The Bar Code Rebellion, by Suzanne Weyn, is the second book about seventeen-year-old Kayla Marie Reed and the world she lives in. In 2025, when the novel takes place, everyone, at the age of seventeen, is required to be tattooed with a bar code. The bar code is what people use for everything, from paying for bus fare to getting a job. In the first book about this world, The Bar Code Tattoo, Kayla’s neighbor, the now-famous Gene Drake, was killed in a struggle because he had discovered something terrible about the tattoo, and wanted to tell the world.
More terrible, it seems, than what Kayla and other bar code resistors already know: that the tattoo contains each person’s genetic code, gotten from the blood sample taken when they are tattooed. These codes can ruin a person’s life, if they have problems such as bipolar disorder or Parkinson’s disease in their family. That’s what happened to Kayla’s friend Amber and her parents.
Following Gene Drake’s example, people everywhere are resisting the tattoo, even though it means forfeiting any chance at a normal life as a part of society. People are burning off the tattoo, or, if they join in time, refusing to get it in the first place.
One day, Kayla sees a girl on TV with her face, telling people how happy she is about the barcode tattoo. Next thing she knows, this girl is everywhere, pretending to be Kayla, and promoting the barcode tattoo. Is she a digital fake? Or is there more to it than that?
Suzanne Weyn’s novel takes place in a scary future society. It’s especially scary because it really could come true. We’ve all read books about what the future will be like, and chances are, none of them are exactly right. Everyone predicts, though, that the government will have more and more control over our daily lives, maybe even getting to the intense and frightening level in Bar Code Rebellion.
In this story, characterization takes a backseat to the action, but that’s okay, as it’s meant to be more about the plot and the setting than it is about the characters. Even though the characters feel a little two-dimensional, it’s still a book worth reading, especially for fans of The Bar Code Tattoo.
**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**