Review: Riot by Sarah Mussi – RANT ALERT!!!


Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Publication: Hachette Children’s Books | Hodder Children
Number of pages: 352
Source: eARC from Netgalley & ARC from UK Publisher
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It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.

The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.

The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.

But it is all so blatantly unfair – the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won’t.

It’s time for the young to take to the streets. It’s time for them to RIOT:


Disclaimer: There will be spoilers. ABORT IF YOU PLAN TO READ THIS BOOK.

There are books that are bad, and there are books that are head-splitting bad. Unfortunately, I’d categorize Riot under the latter, as I got a huge clusterfuck of a migraine from reading this… this thing.

You see, I’m one of those people who believe not everything is black and white, even governments. In fact, I’d dare say they’re the shadiest of the shadies. And why not? They govern the land and the people, they manage the country’s funds, they are our representatives in international affairs, and they are considered the elite of the elite. With so much power, it’s not rocket science to believe that they will always have their own interests prioritized (or rather, their underground businesses, or whatever puts them ahead of the game). Plus, I’m Filipino, and my country is full of rotten politicians who embezzle money so blatantly that my countrymen already consider them as normal as roosters cock-a-doodle-do-ing at first light.

So governments or politicians-gone-bad? I’m your expert here, folks. 

And that was why I wanted to read this one. I read the blurb and thought it was highly unrealistic and laughable, but I still wanted to know how it would be executed. Sometimes a premise can sound silly, but if it’s done right, it can be the best of them all. Besides, my initial prejudices have been proven wrong countless times, so I wanted to try my luck.

But as fate would have it, my luck ran out. And all I got was a beastly headache. UGH.

Warning: long rants ahead. Like, whoa. That’s long, dude.

More like “Government-Gone-Unrealistic”

Long story short, it’s 2018 and England is overpopulated. The solution? The legislation of the Snip Bill, a forced sterilisation of the youth of the ballooning lower classes. This, of course, leads to unrest and much rioting of the masses, the latter spearheaded by the President’s daughter, Tia Thomson, a self-proclaimed activist whose alter ego is EVE, Mother of the Future, leader and creator of DarkNet7. What should have been a peaceful riot turns into a deadly incident as snipers and helicopters start shooting and killing people. Tia Thomson escapes and gets aided by Cobain, a wanted terrorist, and she is about to discover the “shocking” truth.

Shocking, of course, being that the government is lying to the people and there is actually no overpopulation, and that they simply want to distribute resources to the middle and upper classes, and so they went ahead to do this huge propaganda by initiating the riot themselves (disguised as the rioters) and brainwashing the people into protesting, and… and… and…

…and I ask myself this: what the flying fuck for?

Nevermind the fact that the British “Government” killed countless people for a confusing, illogical reason. Let’s talk about why the initial premise alone is laughable and ridiculous. I know stuff like this I should suspend my disbelief, but when a setting is very much grounded to our own world and time, I have this principle that it at least has to sound realistic, or, at most, feasible. So for me, it was highly uncanny that a Western government who are the pioneers of the protection of human rights such as the United Kingdom would spearhead an awful legislation that entails the forceful snipping of reproductive organs. I get that a lot of things could change in a year or two, but this?! Come on, dudes and dudettes. Humanity can be awful sometimes, but I’m certain we would not go this low.

And besides, say for example a Western and European government would devolve into primitives (which is highly doubtful, no matter how disgusting our politicians can be), where the heck were the NGOs who would usually try to ease tension? Or the UN? Or the ever-so present human rights groups?! Even wars in Syria and Libya had people from these organizations trying to help the wounded, and for such an unreasonably and violating Bill, they would also try to not make it happen.

So, yeah, I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t buy the whole freaking thing. This is no longer far-fetched – it’s so far gone into the abyss of unrealistic that it can no longer be salvaged. And oh, did I mention how utterly ridiculous the real reasons behind the Snip Bill, and how they manipulated everything to make it happen? My reaction to it is this:

Behold: Tia Thomson, She. Who. Has. The.
Most. Robotic. Voice. EVER.

I don’t even care anymore that we were thrown into the middle of a situation, confused like a newborn babe, without anything to help us understand what the fuck was going on. It was an issue for me at first, but as I finished the last page of this book, my headache actually came from somewhere else – FROM THE NARRATION/WRITING ITSELF.

