Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teen, Inc. by Stefan Petrucha

Get ready to suspend your disbelief. In fact, as a preemptive strike, just go ahead and remove it altogether, maybe put it in a drawer to save for later. Have you put it away? OK, good, now we can get one with it!

Jaiden Beale was orphaned as a direct result of corporate negligence. Because he had no other family, NECorp, the corporation responsible for his parents' deaths decided to go ahead and adopt him. No, you didn’t read that wrong, he was adopted by a corporation. They converted an office to make into a bedroom (yes he lives at the corporate an office). He’s got managers, not guardians. They have meetings where they create power point presentations with his dating options (Jaiden is horrified at this and frankly so am I), they make spreadsheets with his progress, and schedule him for gym outings and tutors. In fact, even his name was given to him by the corporation – although they outsourced the job to a branding firm (I thought this was hilariously funny - what a great touch). Anyhoo, Jaiden thinks he’s pretty normal notwithstanding the fact that he’s being raised by a company, because after all, who has a normal family anyway?

So Jaiden is getting along pretty good. Most importantly he’s finally got the attention of the girl he likes via a well timed Biology class assignment. That’s when everything comes crashing down. He uncovers some possibly negligent and downright immoral dealings that NECorp is responsible for. And therein lies his big problem. If you are raised by a corporation does that make it your parents? What exactly does he owe it? Acquiescence? Loyalty? Love?

So if you can actually suspend your disbelief about a corporation raising a child (with no permanent caregivers!?! Where is his nanny??? They make him live in an office??? And how is he not a sociopath yet???) and treat him basically like a corporate project you’ll probably be able to enjoy this book. Jaiden has a funny, sort of na├»ve voice that is light and relatively untroubled. He’s got some good friends like Nate (who once the trouble starts is just plain awesome – frankly it’s the best part of the book).

So a cute light read – I think teens will enjoy it. It’s a silly concept, but an enjoyable one if you let probability sit in the backseat and just go along for the ride.

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