ARC/Book Review: Waste of Space – Gina Damico

waste-of-space-gina-damico-book-review-she-latitude

Title: Waste of Space (2017)
Author: Gina Damico
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Extent: 368 pages
Release Date: July 2, 2017
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space.

The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.

And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

Review

Waste of Space is a very interesting book, one that I have no doubt would be quite polarising among the YA audience. It’s wacky, it’s ridiculous, it’s surprising as hell, and even now I don’t feel like I have the vocabulary extensive enough to describe it the way I actually want to. Hell, I’m not even sure how I feel about it, weeks after finishing it.

This is an epistolary novel, written in the style of a report with transcripts of phone calls, TV episodes, and conversations, with small sections of narrative. The premise is intriguing: ten teenagers are being sent to a fake spaceship without them knowing that it’s fake, and their whole experience is televised for the nation to see. The narrator has written this report to expose the very unethical nature of the whole operation.

Anyway, the mission commences. Lifelong friendships are formed. Bitter fights erupt. Maybe a slap or two. A slap in zero gravity — that’s never been done before! . . . Every eye in America will tune in to check on their cosmic sweethearts.

Waste of Space introduces you to several characters, but I never felt like any of them was a protagonist. There’s Chazz Young, the head of DV8, the channel broadcasting Waste of Space; there’s NASAW, a group of shady scientists collaborating with DV8 for funding; and there are the ten contestants: Nico, Titania, Hibiscus, Clayton, Jamarkus, Bacardi, Matt, Kaoru, et cetera.

I won’t bother telling you about them one by one since the list will be long, but they’ve got quite defined personalities. I wouldn’t say they’re that well-developed, though, because Waste of Space is not a book that tells you a lot about its characters. Reading it was exactly like reading a report — I felt incredibly distanced from the characters and the events.

There’s a lot to unpack in the story, but since I’m not entirely sure what it’s all about, I’ll just share with you the range of emojis that I felt:

  • 😰 at how crazy unethical everything was, how shady most of the adults are, how much I just want to take these kids away from this seriously disturbing operation.
  • 😵❓ at what’s going on because this book definitely kept me guessing the whole time.
  • 😱 at how things turned out at the end. Is this real? What is reality? Who even knows.

Are you guys familiar with UnREAL, the TV show? This book is somewhat similar to it in that the characters are equally unethical and willing to do whatever it takes to make great television. You know those link-bait titles that go “You won’t believe what happened to ABC in XYZ! The true story will surprise you!”? In Waste of Space, you actually won’t believe what happened to ABC at XYZ, and the true story will surprise you.

“Everything we do and say — are we being watched by the world? Or by no one at all? Which is worse?”

Waste of Space left me feeling intrigued, confused… bewildered. Bewildered, and yet amused. For most of my reading I was busy trying to figure out what the hell is actually going on. It’s not the most realistic of premises, but it is crazy and ridiculous and can be a lot of fun if you like that kind of thing. I’d recommend it to certain people… I’m just not quite sure who those people are. 😂

“You have to keep going, Nico. Bad things happened to you. But you can’t wallow in them forever. You can’t go backwards. You have to keep moving. Keep exploring. Like a shark — if they stop moving, they die.”

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18 thoughts on “ARC/Book Review: Waste of Space – Gina Damico

    • That’s how I feel! I think it was just too “Whaaat?” for me to give it three stars – like, it constantly surprised me but it’s not necessarily a good surprise… though it’s also not a bad surprise, just maybe a surprise surprise, if that makes sense? 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love feeling connected to characters, but I love mixed media and the reality spin! I normally guess plot twists as well, so I’m intrigued! I don’t know how I feel about 10 characters though…it would mean distinct personalities to differentiate everyone but no development. :/ Nevertheless, this sounds super interesting! I’m adding this to my tbr. 🙂

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    • From your comment, you might want to check this out! It’s just such an odd, unique book that I honestly can’t predict how it will go down with most people… but hey, every book has its own audience and you might be this book’s. 😂

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  2. Oh jeez this review, lol. (insert crying/laughing emoji) I decided against requesting this even though the premise sounded amazing I knew I wouldn’t have time to read it. You’re review has me so torn. I want to read it know to know how it ends but also the whole “transcripts, texts, etc” format has me shying away. I like getting to know my characters to understand them and it looks like that wont be the case with this story. Loved the review, definitely going to need to know what happened now. 🙂

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    • Given the mixed media format it’s actually a really, really quick book to read, so there’s that at least! I would say though that there’s no real “getting to know the characters” here, at least personally… but who knows, perhaps the premise will work really well for you? I really can’t tell with this book. 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, so you talking about UNreal here makes me even more curious about this book now ahah;. I really like this synopsis, it sounds like a very interesting story, yet it makes me a bit sad you felt so distant from the characters. I haven’t read many books told in transcripts and other formattings like that – only one I can think of is Illuminae, and yet for some crazy reason, I was hooked in this book. I’m kind of on the fence about reading that one for now, but I’ll keep it on my mind for sure 🙂
    Lovely review!

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    • It’s like UnREAL in that whole ~reality television, crazy producers, unethical plot~ kind of way… but perhaps not much else, haha. It IS a very unique premise, one that I was super hooked by but unfortunately as a novel it didn’t really work for me. I think the idea will be really good some other way, though – like perhaps a TV show of its own? The chances are super low but I think it’ll be quite interesting like that. 🤔

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  4. I’ve read another review for this book before reading your Reg and the one thing that’s stood out at me from both reviews is how confusing this book is, and hard to review as well. I think you did a good job and I have to say I’m quite intrigued by this book too. I haven’t seen UnREAL but despite the confusion that seems to be surrounding Waste of Space I almost want to know what happens to all these characters. I guess this is why some people find reality TV so addictive right? 🙂
    Great review. 😀

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    • It’s definitely a confusing book, so thank you for saying that! I was worried that I didn’t give it enough of a fair chance – I might not love it, but I was mostly bewildered by it more than displeased or un-entertained or anything like that. And all that said, it DID keep me reading because I was super curious for the truth, so there’s that at least. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know whether I want to read this or not….? I was totally out, until you compared it to UnREAL. There is something strangely compelling about engaging with characters who totally lack what I would consider to be a moral compass.

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