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All Good Children

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It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, D It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, Dallas, escape the treatment, but must pretend to be "zombies" while they watch their freedoms and hopes decay. When Max's family decides to take Dallas with them into the unknown world beyond New Middletown's borders, Max's creativity becomes an unexpected bonus rather than a liability.


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It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, D It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, Dallas, escape the treatment, but must pretend to be "zombies" while they watch their freedoms and hopes decay. When Max's family decides to take Dallas with them into the unknown world beyond New Middletown's borders, Max's creativity becomes an unexpected bonus rather than a liability.

30 review for All Good Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    My Summary: Life hasn't been what you'd call 'easy' for Max - ever since his father died three years ago, his mother, his sister, and himself have been forced to uproot their lives. Going from being filthy rich to just scraping by, Max is pretty angry about the way his life is - especially because people in New Middletown treat him like he's worthless now. Max strikes back with his art - sprawling graffiti scenes painted on every surface that will hold paint. Most would call him a trouble-maker, My Summary: Life hasn't been what you'd call 'easy' for Max - ever since his father died three years ago, his mother, his sister, and himself have been forced to uproot their lives. Going from being filthy rich to just scraping by, Max is pretty angry about the way his life is - especially because people in New Middletown treat him like he's worthless now. Max strikes back with his art - sprawling graffiti scenes painted on every surface that will hold paint. Most would call him a trouble-maker, but Max manages to do all this while maintaining an A+ average at an academic school, so he gets away with a lot. Until strange things start happening to the kids in New Middletown, and Max can't shake the suspicion that it's being caused by the parents in the city. As everyone he cares about begins to change - into what he calls 'zombies - Max must fight to protect the only things he has left: his family and his art. My Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this novel for a number of reasons: the first of which being that it's a dystopian, but it's not too far in the future, so it's easy to envision Max's world. The second reason being that it begs the question: when does government control and involvement in our lives go too far? I also really enjoyed the writing. The author did a great job with imagery, painting a desolate landscape inside my head. And she didn't shy away from emotion, either: unlike with a lot of protagonists, you can really see how much Max cares about his mom and little sister, along with his best friend Dallas - you can feel his desperation towards not being able to help or protect the people he loves. His emotions come across very strongly to the reader, which I love; how many times have you read a book where something happens and the protagonist goes, "oh no... this sucks"? I know I've had a quite a few, and this novel was a refreshing change from that. Final Thoughts: I strongly recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of realistic dystopians, and to anyone who hasn't really ventured very far into the genre and would like something not too crazy to start off their exploration. Check it out! I know I'm looking forward to a lot more from author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cait

    ALL GOOD CHILDREN by Catherine Austen has reminded me of what I want and like in a dystopian story, and delivered it with heart-pounding intensity that left me turning the pages long into the early morning when I should have been sleeping. It isn’t even the action in the book that’s so crazy; it’s the calm way events are accepted – no, wanted – by the majority of Middletown, and the anxiety being felt by those who are daring to oppose the system. As someone who teaches elementary school kids day ALL GOOD CHILDREN by Catherine Austen has reminded me of what I want and like in a dystopian story, and delivered it with heart-pounding intensity that left me turning the pages long into the early morning when I should have been sleeping. It isn’t even the action in the book that’s so crazy; it’s the calm way events are accepted – no, wanted – by the majority of Middletown, and the anxiety being felt by those who are daring to oppose the system. As someone who teaches elementary school kids day after day, I found myself thinking “I wish my kids were this well behaved!” As ALL GOOD CHILDREN continued, though, the more horrified I became, and realized that no matter how disruptive or headstrong my students can be, it is much preferred to the calm, peaceful, robot-like obedience of the students in Middletown. I think my horror also came from the cavalier attitude that Catherine Austen wrote her adults as having towards the procedure (not all of them, mind you. Some of the teachers and parents are just as horrified as Max and Dallas about what is happening). How could anyone in a position of authority just disregard basic human rights like they are? The saddest part of the story is what happens to Max’s neighbour Xavier after his behaviour is changed, and the disregard the adults show for his situation. The characters in ALL GOOD CHILDREN are amazingly portrayed. Max is strong, loving and takes care of his family and friends, but he’s also a bit of a troublemaker who doesn’t think twice about fighting and likes nothing more than to take advantage of a chance to graffiti a wall, play football and laze around avoiding homework. One of the reasons this book impacts so hard is because of how attached you get to the characters. All the tension and anxiety bleeds through the pages and it’s impossible not to cringe and laugh and want to cry. Another aspect of ALL GOOD CHILDREN I really enjoyed? Max is African American, Dallas is white, there is a flamboyantly gay classmate and it just is, and accepted. I didn’t even fully clue in until maybe a third or so of the way through the book that Max, our main character, is African American. Catherine Austen does give character descriptions as the story goes on, and Max himself mentions the difference in skin colour near the end when he and Dallas begin planning to leave Middletown since his family wouldn’t be able to claim Dallas as a member, but other than that? No big deal, as it shouldn’t be, and I loved that. The behaviour modification that the government is forcing on the country’s youth in order to make society better is just what I’ve been missing in my dystopia – a promise that this procedure will make everything ok and that our world will be the better for it, and yet it is so wrong. ALL GOOD CHILDREN is chilling and will definitely make you think twice the next time you wish you could just make someone behave the way you want them to. Perfect obedience may seem like a good thing, but when it sacrifices creativity, passion and open minds, nobody benefits, and Max is determined to keep his own personality at all costs.

