In a society where our headlines seem full of both austerity measures and worry about the futures of the young, Riot blends the two into a sadly believable future where the government has decided that youths with no stable future will be forcibly sterilised so as to reduce the strain on the state. As the policy begins to be enforced, Tia, the daughter of the minister who introduced it, is determined to fight back despite her own future being assured.
The novel tackles many pertinent current issues, such as the manipulation of statistics, the unreliability of the media and the effects of scaremongering. The increasing importance of online activism is also key – Tia, hiding behind the name of Eve, is an online leader of an activism group, along with the mysterious Adam, who she has never met. The book opens with Tia at a protest gone horribly wrong, and she suddenly finds herself forced into hiding, unsure who to trust. Cobain, who Tia believed to be a rioter giving peaceful protesters a bad name, turns out to be not as she expected, and her insistence she can trust the unknown Adam starts to weaken. When Tia discovers that the public aren’t being given the true facts, all chaos breaks loose.
Whilst this is an exciting premise, the story itself unfortunately doesn’t quite measure up. There any many thrilling moments and dramatic scenes are well composed, but sadly the characters cannot make the storyline fully believable. As one example, Tia’s father seems like a caricature of an evil villain in his determination to enforce his bill, which makes the messages being portrayed less subtle, and Tia herself doesn’t always ring true. That said, Riot is certainly a thought provoking read in the current climate, and shows the power of teenagers to enforce change.