Published: September 8th, 2005 (first published January 1st, 2004)
Publisher: Razor Bill
Read from August 27th to September 7th, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Hunter Braque, a New York City teenager who is paid by corporations to spot what is "cool," combines his analytical skills with girlfriend Jen's creative talents to find a missing person and thwart a conspiracy directed at the heart of consumer culture.
Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series earned its spot on my favorites list a long time ago, but I had yet to read any of the author's other books. This was the first book outside of the Uglies that I got a hold of, but even then it's been sitting around for a couple of years (like all of my other books) waiting to be read. Considering this is a contemporary instead of a dystopian, this book was very different from the Uglies, and of course, I knew that going into it. I wasn't expecting something too similar, and I was interested to see how much I liked Westerfeld's writing outside of Uglies.
I did enjoy the book, although not anywhere near as much as the Uglies. What was really neat to me was Hunter's job as a cool hunter. The weird thing is that that exact term ended up coming up in my sociology textbook as I was reading this book. There was a whole section discussing the job and it even talked about cool hunters in real life. That was a cool little tie-in with the book that I hadn't been expecting.
I found the book entertaining, but I wasn't incredibly moved by it. At first I thought it would explore consumer culture more than it did, which would have been really interesting to me. It definitely did do that some, but I think more of the story seemed focused just on the mystery of the shoes and the mysterious people that they can't figure out. Any exploration of consumer culture seems to take a back seat, which was a bit disappointing to me.
Then there's the fact that the book is a little outdated. I'm completely willing to let that go because of course it was bound to happen with so many references to consumerism and pop culture. What annoyed me though were the attempts at being vague without really being vague. At the beginning of the book, Hunter declares that he won't name drop any brands, but each time, we're given enough information to know exactly what brand is being talked about, and it's so obvious that it just seems annoying to not have it named. I'm not sure why that decision was made. Maybe it had to do with legal issues or maybe it was just an artistic decision. Either way, I found it annoying.
Overall, I did find the book enjoyable, but I wish I had gotten more from it.