  3. 4 out of 5

    K.A. Wiggins

    Interesting, detailed and well-developed dystopian exploration of the future of education and corporate trends by way of a smart, artistic and angry teen. While the narrative perspective was well maintained and it didn't get preachy, there's a clear message of vigilance against current trends, and like a lot of dystopian fiction, it extrapolates current trends to an alarming place. Not an overt rebellion story a la Hunger Games or Divergent, but more of a growing awareness and opting out/escapi Interesting, detailed and well-developed dystopian exploration of the future of education and corporate trends by way of a smart, artistic and angry teen. While the narrative perspective was well maintained and it didn't get preachy, there's a clear message of vigilance against current trends, and like a lot of dystopian fiction, it extrapolates current trends to an alarming place. Not an overt rebellion story a la Hunger Games or Divergent, but more of a growing awareness and opting out/escaping adverse situations. The use of art as a sort of silent protest and rallying force against oppression was interesting. Overall a fast read that leaned more toward the disturbing and realistic portrayal of intelligent science fiction than the more exciting and thriller-paced tone of some dystopian fiction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    I used to read but now I don't It's bad I know

    To use one of the novel's own themes, it's a metaphor. Being dystopian, this novel is primarily an allegory of how our lives totally suck today, and, I suppose, of how they've sucked before Christ. Ironically, the reason this novel is such a pessimistically flat read is because it offers no hope, when the quote on the back cover I suppose is supposed to be some sort of gritty paradox that ultimately unveils some empowering truth about life. (It doesn't.) Ok, it's not an exact parallel. They've t To use one of the novel's own themes, it's a metaphor. Being dystopian, this novel is primarily an allegory of how our lives totally suck today, and, I suppose, of how they've sucked before Christ. Ironically, the reason this novel is such a pessimistically flat read is because it offers no hope, when the quote on the back cover I suppose is supposed to be some sort of gritty paradox that ultimately unveils some empowering truth about life. (It doesn't.) Ok, it's not an exact parallel. They've taken out all righteous people; institutionalized everything (more than it is now), colored everything in monotone, created genetically-selected kids, and added a government who wants to control everyone and is using the pharmacy to do it. Oh! I'm sorry! That's not different from today! So step four is where everything different stops. The novel is filled with: 1) Innocent five-year-olds and parents who can't make marriages work 2) Lazy, whiny, self-centered, snotty violent foul self-pleasing crude haughty insecure teenage boys whose relationships with girls extend to rooting through their underwear drawers. Now that I've outlined the content, I don't think it's quite necessary to get into the plot. Given the scenario, could anything good, true, or remotely pleasing come out of it? Could any epiphany result? Only if one isn't aware of the evil already in the world today. To give the novel a fair chance, the author is technically a strong writer. Now back to what's making me frustrated about the minimum of one star on Goodreads. So, I didn't want to expose myself to the total darkness of this book but i needed to know how it ended to properly review it. The plot is very slow going, and although the boys' day-to-day lives are interesting, they're interesting in a crude way. Interesting like high school boys are interesting. Throw-up interesting. The main character is such a - to use part of a common word throughout the novel - ass. I didn't mind - as long as he changed. But at the end, he has merely managed to avoid, along with his family, the government's brainwashing drugs that don't allow one to mouth off, skip school, and pull pranks and punch people in the face every chance you get as the main character, Max, does for the first bit of the novel. He's still a stupid jerk (really, he does seem quite stupid - his thought processes are very muddy and they show no higher call to intellect) and it wasn't really him who saved the family, it was his bestish friend, rich kid Dallas. There's just not any chance of redemption for this novel. It's filled with obscenities that don't make a point other than teen boys and people in general are stupid. Oh yes, Max's art. Max is also a graffiti artist. (Oh joy. Do we have to give the likes of him a spray can? No, because he steals it himself haha. Big surprise. Not.) He does a big mural at the end that's supposed to give the world hope to "Withstand". How vague. I rightly think it's the hope to withstand themselves, though with every possible force of good obliterated from the novel, it seems unlikely. The point of this novel is that the gritty institutionalized school of non-thought should be combated by the gritty egotistical self-serving jerks self-enrolled in the school of non-thought, as it were, the "Bad Kids". But friends, would that make things any better? Does the dog-eat-dog system yield anything better than what went into it? Indeed, this novel is a metaphor - a metaphor of how the world would be without any good in it. The trouble is, it tries to say that good can be found in bad, which is such a lie that it deserves to get the 0.2/10 I'm giving it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lina

