Scored – A New Dystopian Novel

Today is the book birthday of a wonderful novel called Scored, by Lauren McLaughlin. It was sent to me a couple of years ago for a blurb and, as you can see below, I gave it one.

Scored is what the kids these days are calling a “dystopian novel.” But it’s not set in the far future, like, say, Uglies. It takes place only a few decades from now, and the biggest change isn’t some huge civilization-ending meltdown, but a little thing called the Score.

In this future society, everything you do until age 18 is carefully monitored by surveillance cameras, and all of it adds up to your score—a number between 1 and 100. As Lauren puts it here:

How you walk, how often you swear, who you hang out with, how much time you spend on homework are all fed into the system. The software constantly learns from these observations, fine tuning its scoring algorithm until its results are indisputable. The highest scorers get into the best colleges, qualify for the best jobs, earn the most money. The lowest scorers fulfill their destiny as misfits, delinquents, and the permanently dependent. No one can argue with the accuracy of the score because there are no exceptions to the rule. Society doesn’t allow them any more.

It’s one of those books that, like Uglies, might seem to be a straightforward exaggeration of today’s world. High school students live and die by their SAT’s, after all. You can’t get into a good school, and thus have a good future, without a high score. (Everyone tells you so, anyway.) And, of course, cameras are popping up everywhere these days.

But worrying about high-stakes testing and surveillance cams is different from living in a world where they’ve become all-powerful. And that’s what a good dystopian novel does, it takes you into a future and shows you what it’s like to live there.

The main character of Scored is Imani, a high school senior whose score has been in the 90’s her whole life. In other words, she’s a good student and a good kid. But her best friend Cady has started hanging out with an unscored boy, which means Cady’s score is falling fast. And since Peer Group is one of the five pillars of the Score, Imani’s own standing will soon suffer. I won’t spoil anything else, but trust me, the story gets much more intense and complicated as it heads toward its conclusion.

If you’re facing the SATs (or whatever test your school system uses to create your “permanent record”) you should check out Scored. It will be in bookstores everywhere, online and in the real world, starting today.

Click here to read more from Lauren herself.

(Also, I just signed a metric buttload of books at Books of Wonder here in NYC. Click here to mail-order these signed copies. There are some of every series I’ve ever written, so call them if you don’t see the one you want. They probably have it.)

22 thoughts on “Scored – A New Dystopian Novel




  2. I must admit that I love novels that take place in a “near” future and make the reader think what it would be like if x, y, and z happened or if we let society become completely careless. They’re very nicely thought-out make us think about society and the world we live in. Excellent!

  3. Looks interesting. I live in an ACT area of the world, and sometimes it feels like your worthiness is being judged on a scale of 1 to 36.

  4. Wow. My attention is captured. I love novels where it’s in the future and society is even more messed up than it is now and basically humanity is fully dependant on technology and people of the now just can’t believe that this stuff would really happen, though it has in these books and is widely accepted. Here I come, Barnes & Nobles ;P

  5. Hi! Barking cool looking book πŸ™‚
    Congrats Scott on having the honor of writing a blurb
    I have to read peeps first. And the crucible and beowulf for school as the very first.

  6. Sounds very interesting. If our library didn’t have such issues with getting books in I would go check it out. They don’t even have Uglies half the time. Still, if I can find this book I shall most certainly read it! Sounds very good.

    A Bit Unlikely,

  7. *reads above comment* *sort of hyperventilates because there was a real live author who wasn’t Scott over here*

    Haven’t read it yet, but I’m planning to! πŸ™‚ I will definitely send you an email when I finish, though. (The sample chapter was awesome, so, yeah.)

    That’s eloquence, my friends. *headdesk*

  8. I’m not huge on dystopian novels, but if Scott suggests it, I’m sure it’s good. Maybe I’ll check it out!

  9. I’ve read every book you’ve ever suggested on your site, Mr. Westerfeld, and this one is no different! Am purchasing it for my Kindle on Mac now. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait, looks great!

  10. Ooohhhhh…..just got done reading The Iron Thorn (steakpunk+Holly Black/Cassandra Clare writing= Happy WordMaster) so I will try to pick this up in between escaping Templars, surviving desert plane crashes, and flying around on a giant red bird.

  11. My library doesn’t have it in print or ebook form, but I just downloaded Amazon’s sample onto my Kindle, and the first chapter (or however much it gave me) was awesome. But then again, dystopian novels are kind of my guilty pleasure.

  12. I absolutely love the idea behind this book! I’m sort of experimenting with writing a novel of my own, and it has a similar idea–but the whole “ranking” dilio isn’t exactly the center of the plot. I didn’t plan on including it at all, to be honest, but it just sort of…happened. It’s probably because I funnel complete self-expression of my life through my main character (still not sure if that’s good or bad…) And I had just read Extras a year before (Face Rank was genius). I try to be original, but I think complete originality is sort of impossible these days.
    So I guess it goes without saying that I can totally relate. I mean, in my world, I am essentially a number. I am every point of every assignment , every percent of every grade. I am my GPA. I am my SAT score.
    Personally, I think the whole thing just SUCKS. Colleges stress the scores way too much, and the test really is made out to be “life-or-death.” Not to mention the insanely expensive SAT prep courses most serious students pay for, which have turned the SAT into more or less a Supreme Affluency Test (get it?). Before I go on a compete tangent, let me just say that I am DEFINITELY reading this book. I’m actually getting kind of excited. I haven’t read a non-school book in over a month. I feel so deprived.

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