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Scored by Lauren McLaughlin
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Standardized tests and GPA determines in part a person's opportunities for higher education. Scored by Lauren McLaughlin takes those unfortunate facts to their dystopian conclusions.

Imani is a high school student with a high enough score that she can go to any college she wants and her entire education will be paid for. Her best friend though has been on a downward spiral.

Recently some creditors have taken to watching the social interactions of their potential customers. Those who socialize on Facebook with others with low credit scores, might be turned down for a loan. The idea is that like minded people stick together. So someone who is friends with a bankrupt person is likely to go bankrupt too. That's the theory.

In Scored, these social interactions are watched too. When Imani's best friend's score dips to low and Imani continues to be her friend (against all the advice of friends, family and teachers) her score plummets too.

With her near perfect score gone, Imani's life takes a turn for the worse. Once this happens, though, Scored's plot does its best to hit all the after school special topics. You'll either like that it does, or you won't. ( )
  pussreboots | Jan 14, 2015 |
Scored takes place in a future not so far away, where society is under constant video surveillance. Standardized tests are a thing of the past, replaced by the watchful eyeball of ScoreCorp, who assigns a monthly score based on five elements of mental fitness. The scoring system was designed to create upward mobility to all, regardless of class. But is the trade-off worth the personal sacrifices you have to make to maintain your score?

I like this type of realistic dystopia that’s easy to envision and makes you think about the future. The dystopian society presented in Scored is relevant to today’s world and brings up concerns about privacy, class, race, and questions the relevancy of standardized test scores. In Scored, every choice you make in your daily life is scrutinized and could bring you one step closer to a better life or doomed to failure. Your score is constantly being evaluated whether you are inside or outside school grounds, and the score of whom you associate with can even impact your score. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to wait for those monthly scores to be posted.

Imani LeMonde is nearly finished with high school and has an enviable Score in the 90s. If she maintains that score to graduation she’s on the road to success with a scholarship to the university of her choice, something she wouldn’t be able to afford without the Score. However, one false move could cause her score to dip below the scholarship line and Imani could lose it all. Her best friend Cady has a Score in the low 70s, and they have a pact to stick together through thick and thin. That pact is put to the test when Cady’s romance with an unscored causes a big drop in Score. When Imani pairs up with the unscored Diego on a class project about the Score, she starts to question her beliefs about the scoring system.

I liked Imani’s banter with Diego as they debated the pros and cons of being Scored for their class project. Both sides of the argument were presented evenly and provided food for thought. Their class project is high stakes because it could afford one of them a college scholarship regardless of their Scored status.

The story moves at a brisk pace, and at just over 200 pages, the words fly by. The only complaint I have is I wish that the ending were expanded upon. There are a lot of interesting ideas throughout the book that seem to build to something big, but the end result doesn’t quite live up to the promise. I still found the book engaging and thought provoking though, and I found Scored an entertaining read. I would be interested in reading more from this author. ( )
  readingdate | Jan 7, 2014 |
This book is going to divide readers because it attempts to do two separate things and, unfortunately, doesn't marry them together well. The exploration of ideological positions and debate between the characters is interesting, but not fully fleshed out. The love plot is interesting, but moves whiplash fast through stages, which reduces its believability. Still, I admire the book for what it's trying to do--remind us all that standardized testing WILL lead us to something horrible if not stopped. This book is a kind of midway point between the novel The Wave and Rae Mariz's The Unidentified. Recommended for younger teens. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
Was it through goodreads.com that I learned of this book, or did it come up in the NYT article about one-word YA titles along with Bumped and Matched? They're all the same, anyway: a near, seemingly possible future in which grades, pregnancy, or marriage is ordained by the state (or corporation; some version of The Man). The author's point is that you should read 1984 and Brave New World. There might be something else but those are the heaviest hammers.

This future world is far enough forward for a Second Great Depression to have ended but near enough that even young parents can remember a different kind of rat-racing ramp-up to college. In this future world, the river and coastline are polluted but you can go out and catch seafood, which apparently still flourishes enough not to be regulated and is not too contaminated to consume. A teenager reckons that she could feed her family with what she catches (a touch of Parable of the Sower). Bluefish is enough of a commonplace to be described as an acquired taste. Lobster still wander into traps and clams can be dug out from the beach. Did I mention the pollution? The protagonist does almost every time she brings up the river or the ocean. And yet there she is, harvesting clams.