    Oh how I like me some interesting Dystopian fiction. I like it even more when said Dystopia is caused by chemical corporations. And Catherine Austen gets double points for the portrayal of a teenage boy that well, feels like a teenage boy. But I get ahead of myself. Maxwell Connors lives in New Middletown with his mother and sister. New Middletown is centered around Old folk homes, which are big business in the future. Built, owned and managed by Chemrose. The people who live in New Middletown ar Oh how I like me some interesting Dystopian fiction. I like it even more when said Dystopia is caused by chemical corporations. And Catherine Austen gets double points for the portrayal of a teenage boy that well, feels like a teenage boy. But I get ahead of myself. Maxwell Connors lives in New Middletown with his mother and sister. New Middletown is centered around Old folk homes, which are big business in the future. Built, owned and managed by Chemrose. The people who live in New Middletown are all employed by the corporation. Their children go to schools run by the corporation. And everybody, whether living in a large house or a small apartment, pay rent to the corporation. Maxwell and his little sister, Ally, miss the first week of school due to their aunt’s death. When they get back, they notice that the kids in Ally’s class are acting weird. They no longer play, scream, or even fight. Most terrifying of all, they are perfectly behaved and worse, it is spreading. In her acknowledgments, Austen quips that she, “did not intend to write this as George and Harold Meet Teen Zombie Nerds in Stepford.” That pretty much sums it up. Max and his friend Dallas jump off the page as real teenage boys. Not too sensitive, not perfect with the overwhelming need to do stupid things. Yet Max loves his sister. He works hard at school despite his ‘tude and is obsessed with art, a love which he honed through illegally “decorating” the buildings in his neighborhood. I don’t want to give too much away, but at one point Max and his friend put two and two together and realise what is going on with the younger kids and that they are going to be next. The struggle to hold on to their identity in a sea of friends-turned-zombies is both moving and terrifying. Austen grows this tension until it reaches an insane pitch. The world she builds is also rich with detail. It is the world how it might be in a few years- where it works pretty much the same- the opening scene has Maxwell being frisked by an airport security guard. But the uniformity, the disparity between those allowed to live in the city and the those who are not, the hierarchy created by those who can afford the best genes for their children and those who can’t all ring prophetic. Austen takes not only at the environmental devastation caused by the large chemical corporations (there is a city on the banks of the St. Lawrence that has been turned into Freaktown because of a chemical spill), but she also takes aim at our current education system and the whole idea of streaming our children. These aspects might be exaggerated in All Good Children but they are still very identifiable. My only quibble with the book would be the abrupt ending. Austen slowly grows the tension until the reader is vibrating with it, but then never tones it down. I would have liked a slower descent to match the slow ascent. Still, an excellent read for those who liked the Hunger Games, Matched, The Maze Runner, and well, all the other dystopian lit out there. It also won the Sunburst prize for speculative fiction as well as the CLA award for Young Adult fiction, just in case you need a gold sticker on the cover to appreciate a book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina Vasilevski

