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Weyn, Suzanne. The Bar Code Rebellion. Scholastic: New York, 2006.

This novel opens with a suspenseful scene in a gas station, in which Kayla
Reed, the protagonist shoplifts food and leads an angry cashier on a foot chase
through a wooded area. The setting is soon revealed as a year 2025 America,
where a totalitarian government monitors and controls every aspect of a citizens
life, even going as far as to mandate a bar code tattoo. This practice sets the stage
for the main themes explored in the book; namely exploitation by authority, the idea
of society and social order, and a human's personal identity. When a tattooer
destroys an inking machine and attempts to kill himself, the government releases a
statement, in which it is perfectly clear that the man was deranged and unstable.
However, in the very gas station where the novel opens, Kayla sees herself on a
television screen, talking about the incident and how it affected her. She
immediately recognized this as odd because she really did know the man, but had
no recollection of ever discussing the ordeal, nor had she witnessed it in the first
place. Beginning with this peculiar turn of events, Kayla renounces society and
refuses the bar code-- dooming herself an outcast in complete isolation of society.
Soon, however, she discovers there are more rebels like her; un-tattooed and
outlawed. Together, the rebels travel in search of answers. In an altogether
enigmatic ending, Kayla discovers that each tattoo is a genetic code, meaning that
with the technology, any tattooed citizen could be cloned. As it turns out, the girl on
the television is the real Kayla Reed; the novel's protagonist is merely a clone. In
the end, Kayla accepts her differences (which are, simultaneously, galling
similarities), in a mental state that can only be inferred as her understanding that
the true nature of 'identity' being simply a state of mind.

The major themes explored in The Bar Code Rebellion are, as mentioned
exploitation by authority, the idea of society and social order, and a human's
personal identity. How far, really can the definition of 'authority' be pushed? Surely,
there comes a point at which a body of control extends far beyond the purposes of
governing and assumes the role of a deity. "The bar code was wrong." Narrates the
novel; "It was degrading and put government control right on your skin. It reduced
you to a code. And more than that, it said you were to be judged solely on the basis
of your genetic code" (8). Weyn, in this quote, clearly presents her stance on the
idea of the balance of power. This book sends the none-too-subtle message that a
human's basic identity is far more important than how a human identifies with a
society or organization. What, then, does Kayla's joining up with other outlaws
symbolize? It signifies and underlines a basic principle of humanity; humans crave
social order. Within any quantity of people, it is only instinct for each to establish
themself. Therefore, Kayla never truly left society and abandoned the idea of social
order; she, along with the other outlaws simply created a new systemization.

This thought-provoking novel would be enjoyed by the connoisseur of


science fiction, owing to the futuristic setting and highly-advanced technologies
explored in the book. It would also be well-read by the appreciator of a good
adventure story, because most of the story is set in a turbulent fast-paced
environment. Really, anyone in the market for a good read would enjoy The Bar
Code Rebellion.

Representative narration-- third person:


"With bar code fakes on their wrists, Dusa and Kayla entered the quickly
erected building of corrugated metal and high-tech plastics set up outside the
Smithsonian Institution" (58).

Representative dialogue:
"Ironic, isn't it?" Dusa said, taking off her helmet. "Hopefully, someday this jail
will be inside the Smithsonian, just a freaky artifact of American history" (58).

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