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Consumption of alcohol: Illegal.

Football and other "violent" sports: Illegal.

Ownership of guns, chain saws, and/or large dogs: Illegal.

Body piercings, tattoos: Illegal.


It's late in the twenty-first century, and the United Safer States of America (USSA) has become a nation obsessed with safety. For Bo Marsten, a teenager who grew up in the USSA, it's all good. He knows the harsh laws were created to protect the people. But when Bo's temper flares out of control and he's sentenced to three years of manual labor, he's not so down with the law anymore.

Bo's forced to live and work in a factory in the Canadian tundra. The warden running the place is totally out of his mind, and cares little for his inmates' safety. Bo will have to decide what's worse: a society that locks people up for road rage, or a prison where the wrong move could make you polar bear food.

Topics: Dystopia

Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on Feb 7, 2012
ISBN: 9781439115268
List price: $9.99
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awesome , breathtaking , full of exitementread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This novel is very entertaining. It is as much packed with action as with humor and satire.The protagonist, Bo Marsten, breaks one law after another in the United Safer States of America, towards the end of the 21st century. He is sent for 3 years to the Canadian tundra, at apizza factory where he has to survive the hard work and illegal football pracices or be polar bear food. As the events in his life unfold eveyrthing is being ridiculed and exposed, at times with humor, and at other times with downright harsh sarcasm - from the obsession with safety, to big business mergers and the government itself. Kids will love the action, and relate to Bo's high school experiences and the way he feels. They might even enjoy the intellectual game of trying to keep track of all the things the author is denouncing with irony and satire sprinkled throughout the book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I originally picked up this book because the opening lines looked interesting. It seemed to be a humorous look at life in the future. As I further read the book, though, I realized that I was not the demographic that the book was meant to hit. In lieu of a teenage boy reading this novel, here I was, a woman in my sixties wondering how I was going to get through this book or even whether to give up on it. I kept reading. I liked Bork, the cybernetic creation of Bo Marsten, who had built him as part of a high school project to create an intelligent personality from a part of his school's computer. Sadly, anger was not permitted in this future scenario so when Kharlos Minx moved in on Bo's love interest Maddy, Bo acted up to the point that he was sent to prison in the Canadian tundra. Should I continue reading, I wondered? Well, Bork came back and, irises spinning, amused me greatly. At one point in Bo's imprisonment, he was made to play football. This reader had just finished watching the (real life) Washington Redskin-Dallas Cowboys game so I took note when I read of a football team in this story called the RedShirts. Football to me is great. All of a sudden, I finished the book...and I liked it! No going back now.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

awesome , breathtaking , full of exitement
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This novel is very entertaining. It is as much packed with action as with humor and satire.The protagonist, Bo Marsten, breaks one law after another in the United Safer States of America, towards the end of the 21st century. He is sent for 3 years to the Canadian tundra, at apizza factory where he has to survive the hard work and illegal football pracices or be polar bear food. As the events in his life unfold eveyrthing is being ridiculed and exposed, at times with humor, and at other times with downright harsh sarcasm - from the obsession with safety, to big business mergers and the government itself. Kids will love the action, and relate to Bo's high school experiences and the way he feels. They might even enjoy the intellectual game of trying to keep track of all the things the author is denouncing with irony and satire sprinkled throughout the book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I originally picked up this book because the opening lines looked interesting. It seemed to be a humorous look at life in the future. As I further read the book, though, I realized that I was not the demographic that the book was meant to hit. In lieu of a teenage boy reading this novel, here I was, a woman in my sixties wondering how I was going to get through this book or even whether to give up on it. I kept reading. I liked Bork, the cybernetic creation of Bo Marsten, who had built him as part of a high school project to create an intelligent personality from a part of his school's computer. Sadly, anger was not permitted in this future scenario so when Kharlos Minx moved in on Bo's love interest Maddy, Bo acted up to the point that he was sent to prison in the Canadian tundra. Should I continue reading, I wondered? Well, Bork came back and, irises spinning, amused me greatly. At one point in Bo's imprisonment, he was made to play football. This reader had just finished watching the (real life) Washington Redskin-Dallas Cowboys game so I took note when I read of a football team in this story called the RedShirts. Football to me is great. All of a sudden, I finished the book...and I liked it! No going back now.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bo Marston has a problem with his temper... so when he acts, well, rash, he gets sent to a work camp/prison for rehabilitation. Set in a dystopic future, prison means churning out food for global-sized burger and pizza companies. The guards discover that Bo is a fast runner and he is soon drafted to play an elite -- but highly illegal -- game of football. There is a curious subplot about Bo's virtual alter-ego and a subsequent spring from prison and an escape through the arctic. Bo finally gets home and is acquitted but faces the even harder road of returning to (normal) high school and resuming his life. A book that contains more football play-by-play and less suspense than one would expect (being chased by polar bears should be exciting but, meh...) The avatar subplot is, to this reader, just weird. The notions of a future society that is overly-protective and a prison/corporation meld are intriguing but the book feels half-baked; not one of Hautman's best.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Another book by the author who gave us Godless. Once again, the main character, just like in Godless, is someone I could not identify or have any kind of compassion or connection. The premise is good, but, as they say on Project Runway, it failed in the execution.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bo is from a family with a history: both his father and brother are incarcerated for anger-based crimes (road rage and a fistfight, respectively), and Bo is acutely aware of his own struggles with self-control. His rival, Karlohs, intentionally needles him, going so far as to give himself a rash and blame it on Bo. The resulting school-wide psychosomatic rash lands Bo in a heap of trouble, in spite of it not actually being his fault.. Name-calling has already put him on probation, so throwing a punch at Karlohs, while satisfying, seals his fate. Bo is off to the Canadian tundra to fill his 36-month sentence in a pizza factory, miles from nowhere and surrounded by hungry polar bears.

Work in the pizza factory isn’t unbearable, but it’s far from pleasant. However, things take a turn for the better when he’s accepted into the factory’s highly-selective, highly-illegal football team. Playing football gives Bo the outlet he never knew he’d been looking for, but it’s not enough to help him overcome all his fears. There are still those hungry polar bears on the other side of the fence, after all.

In between Bo’s athletic and personal problems, there’s the matter of his science-project AI he’d been working on when he was kicked out of school: Bork has somehow, against all odds, developed sentience and a sense of humor, and is now creeping through the WindO, a webghost with legal aspirations.

And thank goodness the government has stepped up to the plate to ensure the safety of its citizens! The United Safer States of America have outlawed virtually anything dangerous: alcohol, pocketknives, self-mutilation (tattoos and body piercing, mainly), even name-calling, which could damage the victim's feelings. The penal system, incarcerating nearly 25% of the population, is more about a labor force than corrections.

Lots of football details for the sports fans, plus humor and a main character you honestly root for, despite how many of his problems are entirely of his own making. 8th grade and up would likely enjoy this (older readers will get more out of it, of course), particularly reluctant-reader boys.
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