    I bought this book about a week before the official release date because the author took part in Toronto's Word on the Street festival. Her reading of some of the opening text in conjunction with her explanation of how, after writing children's books for many years, she realized she was a closet dystopian fiction junkie sold me on the book. Max is a gifted but rambunctious teenager living in one of the few safe havens after an unspecified economic and ecologic collapse in the 20th Century. Now, m I bought this book about a week before the official release date because the author took part in Toronto's Word on the Street festival. Her reading of some of the opening text in conjunction with her explanation of how, after writing children's books for many years, she realized she was a closet dystopian fiction junkie sold me on the book. Max is a gifted but rambunctious teenager living in one of the few safe havens after an unspecified economic and ecologic collapse in the 20th Century. Now, most men are infertile, phrases like "going the extra mile" are outmoded because gasoline is so sparse, and most people live in squalor outside of a few cities that act as corporate enclaves. Like his peers, Max acts rowdy in class, wisecracks, and generally has a feeling of entitlement because of his education and class background, although he feels insecure about his mother's lowly status as a nurse for the infirm at a giant retirement home. However, something strange happens. All of the children in his town begin to change. They are now lifeless. Dull. Grey. Obedient. It's all because of a "motivational learning" technique called the New Education Support Treatment, or "nesting" for short. As Max sees the consequences of this, he realizes he must find a way to save his family and friends from this fate. One of this novel's greatest strengths is that it creates a plausible and problematic vision of the future and finds a way out that is equally plausible. You won't get the violence and improbable underground revolution of Katniss and co. from the "Hunger Games" trilogy. But you will get something more insidious. Also, while I found the first-person present-tense point of view in the "Hunger Games" trilogy to be grating and distracting, the same style of narration is used to much better, and more seamless, effect in "All Good Children." A final note: this book is well-produced and packaged. The cover uses a colour scheme that is simultaneously intriguing and forboding, and the choice of that elongated and spindly typeface for the title, back cover pull quote, and chapter headings really nails down the emotions inside the book - the children are so drugged into submission that even their handwriting becomes both elegant and menacing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There are good dysotopian future books. There is also this. Have you ever read a book and wondered who....what... where... why.... how....? I bet you have. You probably had those questions answered, too. This book definitely makes you ask those questions. It just doesn't usually give you an answer. So many whys... Why is this town medically altering it's children and no one seems to mind? WHY is no one leaving??? WHYYYY does it take 500 pages for Max's family to finally leave? WHY wouldn't Dalla There are good dysotopian future books. There is also this. Have you ever read a book and wondered who....what... where... why.... how....? I bet you have. You probably had those questions answered, too. This book definitely makes you ask those questions. It just doesn't usually give you an answer. So many whys... Why is this town medically altering it's children and no one seems to mind? WHY is no one leaving??? WHYYYY does it take 500 pages for Max's family to finally leave? WHY wouldn't Dallas want to leave his tuuuuurrible family??? Why, a good 300 pages in, do we suddenly reveal Max and his family are black? (I bring this up merely because, to me, it seemed like a big "BUM BUM BUMMMM!" The author spent too much of the book setting up how the inhabitants of this town pick on people who aren't white to suddenly tell us that Max is the product of an interracial couple.) HOW does it take 500+ pages to get to Canada when actually getting to Canada is COMPLETELY A BREEZE AND TAKES LESS THAN 30 PAGES??? Basically, this book was a whole lot of filler, disguised as "dysotopian". And a memo to it's Canadian author- people in the USA do not call any grade "grade 1, grade 10, etc". Only you crazy Canadians do that, eh. Just for next time you set a book in the dysotopian United States. Which, well, you probably just shouldn't.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meagan Houle

    It wasn't hard to get lost in "All Good Children," both because the pacing was excellent and because no matter how hyperbolic the story got, it always remained compelling. By the end, a few tears had fallen and I was more than able to disregard the more incredible bits for the sake of such a stirring conclusion. The publisher's blurb made the book seem like a middle-grade novel, but it surprised me with its visceral violence and genuine complexity. For me, the only thing that shook me out of the It wasn't hard to get lost in "All Good Children," both because the pacing was excellent and because no matter how hyperbolic the story got, it always remained compelling. By the end, a few tears had fallen and I was more than able to disregard the more incredible bits for the sake of such a stirring conclusion. The publisher's blurb made the book seem like a middle-grade novel, but it surprised me with its visceral violence and genuine complexity. For me, the only thing that shook me out of the story's grip was the near-constant fatphobia. Throughout the book, fat characters are always identified, and it's never done neutrally. It may simply be that the narrator is fatphobic, but the story does not address his contemptuous prejudice at any point, which makes me wonder whether the author realized how her protagonist was coming across. I hope this trend--where it's somehow perfectly acceptable to make all your fat characters unpleasant and/or evil--falls out of favour sooner than later. I didn't like seeing it in the Harry Potter series, otherwise such a beacon for those who hate bigotry, and I hate seeing it now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Seigel

    This was a really well-written and thought provoking dystopian novel. I love the fact that the narrator is male, and he's got a really great voice. Intelligent, thoughtful and a bit of a smart-alek. I also like the way the friendship between him and Dallas- his best friend is drawn. There is enough background given to understand the world, but the actual story starts pretty quickly and is believeably creepy. While it doesn't end precisely on a nail-biting cliff-hanger, there is certainly an indi This was a really well-written and thought provoking dystopian novel. I love the fact that the narrator is male, and he's got a really great voice. Intelligent, thoughtful and a bit of a smart-alek. I also like the way the friendship between him and Dallas- his best friend is drawn. There is enough background given to understand the world, but the actual story starts pretty quickly and is believeably creepy. While it doesn't end precisely on a nail-biting cliff-hanger, there is certainly an indication that the story isn't finished yet and there will be more novels to come.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

    :-)D SUPER creepy and very motivating, this is a story I'll never forget. :-)D SUPER creepy and very motivating, this is a story I'll never forget.

