Synopses & Reviews
School has become a prison.
No one knows why.
There's no way to stop it.
"This novel set in the near future offers a chilling examination of controlling forces undermining individual rights. After a shooting takes place at Pleasant Valley, a Massachusetts high school, it seems reasonable that extra security precautions should be implemented at neighboring Central High. However, Tom Bishop and his 'Smart Jock' friends grow uneasy as Central High's rules (and punishments for breaking them) become more and more extreme. Tom reluctantly cooperates with the stricter dress code (which, for example, prohibits students from wearing anything red). He also puts up with routine backpack checks, random locker searches and periodic urine tests in order to avoid getting suspended, or worse, being sent to Operation Turnaround, where 'kids check in, and they don't check out.' The sinister clinical psychologist Dr. Willner, who has usurped their beloved principal, finally pushes the narrator beyond his tolerance limit when he asks Tom to throw a game against Pleasant Valley to raise the spirits of its grieving students. No matter what action Tom takes, he realizes that he has much to lose and discovers that other classmates have faced fatal consequences. In her first novel for young adults, Prose succeeds in keeping suspense high and manages, for the most part, to connect shocking events to a reality familiar to most teens. Her introduction of a science-fiction thread seems chillingly plausible (Dr. Willard uses e-mails to brainwash the teens' parents). This drama raises all-too-relevant questions about the fine line between safety as a means of protection versus encroachment on individual rights and free will. Sure to spur heated discussions. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[E]xcellent....The characters are realistically drawn, and their escalating loss of freedom is told in a believable way. Vivid and memorable, it moves at a fast pace despite its length....Highly recommended." Sherrie Williams, VOYA
"The story works, even if in the end it seems closer to SF than to realistic fiction well, a Ray Bradbury kind of SF....Of course, [controlling adolescents] is a theme with enormous appeal for most YAs." Claire Rosser, KLIATT
About the Author
Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director's Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her most recent book is Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. She lives in New York City.