This world is set after today, after last year in fact, yet students do homework on paper and respond to questions by writing by hand in a lined area under questions printed on paper.

In eighth grade I read The Illustrated Man and learned in "The Veldt" this useful tip about writing in a future setting: don't mention specific prices. The gadget-riddled house in that story cost $30,000. In 1981, I scoffed. Scored features an annual college scholarship of $40,000 -- in the future, when a year of college can cost that much now.

The anachronisms and inconsistent world-building wouldn't matter as much if the plot were stronger, but it was frayed and incoherent. And heaviest hammer is actually that a 12th grader can and should make life-altering decisions based on the boy she likes. ( )
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
This book had an interesting premise but left a lot to be desired. To me the ending feel flat and seemed incomplete. This book also would have been better without the f-bomb sprinkled through. It really was unnecessary. ( )
  Angela.Kelkenberg | Apr 14, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375868208, Hardcover)

Featured Interview: Lauren McLaughlin

Q. Many dystopian novels are set in a distant future that looks very different from our world today; what made you decide to set this in the not too distant future, essentially just a generation or two removed from where we are now?

A. I don't think you have to look too far into the future to envision nightmare scenarios evolving from current circumstances. We already have surveillance, high stakes testing, potent analytical software that makes judgments about us all the time. When a Google ad pops up on your screen, that's the result of a sophisticated algorithm analyzing your Web habits and making judgments about them. We rank each other by the number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers we have. We're also currently slipping into a desperate situation of massive economic inequality. Wealth is concentrating among fewer and fewer people. The middle class is sinking. The old economy of credit-fueled growth turned out to be a pyramid scheme, and, with that in tatters, there's nothing yet on the horizon to replace it. I don't know where all of this will lead us, but I don't think we're going to have to wait very long to find out. I think we may already be at the leading edge of a real life dystopia. I hope I'm wrong.

Q. Novels that were "required reading" in previous generations are mentioned a few times in Scored (Brave New World, 1984). Did you read either of these when you were in school? Did you discover any books that you still love today because of required reading in school or were you more of a reluctant required reader?

A. I read both Brave New World and 1984 in school. At the time, I was more of a reluctant required reader and the books didn't fully resonate for me. I was a late bloomer. I only fell in love with reading when I was 16, courtesy of an English teacher with a passion for Faulkner. But the strange thing about 1984 is that even though it didn't capture my imagination at the time I read it, the story definitely stuck in my mind. Something about the inescapable nature of that world became a part of my subconscious landscape. That's the power of required reading. You may not know it's in there, but it's in there somewhere. It's part of your understanding of the world and part of the collective unconscious of your peers. It's important for teens to read books of their own choosing for pleasure, but it's equally important for them to read outside of their own preferences. That's where you find those unexpected gems. I never would have chosen a Faulkner novel off the library shelf. The first few pages of The Sound and the Fury went straight over my head. That's a hard book to read. But boy am I glad my teacher made me read it. That book changed my life.

Q. What do you hope that the reader will take away from reading Scored?

A. I want to make people uncomfortable. I want them to feel the seduction of ubiquitous surveillance at the same time as being afraid of it. That's the kind of reader experience I'm looking for. Not only is it vastly more emotionally gripping to love and fear the same thing, but it also reflects, on a philosophical level, precisely the bind we're heading into as a society. Technology is a force for good and evil and we're not always equipped to know the difference. I want readers to think about these issues in complex emotional ways, because it's these complex emotions that will ultimately drive technological and societal change. As an author, I get nothing from creating simple easy-to-hate bad guys. It's too easy. Nor am I interested in reinforcing something people already know and believe. My goal is to make the counter-argument so seductive it occasionally gets mistaken for the argument. This will confuse and anger some readers, but I think it makes for vastly more interesting conversation.

Q. When you were a teen, were you more like Imani or Cady?

A. I would say that I was Imani with Cady itching to burst through. I wasn't a rebel, but I wasn't a conformist either. Truthfully, there wasn't much to rebel against. My teachers were excellent and engaging, my parents were supportive and cool, and most (though by no means all) of my fellow students were decent and kind. There was room in my upbringing for curiosity and doubt, so I never felt stifled. I actually experienced my rebellious phase when I went to college. At that point, I was Cady all the way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:35 -0400)

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In the not-so-distant future, teenaged Imani must struggle within a world where a monolithic corporation assigns young people a score that will determine the rest of their lives.

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