Most helpful positive review
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Amazing, thought-provoking -- a must-read
on 30 March 2010
Sam Mills' latest novel for young adults is set in a terrifying dystopian future -- terrifying because, though we are not told exactly when it takes place, it's clear that it is not very many years on from our present. Kids still have game-boys, watch TV, read books. But -- and its a big but -- the books they read have all been "rewritten" to purge them of potentially radical thinking. The originals -- and they include 1984, Of Mice and Men, the Harry Potter books and The Catcher in the Rye -- are banned, and anyone caught reading them will be punished. For this is a harsh world, with public hangings in Trafalgar Square, an Institution for rebellious kids to be brainwashed into obedience, "Good Behaviour Pills" to keep pupils on the straight and narrow, and prison ships offshore for suspected terrorists. Young Stefan, the narrator, gets thrown into the midst of all this when his father, a bookshop owner, is taken away by the police after he is found to be hiding a subversive Muslim writer in their house. Stefan's life becomes a nightmare, first because he has been so brainwashed that he believes his father is wicked and later because he comes to realise the truth of what is really going on.
This is a truly thought-provoking book, which is not afraid to raise difficult issues and to admit that nothing is entirely black and white. Exciting and unputdownable -- highly recommended.