cover image Waste of Space

Waste of Space

Gina Damico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-544-63316-2

In this tongue-in-cheek sendup of reality TV, 10 teens are given the chance to go into space. What they don’t know is that none of it is real: the launch, the spaceplane they are living in, and the problems they face are fabricated by the show’s sleazy production company. The cast members of Waste of Space range from deadly earnest (Jamarkus) and irredeemably geeky (Louise) to naïve (Snout) and normal (Nico), not to mention “the four Golden Tokens: gay, foreigner, disabled, and orphan.” All that, and a pig. As the show progresses and people are voted off the ship, things get out of hand, with tempers fraying, equipment malfunctioning, and inexplicable phenomena suggesting actual extraterrestrial interference. The story unfolds through transcripts, cast confessionals, hidden camera footage, and post-show editing, creating an over-the-top and unpredictable adventure that walks the line between plausibility and absurdity. Damico (Wax) revels in reality show archetypes but throws in a few twists, too. The increasing ambiguity, though, makes it hard to decide how seriously readers should take the conflict and its resolution. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (July)