In Catherine Austen’s new novel we spend a lot of time breaking out of dystopia. The story harkens back to the very best elements of Ira Levin’s 1975 novel (later made into a couple of astonishingly bad movies) Stepford Wives.
At the center of the 21st century, select children of the well-behaved city of New Middletown line up and take their medicine. The treatment turns them into the well-mannered and obedient citizens the city has come to expect. Best friends Max and Dallas watch in panic as friends and siblings are turned into well-behaved “zombies.” What can they do about it? Clearly nothing, because they can see that something larger than themselves is at play.
It will surprise no one at all that Catherine Austen, author of All Good Children (Orca), studied political science and environmental studies. And it seems possible that, unlike many in her graduating classes, Austen is actually using what she learned for something: imagining this dystopic future where the unimaginable has become the norm.
The readership age here is intended to be young adult, but anyone who enjoys being taken out of their every day should find lots to recommend about All Good Children. ◊
Lincoln Cho is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in the Chicago area, where he works in the high-tech industry. He is currently working on a his first novel, a science-fiction thriller set in the world of telecommunications.