A Waste of Space by Gina Damico
Publication date July 11, 2017
Summary from NetGalley:
Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.
And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.
Arc Provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
Gina Damico’s books always make me laugh out loud and this one did as well. This is a biting satire on reality TV and how insane things can get in television. This is a different book than any others I’ve read by this author, but the things that I love, the wit and sarcasm are certainly there, as well as a story that is hard to put down.
The story is being told by a disgruntled intern who worked on the project for the cable network DV8. She (I thought of her as female although we don’t really know who the narrator is) recounts the ill fated reality show Waste of Space, through transcripts, e-mails, recorded phone calls and video recordings. There is much to tell, from the start of the producer and DV8 owner Chazz’s first meetings with the scientist of NASAW through to the somewhat surprise ending. The reader is often left wondering what is real and what isn’t through out the entire book, mostly because no one is quite what or who they seem to be.
All of the cast members are quite different from each other and unfortunately fall into the categories most associated with reality TV. We have Nico, who is very shy and has a troubled past. Titania, who is also troubled but more of a leader than Nico. They are the real stars of the story and we see them the most in the transcripts. Bacardi is the freewheeling drunk who appears to be clueless most of the time. Jamarkus is the smart one, who also happens to be african american and gay. Clayton is the nephew of Chazz and is the one who loves to stir up stuff and is the character on the show that everyone loves to hate. These five are the ones who carry most of the dialog and action of the show. Louise is the youngest and has the most trouble relating to the others. She is also the only who never doubts that they are really in space. Snout is the country boy who really doesn’t have a clue as to what is going on usually. He was allowed to bring his pet pig Colonel Bacon on the ship, which adds another layer of comedy and incredulity to the show. Kaoru, who only speaks Japanese, Hibiscus the hippy and Matt round out the group of ten teens supposedly sent into space. We also hear a lot from Chazz Young, the producer and owner of DV8. I loved all of the characters, even the ones that were nasty such as Chazz and Clayton and I felt sorry for a few of them. Nico and Titania were the the ones who really steal the show and tug at your heartstrings with their stories. Bacardi ends up being a bit of a surprise and although I hated her through most of the book, I really came to appreciate her in the end.
We also get glimpses of what the public is thinking of this show through blog postings and transcripts of news conferences. Through these we are meant to understand that the show is widely popular and that the majority of americans think that the kids are really in space! There is one group of naysayers who try to call DV8 out on their deception, but are always one step behind them and the scientists who end up deceiving everyone.
A really great read that is funny and a great satire of reality TV. I found it hard to put down, and spent most of it chuckling to myself. When things start to go wrong for the show and the kids are trapped I did start to worry about how it was going to end. There is a bit of a surprise twist, but a good one I think, and one that adds to the mixed up reality that is a Waste of Space.