Goodhouse, by Peyton Marshall

Upper teens, 15+, contains offensive language.

Goodhouse is a not too distant futuristic dystopian society where genetic testing decides your future. Well, if you are boy at least. Turns out us boys are a lot easier to predict if we are going to be naughty or not.

In the future, scientists (always with those guys) have worked out a way to predict who will be a criminal and who will not be. Effectively if your parents were criminals then you can be tested for a gene and then at the ripe old age of somewhere under six, you will find yourself ushered off to a facility for reconditioning. Men go to jail, boys go to Goodhouse.

James, our protagonist, has been in the system since he was three and is now seventeen. His current ‘Goodhouse’ isn’t the greatest, the odd beating, lots of mental conditioning and discipline, but it isn’t all that bad. Well, things get worse. A group of terrorist puritans, probably the best description for them, are dead set on making all the Goodhouse kids, er dead. They consider them genetic waste and therefore they need to be disposed of.

Security fails, the Zeros get in, and James finds himself shipped off to another Goodhouse facility. This time it’s anything but fun. More discipline, more mental conditioning, way more beatings and this time you even are part of some whacky medical experiments! Oh boy, tough life being a non criminal, potential criminal offender.

Life at the new Goodhouse is far from good and with the help of a friendly, yet somewhat naughty teen girl, James sets about finding a way to get out. But when he does it’s the just start of his new deadly existence of being a fugitive. Not only is he sought by the Goodhouse security team, the lethal Zero’s are hunting him along every step of the way.

A ‘not bad’ first time novel from an acclaimed short story writer, but I kind of feel she may have missed her target. I’m not really sure where or for what audience this books fits. It has an Alex Ryder style, but some of the messages and themes might be a bit a raw for younger readers. Then it has some adult features but then it’s not adult enough to keep a mature youth reader engaged.

 

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TITLE: Goodhouse
AUTHOR(S): Peyton Marshall
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
RRP: $36.99
ISBN: 9780857521903

Drew Thompson Drew operates a successful hobby farm for pampered cattle in rural South Auckland. He once dabbled in education, where he discovered any book was a good book. As with most ex-teachers, he realised he was better off spending his time and patience on his own awesome children.

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