- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (July 11 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544633164
- ISBN-13: 978-0544633162
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.4 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #685,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Waste of Space Hardcover – Jul 11 2017
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This edgy, madcap romp will have wide appeal. By turns chaotic, lampoon-ish, hilarious, melodramatic, thoughtful, and suspenseful. . ." -VOYA
"A sure pick for fans of sci-fi spoofs, black humor, and unusual formats." - Booklist
"Intriguing and at times hilarious . . ." - SLJ
" Damico does for media frenzy and outer space what Libba Bray did for glamour pageants in Beauty Queens, taking this adventure all the way from comedy to sharp satire." - Bulletin
" Damico nails the anything-for-hype mindset of reality TV, keeping the action whizzing along at a zany pace and the laugh lines humming." - Horn Book
About the Author
Gina Damico is the author of Hellhole, Wax, and the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two cats, one dog, and an obscene amount of weird things purchased from yard sales. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co .
Top customer reviews
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It's a super ridiculous and humorous premise; that a TV network is going to send a group of teenagers into space and film it as a reality TV show. I really enjoyed the first 65% of this book. It was amusing, engaging, heartfelt and so cliche you couldn't help but laugh. The end however didn't quite hit for me.
Waste of Space is written in the format of video or audio transcripts (for the most part); either of the reality TV show, phone calls, unaired footage from the video cameras, or the mysterious intern that provides commentary every once in awhile. On page 1 we learn that the intern is the reason the footage is all combined in one file from so many sources. This format while easy to read is not always my favourite. We only get characters perspectives from their 'confessionals' to video cameras which makes it difficult to know if we are getting their genuine thoughts or more 'acting' out of their stereotypes. I prefer to be in the character's head and better understand their POV.
The teens are the main focus of the story; alongside the TV executive, Chazz. He's the over the top executive that calls all the ridiculous shots and seems to think that the world needs cutting edge, truly dangerous reality TV. Except that no one is going to sign off on their teenage being shot into space alone... so instead of actually going to space they make it seem like the kids are in space for the show. Oh, and the teens think they are also in space and on their own. A typical Lord of the Flies scenario.
The best part of this book is that the ridiculous fun of the first half is obviously a hoax. We, the reader learn this right away and of course most of the world buys into the silly premise (because people are easy to manipulate). Thankfully a few groups of scientists easily debunk the show as being in space, even if no one listens to them.
By the second half of the show I feel like the reader is suddenly the one being taken along for a ride. Suddenly we are trying to figure out what is actually going on as there is clearly more to this little charade than a fake 'space plane' and a celebrity hungry TV executive.
This brings me to the crux of what I didn't like about Waste of Space. It has an odd ending. It's not that it's bad... it's just... not what I expected at all. And not in the 'wow, I'm amazed' kind of twist. Instead in the I feel there was little to no foreshadowing for this ending and it's a bit cheap. I suddenly feel like Gina Damico took me, the reader, along for a similar ride that Chazz took the TV audience on in the beginning. A total and complete facade that barely explains what is happening.
The other thing that I found about Waste of Space is that it's a bit long... my ARC copy is 510 pages. I see that the published copy is shorter (400 pgs) so I'm hoping they cut down on some of the unnecessary dialogue between the teens on the ship. That said, the pages aren't fully text either, as they are in the screenplay dialogue style. So average words per page is significantly lesser than your average book.
Overall I thought Waste of Space was fun, but I wouldn't pick it up to read again. That said, if you have a teen that is a space geek and would enjoy a fun book I think this is a great pick. Also this is a clean book so you could give it to any child at the right reading level. I'd easily buy this for a 10 year old that has a higher than average reading level. And I'm certain that a 10-13 year old would be enchanted by the whole thing. Which makes me wonder just now... maybe I'm just a bit too old for this book (like 20+ years too old, lol). No matter what your age is there is no doubt you will need to suspend ALL belief to really accept this odd ending. But at least you'll have a good, fun time getting to it!
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
* Jonathan Swift? This is unabashed satire (and sarcastic as all get out) and as written takes apart the reality TV industry, rich people, and modern media in general.
* Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth? See The Space Merchants which satirizes and expands 1950's advertising into the future.
These three sets of authors popped into my head as I was reading A WASTE OF SPACE and contemplating of what it reminded me. The book definitely has Stoker-ian, Swiftian, and Pohl-Kornbluthian overtones in one strange melange.
Our intrepit [sic] "spacetronauts" consist of the usual array of jocks, nerds, nymphos, the disabled (though the "disability" is an amputated single middle finger), etc. These teens are slightly less than believable characters, but pretty standard and likeable for a Young Adult (YA) novel. For the adult reader, I'd recommend Damico's book for those who like flaky cult novels.
In the end, it easily passes my greatest test for all media: it wasn't boring. Sometimes stupid, often funny, occasionally bitingly sarcastic, this book oddly works. The plot plows along at breakneck speed even if it's not very believable. Check that. The most believable thing about it is the proper disdain it holds for the media producers and consumers of our day.
