Monday, October 19, 2009

Rash by Pete Hautman



Consumption of alcohol: Illegal.
Football and other "violent" sports: Illegal.
Ownership of guns, chain saws, and/or large dogs: Illegal.
Body piercings, tattoos: Illegal.
Set at a time later this century, and the United Safer States of America (USSA) has become a nation obsessed with safety. Everyone is monitored at school, a simple push of another student in the playground can get you marched off to the authorities, alarms go off.  Bo Marsten is a teenager growing up in the USSA, he knows the laws were created to protect the people. His Dad, and brother are already in prison.  Bo's mum would love him to be the 'good one', Bo's grandad lives with them and he fondly remembers the old days of the 90s before the rules changed.  But when Bo's temper flares out of control because he decides not to take the drugs they issue to keep everyone on an even keel, he's sentenced to three years of manual labor.  Bo's sent to prison, living and working in a factory in the Canadian tundra. You will have to read the book to find out exactly what they are making in the factory!

The warden running the place is a total control freak and insane, and the safety of the inmates is not high on his list of priorities, however winning at games is!  Outside the perimeter fence of the prison are a whole bunch of very hungry polar bears and Bo has heard the stories of those who tried to escape and can see the evidence.

It's a great book, makes you think, makes you consider what personal freedom means and that making laws for every tiny thing might take us in an interesting direction.  I think the author is trying to make a point here.
Rash has been nominated for one of the highest awards in teen fiction, an ALA award.  I highly recommend it.
You can read Chapers 1 and 2 on the Simon and Schuster website

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