  11. 4 out of 5

    JaceB8a

    This book is very good, and has a lot of twists.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book was just okay. I liked the writing style. It is very comfortable and natural, written in a convincing voice that I felt represented a fifteen-year-old boy realistically. I didn't really connect very strongly with any of the characters, though. I felt like most of the focus of this book was on teenage angst and antics rather than character or plot, which is what I'm most interested in when I sit down to read a book. As mentioned, this author does a good job of convincingly and realistic This book was just okay. I liked the writing style. It is very comfortable and natural, written in a convincing voice that I felt represented a fifteen-year-old boy realistically. I didn't really connect very strongly with any of the characters, though. I felt like most of the focus of this book was on teenage angst and antics rather than character or plot, which is what I'm most interested in when I sit down to read a book. As mentioned, this author does a good job of convincingly and realistically conveying teenage emotions and activities, but she somehow fails to create well-rounded, convincing individuals that a reader can really get to know and become invested in. I also felt like this book dragged. I actually almost stopped reading this book about 1/3 of the way through because nothing had happened yet, which is a big deal for me because I don't believe in giving up on books. I really only finished this because I had nothing else to do at the time. The pacing of this book is just really slow, making even the climax and resolution fall flat, and the focus is more on Max dealing with the issues at hand as opposed to figuring out how to solve the problems. This made for an okay but not super engaging or exciting story, which is a shame because it is a really interesting premise. I was also disappointed by the ending because it does not really have any kind of resolution, but more of a temporary solution with a faint hint at blind hope that maybe things could possibly maybe change but probably not. Really disappointing. Warnings (on a scale of 1-5): Sexual/Body: 2 This story focuses on a bunch of fifteen-year-old boys, so it is not surprising that there are some comments made about boys checking out or discussing girls' bodies, but it is kept relatively tame and mostly just shows up in the first half of the book, likely as a contrast to the events that happen in the second half. Gay/Lesbian: 2 For some reason, this author mentions and focuses on the boys being, pretending to be, or denying being gay even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the story. I suppose it was, again, used to create a contrast between before and after, but I personally don't believe teenage boys think or talk about it as often as this author makes them out to do. Language: 3 The language used in this book is not excessive, but the words used are rather intense.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bailey

    Rating: 3.5 stars Yes, children from the ages 5-18 can be wild, and staff at school often have difficulty controlling us, but when it comes to how they control us, how far is too far? Max and his younger sister miss the first week of school, so when they come back they have no idea what happened. The children act strange at the elementary school. They are more obedient, more studious. Are they still themselves? And even more important, how did they become this way? The premise of this story is lik Rating: 3.5 stars Yes, children from the ages 5-18 can be wild, and staff at school often have difficulty controlling us, but when it comes to how they control us, how far is too far? Max and his younger sister miss the first week of school, so when they come back they have no idea what happened. The children act strange at the elementary school. They are more obedient, more studious. Are they still themselves? And even more important, how did they become this way? The premise of this story is like none other that I have heard of, so I was very interested to find out what this book is all about. All Good Children by Catherine Austen felt like a rollercoaster. It felt like I was waiting in a really long line to get on this ride, but I had to wait so long I wanted to just leave at times. Once I finally got on the ride, it was fun, but short-lived. There was so much potential, but it took over 50 pages for the book's plot to even pick up. I kept looking at the page number, wondering when something was actually going to happen. I want a story that straps me in and sends me out on the roller coaster from the very beginning because I don't like "long lines". There were some redeeming qualities to the book after I got past page 70 something. For one, I became more attached to Max (maybe because something called the plot actually picked up, so I had a reason to root for him. Just a possibility). There were actual struggles other then petty high school fights. Max had to man up and be strong. Ally also really pulled this story together. I usually don't get attached to younger characters (about 8 and below) because I feel like they don't really have much personality, but Ally was just darling. Every scene with Ally was pulling my heartstrings. I loved this character like she was my own sister. Once I finished the entire book, I was glad I had. It really was a thought provoking story about a world that could become ours in years to come. Some dystopian novels manage to capture that essence, and others don't, but this one certainly did. If a sequel is written for this book, which I hope one is, I will rush to the library to pick it up. I think most any fan of dystopian novels might enjoy this book, so if you are a fan of the genre, I recommend you check this book out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lawral