Reality shows are such guilty pleasures. I've felt squeamish during Survivor's food challenges, eaten chocolate while watching The Biggest Loser, experienced the horror akin to watching a car crash unfold every time something disgusting is found during a Hoarders episode and revelled in feeling boringly normal each time a new My Strange Addiction unfolds on my TV.
I love that Gina Damico took a satirical spin on reality shows. I'm not usually a fan of books that feature transcripts as I generally find them quite incohesive but was pleasantly surprised with how well my attention was maintained throughout the transitions between transcripts of video footage and phone calls, and the intern's commentary.
I haven't read one of Gina Damico's books before but found her writing to be very visual. With the descriptions of the people, locations and situations I could easily watch mini movies in my mind of all of the action. If The Asylum were to take it on I could see this book being made into a really fun B grade comedy/drama/action movie. I'd definitely watch it!
Waste of Space took me longer to read than I'd expected because I kept stopping to go find someone to read a funny passage to, such as the explanation of what went wrong in the season four finale of Alaskan Sex Igloo. I loved the concepts of the other reality shows described in this book as well, including America's Next Top Murderer and The Real Housewives of Atlantis. I had to try to suppress a giggle when reading about these because I'm sure if they were real I'd be settling in to binge watch them as we speak.
That said though, beneath all of the fun and some silliness there were some deeper truths to be found about conquering your fears, not judging a person solely by the image they portray on the surface, facing the painful events in your past and the impact they continue to have on you, and the value of trusted friends.
I was intrigued by both Nico and Titania from when I first met them and looked forward to seeing how their characters unfolded throughout the book. Watching their characters interact with their fellow Spaceronauts and each other was entertaining and I liked discovering the defining moments in their pasts that eventually led them on board the Laika. As much as I liked both Nico and Titania, my favourite character ended up being Kaoru, the girl who consistently told it like it was ... albeit in Japanese which none of the other Spaceronauts understood.
What I wanted to eat while reading this book:
* Bacon (sorry, Colonel Bacon!).
If I were to nitpick:
* I was a bit annoyed by some crude scenes that I didn't think were necessary and added nothing to the plot or character development.
* I kept waiting for the disclaimer saying this book was sponsored by IKEA.
What I'll be doing once I finish writing this review:
* Researching Gina Damico's other books to add to my ever growing to be read pile and working out which one I want to read first.
Although I received a free advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, I know I'm going to want to reread Waste of Space and highlight all of the passages that made me laugh so I can easily find them again when I feel the need to randomly quote them, so I'll be purchasing my own copy.
The premise is this: DV8 wants to make a show about regular kids on a space station, but that's unrealistic, and expensive, so they partner with NASAW--a shadowy conglomerate whose scientists know lots about space and time--to build a fake space station (complete with IKEA furnishings) that can house ten teens for two months. Along the way, DV8 management bullies and coerces everyone to insist that this show is taking place in space.
Kids line up in malls hoping to become part of this cast; some a fame-hungry, some are looking for a way out, others are looking for a new life altogether. The teens are cast to fulfill certain roles, and the stereotypes they reflect. It's a weird mix of Big Brother and Space Camp, and the audience is in on the joke from the get-go. That said, there's still lots of surprises in store. Like, what happens when the uppity/vile nephew of the TV show's producer is going to get axed? (Bring on the big guns...) What about the party girl--any more bras to display? The token minorities are messing up the chemistry, and there's plenty of clueless to go around.
The telling of this story is a disjointed collection of transcripts from video recordings, cell phone calls and business meetings. There are roughly 15 POVs, so that's a jumble. It took me a while to settle in, though I caught on to the sympathetic POVs in the early going. Nico and Titania are the heart and soul of the story--two kids who've been altered by tragedy. They are searching for more---meaning and acceptance, and they don't go in for DV8's shenanigans. The DV8 exec, Chazz, and his nephew Clayton are the typical reprehensibles, pulling all the strings and cutting despicable deals. I was pleasantly surprised by "Bacardi" and "Snout" and saddened by Louise. I had thought I wasn't touched much by the book, then the end hit me like a sledgehammer to the chest. The storyline was a sleight of hand that morphed from zany and unpredictable into intense and emotional.
I'm not going to belabor the plot; some of the kids are desperately hoping to be a part of a space mission. Others know it's gotta be hoax. The DV8 and NASAW folks are doing their utmost to convince the world their show is "real." In the mix some true connections are made, and dare I say: the most fervent wishes of several of the cast are made real. I was pleasantly surprised how all the seemingly random plot threads were stretched and connected and eventually woven into an unexpectedly picturesque tapestry. For fans of reality TV, this book is a piercing commentary on the genre of entertainment, and how we consume fiction--in any medium. Expect plenty of showmanship, and deceit, and double-crossing. Expect subtle commentary on American xenophobia and racism. And if you read through to the end, expect to be surprised, and maybe delighted. Like I was. I received a review copy via NetGalley.