You'd think a nice staycation would be a great time to get some blogging done, but you'd be wrong. The beach is exhausting, people.
I got Gina Damico's Waste of Space as an ARC from Netgalley quite a while ago, but I didn't read it till recently because of the PDF Problem. Books with interesting formatting often offer PDFs instead of Kindle files, and with some, like Waste of Space, the formatting can't translate onto my e-ink Kindle. I ended up reading it on my computer, and I'd recommend a paper copy if you're going to read it.
Waste of Space is a scathing satire of reality TV, modern stupidity, teenagers, and basically everyone. An insanely slimy and deeply stupid internet TV producer named Chazz hooks up with an organization called the National Association for the Study of Aerospace and Weightlessness (NASAW, aka low-rent NASA) to fake launching a dozen teenagers into space for $$ratings!$$.
The teenagers are awful, except our hero and heroine. Hibiscus is a mindless, crunchy hipster. Clayton is a rich ass after fame. Snout is...well, actually a decent person, but since he's the hick from the sticks, he talks with a heavy accent and only tells stories about his pet pig Colonel Bacon (who is on the ship with him). Bacardi is the woo girl who stays sloppy drunk and makes out with random people. There's an overachiever, a girl who speaks only Japanese, a supernerd--every stereotype you can imagine.
Plus our heroes, of course. Nico, whose parents died and who is really shy, and Titania, who is running from her Troubling Past.
They go into "space," with a weekly half hour show and a live feed. Unbeknownst to them, they're on a sound stage being managed by NASAW scientists at the behest of Chazz. The world is watching with bated breath, though it's not entirely clear if the world is hanging on a bunch of kids in space or an audacious reality TV gambit. Either way, the world is full of people who buy this hook, line, and sinker, in spite of it making not a lick of sense.
This is what it comes down to--the book is so heavy handed that it ceases to be satirical and becomes slapstick. I'm not going to let the YA designation get it off the hook for that--reality TV can be such a parody of itself that you almost can't make fun of it, but that doesn't mean the solution is going so far over the top I can't see the top in the rear view mirror.
Essentially, every character here was such a parody, and the entire cast (including the watching world) was so devoid of common sense, that I didn't have anyone to latch onto. Even our POV characters, the kids who were pretty "normal" in the cast, were just exaggerated versions of the characters you root for on reality shows.
The coolest thing about the book was its form, as a collection of found documents and transcripts of both broadcast episodes and unaired footage. The anonymous intern who put the book together and sent it to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children is the person I'm most likely to sympathize with in the whole thing, and she barely appears herself. But she is the only sign that the world that real people inhabit has any relationship to the one in the book.
I can't say the book wasn't pretty fun, especially the few characters who you learn more about at the end--there's no real development for anyone, but there are some revelations that keep you interested. The boredom of living in a reality TV house between stunts is pretty well-evoked, though I can't say that's a selling point. But there are some great lines, and honestly, I kind of wanted to meet Bacardi and Snout. If I had to spend a few weeks trapped in a fake space plane with a couple of teenagers, I suppose I could do worse.