All Good Children

Catherine Austen. Orca, $19.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-55469-824-0
Austen’s first novel for teens wears its influences proudly—characters watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives—while delivering an entertaining and creepy story. In this dystopian future, the company town of New Middletown is a rare safe area, a walled community built by Chemrose Inter-national to support its huge geriatric home business. Rights have been stripped away across the country, and in New Middletown, students are ordered to take a “vaccination” that makes them docile and eager to follow all rules. Rebellious 15-year-old artist Max and his friend Dallas avoid the first dose (thanks to Max’s mother, a nurse opposed to the program), but they know that their attempts to fool everyone will eventually be detected. Austen (Walking Backward) keeps the story moving with a well-rounded supporting cast (including Max’s younger sister; his quirky hacker friend; Xavier; and a gym coach also against the treatments), and she adds enough detail to her world to make the plot believable. Few will be surprised by the ending (or most of the plot points), but the social commentary and character development make it a worthwhile journey. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Open Ebook - 308 pages - 978-1-55469-825-7
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-1-4598-1387-8
Hardcover - 978-1-55469-826-4
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