Dear lord jesus in a manger. Tia Thomson is a self-proclaimed hacktivist who supposedly knows her way into computers and gadgets, but the way she thinks is like that of a 5 year old. No, wait, I apologize – even 5 year olds have smoother way of thinking then hers. Her narration was absolutely horrendous. Even Simon Cowell would be saying “bloody hell” all day if he ever encountered such a thing (which I did, too, because god the migraine was terrible). They are all fragmented and choppy, some of them containing less than 10 words.

And I keep thinking: are you a frigging 5 year old, or what? x_x

I’ve been hit.
Lacey’s here. She pulls my arm. The pain’s unbearable.
She jolts me. “Tia!” she shrieks. “Get up, they’re shooting!” She jolts me again.
I recoil. I try to get up. I put my good hand to my shulder. It comes away red. Lacey sees it and screams. Rushing air blasts overhead. The helicopter’s still there.
“They’re trying to kill us,” sobs Lacey.
 I force myself up.

And as you can see, there’s also a lot of telling than showing. We’re always told that she felt this, that she felt that, that this is so and that’s like that, but it’s never shown to us in detail. We’re just told and then that’s that – no other explanation, no other exposition, no other anything.

“Keep going,” he orders.
In the alley, he pulls me to a stop. I’m too out of breath to say anything. He drops us back, into an entrance, against a bricked-up doorway. He’s panting and sweating. His face is half-lit, half in shadow. He lays a finger over his lips. I try to stop wheezing. My shoulder throbs. My chest is on fire.

I apologize, but I think I got another headache from typing that. x_x

In any case, before I digress and go “woe-is-me!”, the disorienting narration made it so hard for me to connect to Tia. I mean, I understand she’s fighting for a cause, but I didn’t feel attached enough to care. I just wanted it all to end.

It also doesn’t help that the main character has no sense of self-preservation at all. Dudette is supposedly really good at computers and whatnot, so she should know THE MOST how it’s so easy to get discovered simply by using a cellphone. But nope, Tia here keeps on using them anyway, and has been found and chased and targeted, like, I dunno, several times, just for using a freaking gadget. AND SHE EVEN ACKNOWLEDGES THAT IT MAY BE DANGEROUS BUT SHE KEEPS DOING IT LIKE A MORON (sorry for les caps).

This, of course, keeps resulting to her continuously being saved by her knight in shining armor…

Cobain and Tia: The Romance That Did Not Make Sense

I honestly do not know where this romance came from. One moment they’re all angry at each other, and then boom, we get kisses and hugs and “I don’t want to leave you” dialogues. Like, whoa! Fast-paced much?

It’s not actually insta-love per se. It did take them a while to like each other, and Cobain did try to help and follow Tia because he had motives and agendas for his own, but I didn’t see anything that could justify their attraction to one another (oh, fine, Tia kept complimenting his “cat-like” green eyes *grumble*). I may be acting really nit-picky right now, but for me to actually be into the romance, I have to at least see something (let it be a heartfelt conversation or an event) where sparks fly. I really didn’t see anything of that sort here, to be honest.

And anyway, even if sparks did fly (I assure you they didn’t), I never really found Cobain that swoon-worthy. And there were times he was incredibly sexist as well, especially in the beginning, when he was talking and walking with his friends. So they’re talking about EVE (Tia Thomson), making fun of her and her HANDS OFF! campaign. Behold, Cobain Reilly, your love interest:

     “Too right,” laughs a friend. “I don’t know why she’s so fussed about having her tubes snipped – it’s not like anyone’d want to do her, anyway.”
     They laugh. Laugh and laugh. I press harder on my arm. Dear God, let them go.
     “You know why she hides her identity?” says another. “Why she calls herself EVE? Mother of the Future?”
     “Because she’s so ugly even Frankenstein ran away.”
     Cobain opens his mouth and laughs. “That’s good. That’s really good. I heard she really is ugly.”
     “All that lot are ugly,” says his friend, “that’s why they’re so angry, because they’re panting for it and no guy’d ever look at them.”
     “Not this guy anyway,” says Cobain. “Like would I be bothered about some random bit of pussy that’s got to whip up support to get itself noticed?”

Friends, if I heard anyone say this about me or about my mom or my sister or my cousins or my female friends or anyone female in general, I would kick them so hard in the fucking balls.

The fact is, Tia heard this, and she didn’t even react. She heard this, and she still fell in love with Cobain. LIKE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SMOKING GIRL?! This guy just degraded you even if he didn’t know a single thing about you, and you’re fine with that?

