Have you ever felt like reality TV was a complete “Waste of Space?” Have I got a book for you?
Occasionally, you read such a fresh, unique and funny book that you immediately begin pressing it into the hands of everyone you know, demanding they read it, whether they care or not.
Then you get books like Waste of Space. A book so offbeat, weird and downright strange that you can’t help but feel guilty for inflicting it on someone else without the proper warnings.
“Waste of Space,” a young adult satire that lampoons reality TV and the culture it creates, doesn’t try to reel reluctant readers in. It is unapologetically bonkers.
You know from the very first line of reports, apparently compiled by an angry college intern, whether you will like this book or not. The book is essentially a stack of audio transcripts, official reports and excerpts that detail the train wreck that is the TV show, “Waste of Space.” In the show, a group of teenagers are shot into space, and the last one who isn’t voted out wins.
While the mocking of reality shows and the telling of stories through transcripts aren’t new, “Waste of Space” finds a way to remain fresh by poking fun at the audience of reality TV shows just as much as the process of making one.
One of the most clever aspects of “Waste of Space” is the way the cast of characters are assembled. Since it is supposed to be a reality show, the book can get away with having overly tragic, stereotypical or dramatic characters since they are expected to be so. Reality TV is way more fun when no one involved has an ounce of reason.
As much as “Waste of Space” gets away with because due to its sheer craziness factor (it is hard to criticize literary style when rubber duck memes convey some of the plot points), it stumbles when it comes to pacing. Since the reader is in on the big twist of the novel from the very beginning, most of the struggles that the contestants go through in the first half of the book, while funny, are not worrisome.
While there is a section of the book that is gripping, it happens far too late for the book to be considered suspenseful. Yet, the action scenes that make up the parts of the novel that were suspenseful become messy and unclear due to the unique format, making it obvious that the book was playing to its strengths when it sticks with satire.
“Waste of Space” isn’t a great book by any means. It is not going to be the next great American novel. It has significant problems with its pacing and ability to create suspense. You either think it’s hilarious or you are faintly disturbed. Despite all that, the insane characters and concept carries what could have been a train wreck of a book. While I understand it isn’t for everyone, it is the first book in a long time where I have taken photos of the dialogue and sent it to friends while cackling hysterically.