Cover Image: STUNG


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Member Reviews

Cullen Scott’s young adult fiction is horrifying and if marketed correctly could find an equal adult market.

In this neo cyber futuristic thriller we are living in a world where everyone has a chip implanted into their brains which turns on at the age of 16.  If you are agreeable to this, the world is your oyster and if not, then you live off the grid and not able to have access to what society has to offer.  

We are in a world where we have two 15 years old whose chips are about to turn off but what makes them interesting is that they now people who live off the grid and they have no contact.  They are looking at what this unknown means and what it also means to make an adult decision to have the chips turn on.  

In theory, this is a great premise but with its 1984 big brother fabric woven through its plot gives nods towards government control.  He also looks at what happens when things go awry.

The characters are instantly likable and able to give the reader easy focus.  There is some clunky dialogue but this is very rare and as this is a futuristic thriller it is very possible that they would communicate in this way though looking at the world around me, I wonder if future generations would talk at all.  I am picking at things that does not have any reflection of my enjoyment of but there are some shades of other young adult fiction that has some reflection on this book.

Overall, the premise is very good and the characters are well developed and handled.  There are some plot twists that keep it from being original but there is enough here to make this an enjoyable scary romp and one that should find its readership.  It does leave room for a couple of sequels to keep the world opened and able to be more explored.
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In a near future world almost everyone is chipped. Those who are chipped know that if they ever kill or arrange the death of another person, they will themselves immediately die. The positive outcome of being 'stung' (when the chip is programmed) is that the murder rate globally has plummeted. The system, however, is far from perfect. What if you don't want to be fully networked and your every movement monitored? What if your chip doesn't work?  You have a problem.  Those who aren't chipped or whose chips don't work are named disconnects and have become fugitives - unable to enter schools, shops or engage with everyday activities. 

This story centres around two teens - Talon and Sofia - and what happens to them when they are programmed with what seem to be defective chips. 

This is clearly a book which would appeal to young adult readers of dystopian fiction (and older adults who also like young adult dystopian fiction - think Hunger Games, Divergent etc). Perhaps not as well written as some of those comparators it was nonetheless an excellent read - with a constant back and forth between the perspectives of Talon and Sofia and those who have the power to wreak havoc on their lives.  

It rounded off to a neat ending but still leaves open the possibility of further stories of how Talon and Sofia survive in the next phase of their lives ... and I for one would be keen to see a second book in the series.
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STUNG is a unique, sci-fi/techno thriller with a wide cast of characters and an interesting plot. In the future, most of humanity has a chip embedded in them that is ultimately a deterrent to murder or other violent crimes. While murder rates have declined, so have personal freedoms and privacy. Is safety worth giving up one's freedom? The story is told through multiple POVs; I particularly enjoyed the chapters by Shadow, Sofia, and Talon. Although, with that said, I thought that the Warden was a well-developed villainous character. STUNG definitely kept me thinking long after I finished reading the book about it's plot and the choices the characters make throughout. Overall, the originality and the characters were the biggest highlights for me.
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This book was a bit different to what I usually ready but I found it very interesting! The plot was unnerving (in a good way) and the first few pages of the book pulled me in. I enjoyed that we got to follow different characters and how they were feeling about getting their chips turned on.

Unfortunately the book was missing something for me and I ended up putting it down for a bit before finishing it. The writing felt a bit informal outside of dialogue at some points with expressions like "Too easy!", "Way too easy!"" "Damn!" all occurring on the same page.
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I found certain elements of this book quite unsettling, and I am not even a parent.

The book follows a number of characters; Tallon, Shadow, and Sofia being the main ones, each character tells the story in their own chapters.  It follows a world where everyone born has a chip implanted in their heads, and if they kill another person then they too die via this chip.  It has stopped murder, but not everyone wants their chips turned on at 16, and many run off to live off grid.  This story follows Tallon and Sofia, who are about to have their chips turned on, and how their lives begin to spin wildly out of control.

There are elements of this I hated, which unsettled me I should say, and the fact you are taking free control away from people at 16, not to mention having to live with certain consequences if things out of your own control happen, horrifying.  It is a dystopian world without even knowing it is one.  To take people's free will away, to discriminate a group who want to be able to make their own choices, and of course can you really trust anyone who puts a chip in your head?

This is a great book, one that has you digging your toes into the carpet and clenching your jaw without even realising it.  A must read and a hope for a another book to come.
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this was a really interesting concept, it did what I was hoping for and was invested in what was happening. I had never heard of the genre of techno-thriller of liberation but I'm glad I was able to read this. The characters worked really well and the concept is terrifying and works great. I look forward to reading more from Cullen Scott.

"Drake knew Talon was well aware of the guardianship program. Every kid on the playground teased each other about becoming one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys—stuck with a guardian forever, never being allowed to grow up. He remembered Talon taking it hard when his friends told him he would end up “a toddler for life.”
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