    All Good Children is a great book. The world that Austen has created really is a whole lot like ours could be in, oh, 50 years (or less). The majority of the population is desperately poor and living in cars they cannot afford to fuel. The (what we now call) middle class minority works in some capacity with the booming elder care industry. Everyone has an RIG that connects them constantly to entertainment, work, communication, whatever (ie, it's what iPad aspires to be). A chemical spill has cre All Good Children is a great book. The world that Austen has created really is a whole lot like ours could be in, oh, 50 years (or less). The majority of the population is desperately poor and living in cars they cannot afford to fuel. The (what we now call) middle class minority works in some capacity with the booming elder care industry. Everyone has an RIG that connects them constantly to entertainment, work, communication, whatever (ie, it's what iPad aspires to be). A chemical spill has created a whole region's worth of people born with physical deformities...that compete on a reality TV show. The cities are dangerous places, and everyone has moved to gated communities (actual communities rather than housing developments) for their own safety. That they've given up a whole host of civil liberties in exchange for that safety bothers almost none of them. They even give up the right to know what vaccinations are being administered in their children's schools and why their children suddenly have no discernible personalities. It's cool though, because they're just so darn well-behaved. Max is not well-behaved. He never has been, and if he has anything to do with it, he never will be. He, along with his best friend Dallas, struggle to maintain their own thoughts and personalities while pretending to be perfectly "good children." Their struggle was awful, but their friendship was great. The fact that Max's mom is Black and his father was white is not a constant issue, but it is an important one. In their own community, it is a non-issue (or it's supposed to be), but outside is another story. Without the visual aid of their father, Max's mom is always eyed with suspicion while traveling with Max and his sister Ally. Though it is published by Orca, it is not technically a hi-lo (high interest, low reading level). It's appropriate in both areas of measurement for the 12 and up set. It is, however, about a couple high school seniors and could be used as reading material for the same. I think it will be great for reluctant readers and dystopian lovers alike. Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I rather enjoyed this book about Max and his friends. They live in New Middletown, a company town of the great chemical company, Chemrose. Chemrose has developed a new shot that creates incredibly obedient, well behaved children. True, it's still rather experimental, but all the adults seem determined to believe it's the best thing since sliced bread. It intrieged me to see the early developement of a society, like that in BRAVE NEW WORLD or THIS PERFECT DAY, that so relied on its citizens takin I rather enjoyed this book about Max and his friends. They live in New Middletown, a company town of the great chemical company, Chemrose. Chemrose has developed a new shot that creates incredibly obedient, well behaved children. True, it's still rather experimental, but all the adults seem determined to believe it's the best thing since sliced bread. It intrieged me to see the early developement of a society, like that in BRAVE NEW WORLD or THIS PERFECT DAY, that so relied on its citizens taking their chemical doses. We first meet Max accidently striping at the airport, when he's told to remove his belt. No one appreciates his humor. When his family gets back to New Middleton, Max is relieved to be back with his friends; he's missed the first two weeks of school. His little sister, Ally, is not so happy. She says there is something wrong with her friends. They don't want to play the same imaginary games any more. They are fuzzy, she says. Max and his Mom don't take Ally's complaints very seriously, until they notice all the first graders lining up in straight, quiet lines, waiting for the bell to go into their class, no pushing, giggling or horseplay, no waving or yelling: just order. It scares Max. He gets more scared as he learns more about the new system. His best friend, Dallas, can't believe it's as serious as Max thinks, but his father, who is determined to remold Dallas into the perfect son he wants, is a major supporter of the plan. There was plenty of suspense, and a fair amount of humor, too. And it was kind of fun to be reading a Canadian author, after all the Australians I've gotten into lately.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews)

    Wow I did not know what to expect going into this story but was completely blown away with this book. Ok so I admit that through parts of it I was wondering where the story may be leading, the side characters became a little flat for me. But after finishing the story I realized that of course when people are being drugged to "behave" that of course they are going to become flat characters. Once this realization hit and I looked back over the story, color me impressed! I really enjoyed the idea, Wow I did not know what to expect going into this story but was completely blown away with this book. Ok so I admit that through parts of it I was wondering where the story may be leading, the side characters became a little flat for me. But after finishing the story I realized that of course when people are being drugged to "behave" that of course they are going to become flat characters. Once this realization hit and I looked back over the story, color me impressed! I really enjoyed the idea, I loved the characters and/or what the characters ended up representing. For some reason my favorite part of the story was very close to the beginning when Max is explaining how due to a contamination in a town how the birth defects rose. The outcome of those defects truly sparked a lot of questions and interests inside of me. I found it facinating how all children are based on certain factors, like how well bred they were because of how rich the parents were. Ok ok I know that sounds like it could be set in todays world, but it's completely different here, a whole new level. I found it very interesting that the term "recall" was used for one of the lowest grades of people. Altogether a fascinating twist on people, life, our world and interactions with each other. It was a fantastic mix of Science Fiction and Dystopian. It brought up several of the same feelings and ideas in me that Divergent by Veronica Roth did.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A good YA dystopian novel about life in a "perfect" town after an epidemic of flu that has killed millions. I found the plot interesting, although predictable. Just once, I'd like it to be the perfect child who saves the day - not the rebel. A good YA dystopian novel about life in a "perfect" town after an epidemic of flu that has killed millions. I found the plot interesting, although predictable. Just once, I'd like it to be the perfect child who saves the day - not the rebel.

