Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Rash

Hautman, Pete (Author)
Simon & Schuster 2007. 250 pages
First published: 2006
ISBN: 9780689869044 (paperback)
9781439115268 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Dystopian

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, dialogue, figurative language, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Using the unquestioning perspective of high school student Bo Marsden, the dark side of social privilege is revealed in this hilarious send-up of contemporary western culture. The year is 2074, and Bo is just trying to get by: “According to my sixteenth year Career Indexing Evaluation, my top career choice was correctional worker. I guess that meant I’d make a good prison guard. Or maybe a good prisoner. Either way, with penal institutions being such big business, I’d have no problem finding work if I wanted it.”

In Bo’s world, living in the United Safer States of America (USSA), human rights are trampled under the guise of safety. In addition, as citizens are outrageously cosseted, their sense of personal agency withers. But energetic Bo has problems fitting in: “verbally attacking someone’s physical appearance is a class-three misdemeanor … I already had two violations on my record. Three strikes and you’re out.”

The language skillfully unveils Bo’s conflicted character, both in regular society and while serving his sentence in a polar bear-infested pizza factory in Canada’s far north. Bo’s cranky, beer-guzzling “Gramps” provides a voice of social dissent, while prison warden, Hammer (“You are my nails”), shows the crushing inequity of authoritarian law. Friendship with cellmate and football teammate Rhino creates an opportunity for self-reflection, while online correspondence with Artificial Intelligence Bork provides another perspective on the corrupt system—and the means of Bo’s escape. Altogether, this lively dystopian adventure offers keen commentary on disturbing trends in society today, while conveying the satisfying story of a young man coming to terms with himself and his future.

  •  The dystopian future serves as a cautionary tale for readers. Collect ideas about the conventions of the genre. Consider the setting, future world, characters, technological innovations, social, political and economic structures, etc.
  •  

    In small groups, discuss the elements of the present day (laws, rules, other social conventions) that are being critiqued in the novel. Use examples from the text to back up your ideas.

  •  

    Include this in a text set about dystopian futures for literature circles. Share the outcome of discussions after each meeting and continue to identify conventions of dystopian literature for young adults.

  •  

    In a small group, identify ways (including those that might seem unlikely) that the government could improve public safety and security in the next 50 years. Share your group’s answers with the whole class.

  •  

    As you read, paint a mental image of Bo Marsten by writing down adjectives that best define him. Use his actions and conversations as cues.

  •  

    As Bo Marsten, send a letter to Gramps one year after moving to South America, telling him what you have been up to and how life there is different from in the USSA.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences