Access Restricted - Gregory Scott Katsoulis

I’m really sad this is over.


I can’t believe how much I fell in love with this world and Speth and all the characters and just everything.


I mean, it’s horrific. It’s awful. But I was just wondering yesterday if it was weird that we pay for phone calls, we pay to send letters to each other, so is it really that different to paying for the right to speak? I know that what we are paying for is the service, but we’re still paying to communicate. Some of us spend outrageous amounts to communicate with each other. I would know, I probably spent around $1000 on long-distance calling cards from Australia to England over a 2/3 year period before Facebook invented its messaging service.


I think whether you enjoy this series will hinge on a combination of being able to suspend your disbelief and accepting that this could actually happen, as I believe it could. I don’t mean that it WILL happen, just that I already believe that we currently live in a world where it is extraordinarily difficult for the poor to get out of poverty, where you need money to make money, the gap between rich and poor is expanding, people try to make money in the most outrageous ways, and people accept the society in which they are raised. Not to mention bystander syndrome being an actual thing. Innocent people die every day. People are shitty and that is why dystopian fiction is so awesome. It’s not such a huge jump to believe that one day ads will chase people down a street and those who can’t pay won’t have the right to see something and that people will try to make an obscure word common in the hopes of making money from its usage. I mean come on, what was up with ‘on fleek’?


This book is vastly different to the previous one. There’s a road trip, a courtroom scene, and other things I don’t want to mention for fear of spoilers. I loved how Speth was trying to make the best of a very bad situation, and she didn’t even want to lead a revolution but she didn’t really have a choice. They stumbled over some good fortune, faced terrible ordeals that made me cringe in sympathy, and fought for what they believed in: that their world was fundamentally wrong, even the laws, and it needed to change. I also liked how the adults weren’t simply erased in this like they are with a lot of other YA: Speth wanted advice from an adult, she wanted to turn to someone, and they were there when she needed them. It made the world feel more real and less kid-adventure.


I thought once again how talented Katsoulis was to make me believe in this horrible future. The worldbuilding was sublime and although there were times when I reached the limit on my suspension of disbelief, I just went with the flow and accepted it as part of this bizarre over-capitalised nightmare. Speth’s limited knowledge, for example, helps the reader learn as she does, about geography and history that has been out of reach for her because of her poverty.


I loved seeing the relationships between the characters, too. Not only between Speth and the people who orbit her like her own sister who isn’t as smart as Speth and kind of wants everything to go back to the way it was, but also between Margot and her spunky and adorable little sister, and Speth’s other friends like Nancee and Norflo.


I also noticed, as I did in the first book, that Katsoulis loves words and names that begin with S. It’s as noticeable as JK Rowling’s love of the letter H, and I wonder why that is.


Overall, this is a brilliant duology, and I wish there was another book coming out after this, even though almost everything seemed pretty wrapped up to me. I’d love to see how the consequences of the final scene play out across this world. In the meantime, I’m going to track down some paper copies so I can get the full impact of reading this instead of listening to the wonderful audiobook.