I. Cannot.


This book is horrendous. The premise is laughable at best, the writing is migraine-inducing, the main character is a moron, and the love interest is a pathetic asshole who is as fleeting as a goldfish’s memory. You want my recommendation? Stay. Away. But feel free to read it to form your own conclusion – just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rating Report
Overall: 1.4
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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah :( It’s really that bad. It’s actually quite a miracle I didn’t DNF it o.O I would’ve done so in a heartbeat! But I received a physical copy so I at least had to see it through, I guess.

  1. says

    I am not reading the full review since I have the to review at some point. It is such a shame you did not like this one. However, I completely understand that you didin’t like this one since the government was unrealistic for you. There is nothing worse. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when authority goes off the rails, but when they go off the wall unrealistic, nothing is plausible anymore!

    Here is to a better read next time my dear! :) I hope I have a better read next time! xxx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries
    Alex :) recently posted…Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #1)My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I really hope you love this one, Alex. I remember you liking Siege! Were the writing the same, somehow? Like, all fragmented and choppy? In any case, the government thingy was really sketchy. I really, really couldn’t get into it, at ALL.

    • FayeFaye says

      Right? It’s just not feasible in any way, shape, or form. I mean, I can try to suspend my disbelief a little, but where were the NGOs and stuff like that? They would always try to be there, and the UN would always try to intervene to smooth things out. I would only think the premise was poorly-planned if they were left out of the picture.

    • FayeFaye says

      I know o_O I was expecting something grander but it was all such a lame excuse :S It doesn’t help that the antagonist was as cheesy as John Travolta x_x Saying all cheesy lines and crap, explaining stuff like to a 10 year old x_x ugh!

  2. says

    Well, now I know to stay WELL AWAY from this one! Plenty of books on my TBR list and wish list to add one that will give me a headache… thank you, but no thank you!
    Faye, so sorry to hear about your migraine but thanks a lot for being a trooper and reading and reviewing this one honestly so the rest of us can avoid it!
    Pili recently posted…Saturday Pages: Foretold by Rinda Elliott!!My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      You’re very welcome, Pili! It’s such a miracle I didn’t DNF 10 pages in @[email protected] I was already feeling the “not-for-me” vibes, but I had to push through because I felt a tug of obligation to finish it >_< But in any case, glad to take a bullet for the team!

  3. says

    Aww…I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you Faye! I can definitely see where you’re coming from though.

    It’s so improbable that the British government would go through such lengths to simply lift social classes higher. Sure, no government is 100% perfect, but, like you said, that is just ridiculous. If I’m not mistaken, the UK was one of the first governments to support human rights. They wouldn’t just let that ordeal go. It’s simply not logical. And the fact that this is all happening in 4 years? *facepalms* I seriously doubt it…

    And gosh…Tia sounds like such an annoying protagonist – from her robotic voice to her “woe-is-me” attitude to everything else. I got annoyed just reading the quotes you shared from the book!

    Anyhow, I don’t think I’m going to read this one as everything you’ve mentioned will probably bother me as well. Thanks for sharing though, and, as always, BRILLIANT review Faye! (And, if I do say so myself…probably more entertaining than the book itself!)
    Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf recently posted…Dangerous GirlsMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, it’s just not in the realm of feasible at all. The UK is one of those countries who would easily send aid to those in need in other countries. They’re full of groups and NGOs that advocate for human rights. For them to be nonexistent here is just ridiculous, even if the setting were set four years from now (and even then, even before the Bill would be known, they would try to stop it at all costs), and no sane British citizen would try to vote for someone into their government who’s so heartless (then again, I am NOT British, so I may not know… but I think I know enough at least to see that that’s common sense!)

      Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who got annoyed with her narration. Sometimes there were instances I’d just pause and rub my temple for a good 5 minutes.

      Thanks for stopping by, Zoe! :)

    • FayeFaye says

      Agreed. I could probably understand it if it were, like, 50 years from now? That can be imagined. The 1900s were very different compared to the 1950s, and the 1950s were very different compared to the 2000s, so in that span of time, a government could easily change sides and everything (unless of course we got something akin to the Arabian Spring, but that’s unlikely…)

    • FayeFaye says

      Nope, totally not at all. And even then, there should be countermeasures done not by rioters but by third party groups like NGOs to easen the tension. I surely hope so too, Mands!

  4. says

    *covers hysterical laugher* Ohhh, I agree. I SO AGREE. But, um, *coughs* I’m trying not to launch into my own full scale rant along with yours. BUT WHAT THE HECK WAS THIS BOOK? I think I could’ve overlooked just about everything (except you know, she’s supposed to be this genius hacker, but she’s kind of clueless), my issue was that it was set in 2018. Like, hellooooo. that’s 3 and a half years from now. I’m pretty extra sure the world cannot possibly be like that in 3.5 years. IT IS INSANE. Sure the governments of most countries are bonkers, but this takes bonkers to a whole new level. It’s just not logical. I don’t like illogical books. *sigh* So yus, 100% agree.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #22My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha! I read your rant-review of this a few weeks ago and was extremely wary since then. I should’ve taken your word because the migraine that I got from this was SO not worth it.