  18. 5 out of 5

    val

    3½ an interesting and honestly terrifying story, as this depiction of the future does not seem incredibly implausible to me. i enjoyed the description of high school hierarchy and max's relationships with his friends. i also liked that the realisation that a treatment was occurring and what it was, was a slow progression. it made this setting feel grounded and ally's observations felt very real. small things like IDs (identifications) not being capitalised and school levels being referred to as gra 3½ an interesting and honestly terrifying story, as this depiction of the future does not seem incredibly implausible to me. i enjoyed the description of high school hierarchy and max's relationships with his friends. i also liked that the realisation that a treatment was occurring and what it was, was a slow progression. it made this setting feel grounded and ally's observations felt very real. small things like IDs (identifications) not being capitalised and school levels being referred to as grade X even though it was set in the US bothered me a little, but didn't diminish my experience. i will say i wish the RIGs were described more/in a better way? i didnt understand if they were just phones with a different name or like, a switch lite. also i couldve done without the fatphobic connotations in the description of peoples bodies

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather Law

    Okay, so I wasn't sure how I would like the book at first, because so much YA stuff is all just love triangle, and I didn't want anymore of that. This book beat my expectations in all the best ways. It all takes place in a time before the revolution, so it's when things start going bad, and I had never seen a book like this. It captures the feeling of a dystopian novel; the ideas that you are helpless, and that the machine will eat you up without noticing. The characters are also really interest Okay, so I wasn't sure how I would like the book at first, because so much YA stuff is all just love triangle, and I didn't want anymore of that. This book beat my expectations in all the best ways. It all takes place in a time before the revolution, so it's when things start going bad, and I had never seen a book like this. It captures the feeling of a dystopian novel; the ideas that you are helpless, and that the machine will eat you up without noticing. The characters are also really interesting. My personal favourite was Xavier. The book gives very real emotions though, and the writing is good. I spent a large portion of it sobbing my eyes out. I recommend this book to everyone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura Guilbault

    Really enjoyed the story, but a couple of the characters annoyed me. I thought that Austen's description of Maxwell Connors' future was very well thought-through, and possible. I also really liked the Freakshow reality TV detail; it brings up good discussion points. I did not like the main character very much, and I found that the adults in the story should have and would have reacted differently. The ending, as well, was too short, smooth and happy. Everybody likes a happy ending, but the climax Really enjoyed the story, but a couple of the characters annoyed me. I thought that Austen's description of Maxwell Connors' future was very well thought-through, and possible. I also really liked the Freakshow reality TV detail; it brings up good discussion points. I did not like the main character very much, and I found that the adults in the story should have and would have reacted differently. The ending, as well, was too short, smooth and happy. Everybody likes a happy ending, but the climax was not impactful enough. All in all a nice read, I recommend for grade 7-10.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Potato

    Frankly is it the poorest attempt at a dystopic fiction I've ever read. The plot and characters are unique archetypes but are horribly uninteresting. The execution of its concepts are laughable, with many of the world's features not making logistic sense, despite supposedly happening in the near future. It's is so blatant with its theming and message that it is downright patronizing to read. Never buy it. Frankly is it the poorest attempt at a dystopic fiction I've ever read. The plot and characters are unique archetypes but are horribly uninteresting. The execution of its concepts are laughable, with many of the world's features not making logistic sense, despite supposedly happening in the near future. It's is so blatant with its theming and message that it is downright patronizing to read. Never buy it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mat

    I enjoyed this one. Lots of ethics topics and explores what may occur in those situations. The post-apocolyptic rebuild feel was interesting. I gave this one a 3 because where as I enjoyed some parts in regards to what was happening I found it to be choppy. Somethings needed more build up and others needed to just get going. I'm unsure if this is meant to be a series but I would be likely to like a second book more where the continued exploration of the settings might take place. I enjoyed this one. Lots of ethics topics and explores what may occur in those situations. The post-apocolyptic rebuild feel was interesting. I gave this one a 3 because where as I enjoyed some parts in regards to what was happening I found it to be choppy. Somethings needed more build up and others needed to just get going. I'm unsure if this is meant to be a series but I would be likely to like a second book more where the continued exploration of the settings might take place.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zanib

