review by Maryom
Late 21st century America has found a new way of dealing with criminals - advances in DNA analysis means that boys with a predisposition to violence and criminal behaviour can be identified, removed from their families and brought up in strictly run correctional schools. Within this Goodhouse system, the boys are brought up to be obedient and docile, striving for the goal of being allowed to rejoin the outside world as good upright workers. Like so many systems though it's open to abuse..
James was taken from his family at the age of 3 and brought up within a series of these Goodhouse establishments; his life has been an endless round of Goodhouse-approved books and videos encouraging a productive, well-behaved role when they're reintroduced into society. Now 17, he's getting his first taste of the outside world on a Community Day - a day which should have cemented all his aspirations but instead leads to them falling apart. He spends the day with a 'normal' family but within that family is Bethany, a girl of his own age (and remember he's been brought up in a school of only boys) who proves to be the catalyst that brings down his world.
Goodhouse is a rivetting read - part action thriller and part chilling dystopian vision of a not-so-distant future.
The world, of course, isn't the straightforward prosperous place James has been led to believe in. Various factions have their differing views on what should happen to the Goodhouse boys - not all pleasant - and even those trusted with their care are exploiting them. James' expectations of a respectable life are threatened as much by his teachers and carers as the sudden downturn in his behaviour. His only hope of survival is to find out exactly what is going on behind the scenes at Ione Goodhouse, and somehow bring it to the attention of the outside world - obviously a plan that has its own dangers.
Behind the story, lurks the science- and it's chilling. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that DNA researchers could identify a gene associated with criminal behaviour and it's too easy to envisage a society that would set up houses of correction for anyone born with it. Of course, get a group that no one really cares about effectively imprisoned, and it's a license for the jailers to do as they want. Can it ever be right to step in and control peoples lives, even when it's ostensibly for their own good?
Taken together, the two aspects make an exciting, thought-provoking read for both adults and teens.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - DoubledayGenre -dystopian