  5. Larissa says

    Oh god, I’ve seen Cait’s negative review for this one and now yours. This book has now been officially crossed off any sort of TBR for me lol. Your review really does highlight points about Riot that would undeniably drive me up the wall.

    I do agree with on governments by the way. Corruption, power and leadership really do go hand in hand. ANYWAY. The time frame for this one seems way off. 2018 is FOUR years from now, I really don’t think we’ll stoop so low to go for sterilization in four years. Though a lot can change in four years, I also don’t think the world will go to shit. You’re totally right with mentioning NGO’s and the UN. There’s precautions to avoid this sort of gong show. I can suspend my disbelief for novels, but Riot seems to take this to a whole new level. I think novels need to have some sort of room for ANY sort of possibility for me to go on board with them.

    Tia’s narration really does sound unbearable. The quotes you have showcased just demonstrate how short and fragmented sentences can not only lead to headaches, but also juvenile sounding characters. Which really is one of my worst pet peeves. The fact this girl is also some sort of superstar hacker yet narrates this way seems even more annoying. LOL, Tia even acknowledges her stupidity regarding cell phone usage? Yet continues to use it????? That’s a whole new level of ignorance omfg.

    That quote that you included with the love interest being sexist is frankly disgusting. I have no idea how Tia could /ever/ fall in love with somebody who would say that. I honestly am so mad just reading that quote. frkljrelkjrelkjlkejlrekjfredhkjfdn,jngne. Can I slap him????

    Great review Faye! You definitely highlighted why I’ll never get within 10 meters of this book.

    • FayeFaye says

      Aw, too bad! I definitely would have loved to see your possible ranty thoughts about this ;) You can be very expressive, too! Haha.

      Yes, there will always be checks and balances, even if they’re in the form of these little groups of volunteers. And come on, the UN! They wouldn’t let this slide at all, and I’m saddened of their nonexistence here.

      I’ve hated fragmented narration ever since, so it’s really a no wonder that this one gave me a huge headache. Its aim was to probably be a fast-paced one, but it was at the expense of smooth-flowing transition :(

      AND YES. I was so disgusted from the very beginning. My opinion of him did not change AT ALL till the very end.

    • FayeFaye says

      I know! The UK would never do that. Maybe they will in 50 years, but definitely not in a very near future (which is, like, less than 4 years now). Thank you so much!

  6. says

    Wow, how in the world did this book get published?! And what in the world is with Tia’s narration – no wonder you got a read you poor thing *hugs* I’m honestly surprised you managed to get to the end of this book, I would not have made it as far as you. The whole book just sounds stupid, I didn’t read the blurb but went back to look at it when you mentioned how ridiculous it was. HOLY CRAP BURN IT WITH FIRE. It makes no sense whatsoever. And wtf, the gov wants to control the lower classes…you don’t have to stop them breeding in order to do that. -_____-
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…The Sunday Wrap-Up (#6) – PTA TFIOS Marathon with Jaz (Fiction in Fiction in Fiction)My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, the narration was super migraine-inducing. I have a friend who liked her other book, Siege, though, so I hope this is an isolated case. I liked the premise of that one better, and I hope the narration is different.

    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah. The narration is like that throughout, so you can just imagine how I really tried to stay focused. I think I deserve a medal!

  7. Aimee says

    I totally can’t see this stuff happening any time in the near future. And I DEFINITELY can’t deal with that type of writing/narration. Some people find that poetic and sophisticated, but I just find it boring and bland. Cardboard’s more interesting. Plus sexism? I’m already throwing this book into my mental trash can. (I do have one.)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, same here. It’s just too far-fetched for me. I can probably believe it in another time, and maybe even in another world, because you can always manipulate the history and politics for the government to justify that, but in our world and time? No, not really. The sexism was the worst! I totally slackened my jaw when I saw Cobain say that @[email protected]

  8. says

    Damn it I really want to read this review, but spoilers. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to read this book, but just in case I ever come across it in the library and think, “what the hey, I may as well”, I’m not going to read the review lol. I’m just going to bookmark this and if I don’t get around to reading this book in the next few months then I’ll read the review :P

    p.s. ONEW GIF! woohoo ;D
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, understandable! Don’t worry! I’m glad I put the disclaimer there then, so I wouldn’t be doing… any damage.. upon you :P Let me know your thoughts when you do get to read this!

