Where are you when you’re watched 24/7, no matter what you’re doing? In a cage.
Computers track Zane’s every move. A black band around his ankle monitors him every moment of every day. Zane understands that his parents want to know what’s going on with him, but sometimes it’s just too much. There’s no way he can just flop on his bed after school and chill out, and not be on the whole time. He’s trapped.
On this particular afternoon, there’s a package on his desk and a message from his father. It’s the newest thing in electronic communication, the Gizzard, and it will allow Zane to talk to anyone in the world just by thinking about it. Just what he needs—more togetherness. But his father is so excited about it, that Zane reaches out and turns it on. And that’s when his life changes forever. You see, the Gizzard not only allows Zane to talk to anyone in the world, it also allows him to talk to any animals in the world. And the animals are not happy with the direction science is heading.
It all starts with Hugo, his dog. Zane doesn’t realize how unhappy Hugo is until he wakes up one morning to discover that his ankle band is gone, and the computers that run his life are silent. It’s what he wanted—no communication in or out—but suddenly it’s scary. He’s never been on his own, and he doesn’t know what to do. Without his controller, he’s more alone than he’s ever been.
But when he gets it back, Zane realizes something, something he’d never ever thought about before. Tied into the computer, he isn’t free or in control of himself, the way he’d always felt he was. He’s a prisoner of the computers, and completely at their mercy. Unless he takes off the controller again….
What’s going to happen in a world where you can hear anyone’s and everyone’s thoughts, including the ones they don’t want to share, and don’t want you to know? Zane is about to find out.
This booktalk is written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, librarian, consultant, and internationally known expert on booktalking.