    Honestly, my review will do this book no justice. In fact, I should have written this review a long time ago, just never got around to it. Which is weird because I loved this book. Now, I'm not talking about the liked, love. I'm talking about the loved, loved. It is one of those novels that will bring tears to your eyes because of its ferocious writing style. Its power dripping in all the words, and oh, all the emotions. You guys noticing how I'm using all the italics? I can't emphasise my point Honestly, my review will do this book no justice. In fact, I should have written this review a long time ago, just never got around to it. Which is weird because I loved this book. Now, I'm not talking about the liked, love. I'm talking about the loved, loved. It is one of those novels that will bring tears to your eyes because of its ferocious writing style. Its power dripping in all the words, and oh, all the emotions. You guys noticing how I'm using all the italics? I can't emphasise my point enough. Let me start by praising the author. Because you know what? A lot of people don't think of it this way, but the power of writing is in the authors hands. Catherine Austen has made my top three, and to make my top three, you need requirements that go beyond the normal. Beyond the beyond. I can't even describe this requirement. It's like something that lives in my heart (sound too cliché? I don't kid when I say: I love books). I loved all the characters in All Good Children. I loved how they were all connected, and by the way, I'm the kind of person who loves romance in novels, but this book has made me realise that friendship is so much more stronger. I loved the voice of the main characters, and the not so main characters. I loved the plot and how it was intertwined with everything else in the book. It was very powerful. The story takes place in the time we are living in, yet everything is a little bit tighter. Everything is more high tech, and parents can actually decide what kind of child they want. The richer your family is, the more perfect you will be. Like, say, Xavier Lavigne. No, he's not the main character, but he is the neighbour of the main character and also my favourite. Just picture the perfect, tall, athletic blond and you've got Xavier. What I like about him is that he has a very unique and original personality. For example, instead of greeting you with a 'hi' or 'hey', he'll launch into some sort of rant about something. Whether it be something nerdy about science, some new facts, or just about society. He's also a master mind hacker. He can get you in just about any network. In fact, while Max (main character) was away visiting some dead relative, Xavier marked him present for all his classes at school. When Max, his sister Ally, and his mother return, things aren't really the same. In fact, ever since the death of his father, things haven't been the same. Max is almost as black as his mother, while Ally is white like his father, so there were some issues there. Also, ever since the death of their father, they've been really poor. Max, who loves creativity, and his friend Dallas, who has a rich father, notice that that the children in Ally's school are acting weird. Very obedient, like 'zombies' as they would refer to them as. When all the children in Ally's school become zombies, she must pretend to be one of them or else the authorities would have to give her the medicine they gave the other children. The whole thing is called 'NESTING', and it's supposed to turn children into obedient freaks. Sad thing is, when Dallas and Max get themselves into detention, it's their turn to be given the shot, but because of some reasons (read the book) they're saved, and now it's their turn to act like zombies. What I really liked about the plot was not really the plot, though it was still amazing, but I liked how all the relationships were really a big part of it. Once you become a zombie, or see someone you love turn into a zombie, it's like watching your family turn against you. Turn into complete strangers who are totally incapable of emotions and that is just sad. Of course, it wouldn't be sad if you, the reader, wasn't given the opportunity to connect with the characters first. That's another thing I loved about this book. The biggest development was that of the characters, yet there was still an active plot throughout the story. Max is this short, art loving dude who you just can't get enough of. He has a somewhat big ego, and is addicted to is RIG (which is kind of like an ipod touch, just more developed). He isn't the kind of character who's always talking loudly just to draw attention or seem cool, nor is he the quiet, good boy like in most stories. He's in between, and he actually has an original personality that actually shows in the book. Oh, and then there was Dallas. There was a part in the story were I wanted to strangle him, but not because I didn't like him, but because he was acting like a zombie *shudders*. And I didn't care so much because he was my favourite character (but I did like him) but because he was Max's best friend. And it was like I was watching Dallas change before my eyes like Max was. Overall, I can't praise this book enough. I can't thank Catherine Austen enough for making me realise that reading a book with a strong friendship is more heart-clenching then reading a book with a cheesy romance. I cried almost every other page, and it was only because of the importance of family and friendship. Definitely a five stars. Well, OK, 100/5. I'm not even kidding here. You can find more of my reviews here: http://dawnofthebooks.blogspot.ca/

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Slow to start. Description of main character lacking. Reads a lot like "Candor," except set in some not too distant future rather than present day. Ending less realistic, more fantasy, where good guys always squeak by. Slow to start. Description of main character lacking. Reads a lot like "Candor," except set in some not too distant future rather than present day. Ending less realistic, more fantasy, where good guys always squeak by.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    (ACTUAL RATING: 2,5/5 STARS) **Review in progress**

  26. 5 out of 5

    J Pouliot

    Possibly one of the best books I've ever read. Definitely top 10! Possibly one of the best books I've ever read. Definitely top 10!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gayla Ber

    An interesting take on a dystopian future

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rose Zarcani

    Very deep and thought producing. With the way the world is now, it sounds like a very possible future for all us who live here.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book, but its conclusion was unsatisfying.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Locke

    Quick easy read that was enjoyable, believable and suspenseful. It makes one wonder how far will we fall from civilized, loving , kind human beings!

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