  9. says

    Wow, this one sounds really bad. And not in the usual way. I as well don’t really understand the point behind introducing a sterilization bill and inciting riots just to reallocate resources…I guess they hope the kids they sterilize will die out eventually and only the educated would be procreating? It just seems like a dumb way to go about it.

    As for the sexist remarks, no thanks. Great review.
    Kate @ The Book Bee recently posted…REVIEW: City of Bones by Cassandra ClareMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      It is a dumb way to go about it, and such a waste of resources too. Why the hell would you want to anger the large percentage of the masses anyway? In my country, they’re the most valuable come election time, especially since you can manipulate them. I’m not saying that’s justifiable, by the way; this practice actually disgusts me, but in a politician’s perspective that makes perfect sense.

    • FayeFaye says

      I know! If I were the one who heard him say such an awful thing, he wouldn’t be getting near me, at least within 15 meters lest I kick his balls to kingdom come. Thank you, Rachel!

  10. says

    I’ve not even heard of this book, but just from the sound of it I have absolutely no plans on reading it lol So many of the sentences from your quotes are so short and choppy. Nothing is being described at all. I think I’ll pass! Thanks for the honest opinion :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Barely anything was, to be honest. It was one action verb to another. I forgot to mention the oddly placed flashbacks. There are times we’re in the middle of an action then suddenly we get flashbacks right then and there. It was weird.

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Charlie! I love the new layout, too. It looks way classier and more sophisticated. It’s understandable! I really hope you like it way more than I did. Perhaps we can even discuss our differing perspectives! :)

    • FayeFaye says

      I know, it really does sound robotic. They’re all so choppy and fragmented, that there never felt any smooth narration at all. I can tell you though that it did give me a migraine. This kind of writing does that to me >_<

  11. says

    Oh hell no. I’m not touching this one with a ten foot pole. Gosh, you potatoes really know how to pick them. I love my dystopians, but this goes beyond being ridiculous. They all sounds like morons. Why, oh why! Thank goodness you read this, now the rest of us don’t have to. Brilliantly honest review. Loved the snark!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you so much, Kelly, and for stopping by. It was either me or Rashika, so I decided to take the bullet for the team, mehehe. I really think it was the execution, but I’ll read more from this author, hopeful the next narration won’t be like this.

  12. says

    This one hadn’t made it to my radar at all but now i’m kind of glad about that. I feel like this book would just end up being a MASSIVE headache and books shouldn’t be that.
    Great review, hopefully your next read is much better.
    lily recently posted…What I Thought Was True: ReviewMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Well, it really did turn out to be one, a massive headache I mean. I had to put it down a couple of times, that’s why it took me a while to finish it.

  13. says

    Bwahahaha ranty reviews are the best and probably end up being better than the book – thing – itself >.< I don'T even think I'd seen his one around before but I'm glad to know to never add it to my TBR O_O It sounds like one hell of a mess. Is it just me or are dystopians getting much much worse? I mean, maybe they're going for who can be the most ridiculous lol.

    And "Even Simon Cowell would be saying “bloody hell”" BAHAHAHA! That writing actually reminds me of the writing for The Lost by Sarah somebody that I DNFed after like 20 pages (Though I think Rashika loved it) so I know how annoying that writing can be! I don't think I would have gotten very far in this novel for that very fact alone!

    And the romance… like that excerpt: wtf? Is that a joke? And she heard and still fell in love with him. STAHP!!!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, thank you, Giselle! I agree, the genre is starting to depreciate, and it’s worrying me. I’ve yet to find a Dystopian after Red Rising that would be up to par. Perhaps ideas are running out? I don’t mind a rehash as long as the execution is well-done… I just want something to wow me!

      Oh, I never realized LOST by Sarah Durst was written this way. I’ll have to check it out sometime since Rashika loved it, but now I’m wary because ugh choppy and fragmented writing is really just NOT for me.

      And I know! The romance! :( It’s ridiculous. I would never have gone with Cobain after his saying such a thing!

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, even you didn’t call it a book! And I’m glad you had fun :) It was tempting to just rage throughout, but I decided to just make it a little humorous, although maybe I’ve made it a little too snarky. In any case, I agree with regards to Cobain – a major YUCK!

    • FayeFaye says

      I was lucky to chance upon that KPop gif. It’s so accurate in what I felt ;P And my teacher would’ve had cardiac arrest! D: