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Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | By: Traci

Review: All Good Children by Catherine Austen (ARC)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary: Max lives in a poverty stricken, future world where cars are rarely used anymore and children that do not do well in school are sent to either an institution if they are considered unable to be educated, a trade school if they can't do anything else, or academic school if they exceed expectations. Max isn't a kid that people would expect to stay in academic school. He's creative and he has a trouble making side. He likes to graffiti and playing pranks on teachers. However, the school systems have a way to change that, it's called NESTING. All children in the school system must undergo nesting but it's not a training or a class, it's a 'vaccine' that makes children 'zombies'; that is, they only care about school work, staying in line, staying home and keeping everyone else in line. Max manages to escape the vaccinations, but maybe not for long. Max and his mom decide that maybe the best thing for them is to leave town and never come back.

My thoughts: I was pretty disappointed with this book. It sounds like an excellent story and it really is interesting. It's not like it doesn't have a good story to read, it just doesn't hit the mark with what a great dystopian novel should have. At least in my opinion.

I really liked the idea that the school systems, already dealing with a lot of other issues in the world like poverty, expensive cars and gas and terrible wages, must do something to help force their students to behave and actually care about things other than creativity and getting into trouble. Teachers and parents are simply giving up because they're frustrated and in my opinion, lazy and they'd rather not fight with kids over things that kids do. So they decide to start drugging these children. The sick part? It really is a way to make money. So, is this story believable? Yes, to me it is. I can see it happening. However I just really disliked the way this story was executed.

I think a big turn off for me simply was the writing style. It seemed to vary a bit in different parts, some of which really made me want to skip over. Also, I guess I expected the 'zombie' thing to be a bit more creepy than irritating and sad. Also, why on earth were so many parents willing to allow their children to undergo this treatment and just turn a blind eye to it? Is it possible for society to really produce that many terrible children that do nothing but annoy, vandalize and refuse to do their school work? That idea is really hard to process.

This is a quick read though if you're looking for a slight dystopian novel to read

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