The Barcode Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn, Reviewed by Ty Hensley

The Barcode Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
This teen thriller rides the cutting edge in a sci-fi fantasy about conformity, identity and freedom. The setting is the near future, and anyone coming of age seventeen receives a bar code tattoo. It’s a rite of passage and it’s the be-all and end-all of identity.
The bar code tattoo. Everybody’s getting it. It will make your life easier, they say. It will hook you in. It will become your identity. But what if you say no? What if you don’t want to become a code? For Kayla, this one choice changes everything. She becomes an outcast in her high school. Dangerous things happen to her family. There’s no option but to run…for her life.
Individuality vs. conformity. Identity vs. access. Freedom vs. control. The bar code tattoo.
Have you ever sensed that what everyone else does is wrong? People influence us to do things we never planned to do. Peer pressure is an extremely well-played subject in Suzanne Weyn’s novel The Barcode Tattoo, the first in an amazing three-part series that deals with trying to fight your way through life, while still believing your opinions. The main character, Kayla Reed, must deal with a futuristic America that requires its citizens to receive a bar code on their wrist upon their seventeenth birthday. The dystopian society she lives in influences diverse setting, fascinating themes, and interesting plot in the novel, all components I liked and was pleased with.
The first part to the novel I enjoyed was the diverse setting, which slowly developed, and that was very appealing to me. The first place that seemed to stand out to me in the novel was the Adirondack Mountains, in New York, USA. It was a very important location to Kayla Reed, and the small group against bar code tattooing, Decode, which she was very involved with. Kayla always seemed to be stuck in her town and her school, which she disliked. After she escaped the town and headed to the mountain range, the setting was very diverse, and expressed vividly in the novel. The tone kept shifting between sad and boring, to frightening and active. Instances include a time where Kayla went from a slow and developing fight between her mother, to a quick and frantic moment to put out a fire. The author created a gem by using the unique setting and changing tone, both parts I enjoyed in the novel.
Secondly, I liked the fascinating themes in the novel, which I think are very interesting, and are very usual for dystopian novels. The central point in the novel is “who should we trust”, and is a very important topic. In the novel, Kayla Reed has very few friends, and learns later on that she cannot trust some of them. In today’s world, as well, there are few people whom are trustable, but that is our decision to consider someone not able to trust. There is a lot of conflict displayed between Kayla and the people around her, and she tends to be fought and chased by the likes of her former friends, Zekeal, Nedra, and many others who she doesn’t know. The overall point of the novel is certainly revealed through the theme, and I can say that I was very pleased with the theme.
The third part, and my favorite part, of the novel was how well the plot was conveyed. The plot had an effect on me, mostly because it was rapidly changing, and I enjoyed that. Kayla Reed had many instances of a psychic-like flash forwarding, like how she predicted meeting Eutonah, a resistance leader in the Adirondack Mountains, who is against the dictatorship of Global-1 (they enforce bar code tattoos, and also rule many countries in the world, like America and China.) The whole novel climaxed around the time a fight between her old friend, Zekeal, and her boyfriend, Mfumbe, started to fight over Kayla, who watched, and was injured. The novel had a very interesting plot, and I really adored the fact the plot developed successfully.
All things considered, I loved the novel, and I really wish to read the other two books in the Barcode series. I really want to know if the visions that Kayla had become true, and what happens to the group she is in afterwards! I recommend the book to young adults, and even as a book for classes to read and discuss because it is filled with action, sorrow, and really good uses of vocabulary. Kayla Reed is a very outstanding and strong young adult, and she proves herself by holding on even after tragedy. Through the incredible use and display of diverse setting, fascinating themes, and interesting plot, Suzanne Weyn created a very cool, worthwhile novel and series in The Barcode Tattoo.

8 responses

  1. Hello, Ty. I am so glad that you liked the book! Your review is very good; your lead is very interesting, you include a lot of detail to support your points, and all of your body paragraphs have strong topic sentences that relate to your thesis. However, none of your paragraphs are indented, which makes the review a little hard to read. Also, you could beef up your transitions a bit by using words like “furthermore” or “additionally,” rather than “first,” “second,” and “third.” Your conclusion, though, is very well done. You covered all the bases of a good recommendation, including your opinion of the book, why you feel that way, and what kinds of readers might also enjoy the book. Overall, this is a very solid review. Good job!

    1. Briana, thank you for the comment! I know that I’m not very strong with transitions, but I’m working on them. In the hard copy of the book review, there was indention, however, there was an issue uploading the book review, and my indention was deleted. I would like some advice on transitional words, and ways to use them, and your help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  2. Ty,

    This is a very solid book review! You did an excellent job describing the novel in a way that makes someone want to read the novel! Your opening statement is very good, and the discussion of peer pressure in the novel is something that everyone can relate to today. However, Your paragraphs are not indented nor is there space between paragraphs, which makes it difficult to read. Also, you discuss how the themes of the novel are typical of dystopian society. You may want to add more detail in that section to explain why they are typical for readers who may not have read a dystopian novel before. Overall, this is a well written book review! Keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading more from you!

    1. Ashley, thank you for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed my book review! On the subject about indention, there was an error with uploading my review, and it was already indented in the hard copy of the review. I’m sorry I didn’t fix it. We haven’t learned much about indention in class, but we’ve learned a bit on transitional words. I’m glad that you read my review!

  3. Hello, Ty!

    I feel as though Briana and Ashley touched on much of what I would have said, but let me just say i was very impressed at the improvement you made since your review of Speak. Both are very good reviews, but I can see the improvement in your sentence structure from one to the other.

    As Ashley said, indentation or separation is important to keep the reader focused on where they are at in your writing. I lost my place a few times and it was a little time consuming to keep going back. I am sure this was a simple mistake.

    One thing I noticed was that there are a few times that you assume the reader knows what you are referring to such as Ashley said with the dystopian fiction trait part. To avoid confusion, always make sure you are thorough in your explanations and you see your ideas through.

    I thought your thought development was very nice on other sections, particularly your theme and plot sections. Only thing I would have liked to seen in your writing was more than just one theme in the theme section. Also, be weary of commas. They add pause to your writing, and at times made your sentences choppy. Common mistake with an easy fix.

    Great job on your writing, and talk with you soon!


    1. Thank you for your feedback Chloe! I’ve noticed that I have trouble with commas, and your peers have commented about my trouble with commas and comma-splice sentences. We’ve worked on this in my class, and I’m sure I will improve! Once again, thank you!

  4. You’re welcome Ty! Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you!

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