Everyone gets the Mark. It gives all the benefits of citizenship. Yet if getting the Mark is such a good thing, then why does it feel so wrong?
Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, "Swipe" follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn't even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.
The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It's almost Logan Langly's 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn't been able to shake the feeling he's being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago . . . and never came back. [Description from Goodreads]
I haven’t read a middle-grade novel in a long time, but this one was exceptionally good. Great, even. I will admit that I was bored with it initially. For the first fifty or so pages I was forcing myself through the book. It seemed slow, like the plot was dragging. There seemed to be minimal dialogue, too, which made it feel even worse. It picked up after that, though, and I was sucked into the plot, the mystery, the characters.
Some people describe this book as a dystopian, but personally, I wouldn’t. It’s futuristic, yes; it features an oppressive government system, yes; but it’s far from being dystopian for me. That’s entirely not a problem, though. I love the technology that’s laid out, and I especially love the idea of the Mark. From the very beginning, it reminded me of the Mark of the Beast, and that’s actually what spurred my intrigue in the first place. Sadly, it didn’t delve deeper into Scriptural references to end times aside from the Mark. With the Mark, a person can buy food, clothes, anything they want. They can go places and do things that the Unmarked can’t. Logan is on the verge of getting his Mark until he gets wrapped up in a mysterious person called Peck. With a notorious background of kidnapping kids, Peck’s one you’d want to avoid, but to Logan’s distress, Peck’s been watching him for years. And Logan has a feeling that he’s next on the hit list.
For once, I loved that the MC, Logan, wasn’t portrayed as a strong person. He’s young, he’s terrified at what’s happening, and he doesn’t know what to do. Authors, listen up: fragile protagonists are relatable. Trust me when I say that not everyone has a spirit like Katniss Everdeen. Most people freak out when put in life and death situations, especially young people. It’s refreshing to see a “weak” hero ever now and then.
Bottom line: While the beginning started out slow, once the pace picked up the story hooked me. I highly recommend this to not only middle-grade readers but also more mature readers. Though the writing is appropriately juvenile, I believe that older readers would also get some enjoyment out of Swipe. Very well written; I’m eager to pick up the sequel, Sneak.