every student is scored on everything at all times. Did you do your homework? Did you stop at that stop sign? Did you trip someone in the hallway? Are you friends with a trouble-maker? Did you eat your vegetables? They way you think, perform, behave, and react is all constantly monitored by cameras everywhere and each morning when you arrive at school you can check your score. You might be best friends with the other kids in the 80s for years but the day you rise or fall from your bracket is the day you change lunch tables and change friends.
But that’s just the way it is. That’s how you get a good job, how you become eligible for college. Everyone is a number, a score. That’s just the way it works.
Sound familiar? *Every high school and college student raises their hand* Yeah I thought so.
But one day Imani runs into a boy who turns her world upside down. She begins to see how the score is controlling, ridiculous, and suffocating. The constant monitoring of their lives, the constant stress over scores, the constant obsession and restraint of the new education system. It all slowly becomes clear to her. Step by step she discovers fun, desire, and freedom.
It’s just such a cool concept in my opinion. I focused my whole world around getting top scores in every class refusing to receive anything less than an A on any assignment or exam. I drove myself with so much stubbornness and determination that I graduated from college with a 3.97 GPA and yet now that I’ve been shunted out into the “real world” no one cares about those scores. Maybe in general they do, but if you’re not a complete idiot, if you get along with others, and if you show that you can do the task then that’s what really counts. All those loathsome group projects and creative thinking exercises are actually what really apply to the adult world, not a number. I mean, you should still care about making good grades and all but the point is to try your best. Take advantage of all the lessons and tools being taught and use them to get ahead in the world.
A quick read, a dark but intriguing concept, Scored will cause you to shake your head, bare your teeth, and glare with defiance at the numbers that define your existence.
Purchase here: Scored
Meet Lauren McLaughlin!
I grew up in the small town of Wenham, Massachusetts. After college and a brief flirtation with anthropology I spent ten years in the film business as both a screenwriter (Hypercube, Prisoner of Love, Specimen) and producer (American Psycho, Buffalo ’66, Vig, Stag, and others) before turning my attention to novels. I am the author of the teen novels, Cycler, (Re)Cycler, and Scored, as well as the upcoming children’s picture book series, Preschool Detective. I am currently at work on my fourth novel about the misadventures of a sixteen-year-old thief with a dark secret.