15 August 2011

The Barcode Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn

The Bar Code Tattoo
*****- Five Stars

I happened upon this little gem whilst meandering though my local library. Oh the joys of books to read, free of charge! This book was just leaning ever so slightly off the shelf, so I adjusted it, then decided to take a closer look. "Closer", indeed! I read it in a few hours on the road this weekend.

We start in a world set in the future. Everything is smaller and faster then ever before. The latest "in" thing is to get this tattoo on your wrist of a bar code that is unique to you and only you. But see there's a problem in Utopia, isn't there always?

Kayla is one of the very few people who think there is something wrong morally about having your identity plastered on your arm for all the world to see. Medical records, criminal records, schooling records... every personal thing about you is right there for anyone with a scanner to see. Kayla refuses to get the tattoo, which starts to pose problems after the government makes it a law to be tattooed by seventeen.

What path will Kayla choose now? To follow the government and be a good little docile sheep, following the herd? Or will she take a stand for her morals? Are morals and self integrity really important anyway? Is "safety" the price for freedom?

A wonderful story, but then I'm a sucker for the "False Utopia" stories. 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver... There are more I'm sure, but these are my favourites. Is safety the price of our personal freedom? Can we be free moral agents, allowed to make mistakes, yet maintain freedom? What is price we are individually willing to pay? Well... you answer......

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