Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White

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HarperCollins, 2005
(11+) A compulsive thriller set in 2083, this historical science fiction book will sure to be a winner with readers who like their adventure spiced with a bit of history. In this future world, nobody goes to school – instead they watch EduTV. When they turn 14, only the rich can afford to go on to high school and university, and the poor scrabble for any type of work from the few jobs available. Five teenagers, Andrew, Polly, Robert, Billy, and Grace, hope to have their fortunes reversed when they are selected to be contestants on a reality TV show, Antarctic Survivor, where they will enact Scott's ill-fated trip to the South Pole in 1912.
White has written a nail biting, exciting story. The suspense of whether the 14-year-olds will be able to survive as they face blizzards, crevasses, frostbite and lack of food is quite rivetting. She cleverly intertwines information about Scott's expedition taken from diaries and letters with the reality TV adventures that face her five protagonists. At the same time she depicts a chilling future, where TV has become an obsession and the evil Secretary of Entertainment has the power to implant digital cameras in her contestants' eyes and insist that they face extreme danger to ensure that the ratings are good.
The teen characters are well developed and readers will warm to them as they sympathise with their weaknesses and cheer on their strengths and courage. Members of the production crew are also well portrayed and the author explores how difficult it is for them to be brave and help the contestants when threatened by the authorities.
This is a compelling read, exciting and well researched.
Pat Pledger