Spark740's Reviews > All Good Children

All Good Children by Catherine Austen
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Dec 11, 2012

did not like it


To use one of the novel's own themes, it's a metaphor.


Being dystopian, this novel is primarily an allegory of how our lives totally suck today, and, I suppose, of how they've sucked before Christ. Ironically, the reason this novel is such a pessimistically flat read is because it offers no hope, when the quote on the back cover I suppose is supposed to be some sort of gritty paradox that ultimately unveils some empowering truth about life. (It doesn't.) Ok, it's not an exact parallel. They've taken out all righteous people; institutionalized everything (more than it is now), colored everything in monotone, created genetically-selected kids, and added a government who wants to control everyone and is using the pharmacy to do it. Oh! I'm sorry! That's not different from today! So step four is where everything different stops. The novel is filled with:

1) Innocent five-year-olds and parents who can't make marriages work
2) Lazy, whiny, self-centered, snotty violent foul self-pleasing crude haughty insecure teenage boys whose relationships with girls extend to rooting through their underwear drawers.

Now that I've outlined the content, I don't think it's quite necessary to get into the plot. Given the scenario, could anything good, true, or remotely pleasing come out of it? Could any epiphany result? Only if one isn't aware of the evil already in the world today.
To give the novel a fair chance, the author is technically a strong writer. Now back to what's making me frustrated about the minimum of one star on Goodreads.
So, I didn't want to expose myself to the total darkness of this book but i needed to know how it ended to properly review it. The plot is very slow going, and although the boys' day-to-day lives are interesting, they're interesting in a crude way. Interesting like high school boys are interesting. Throw-up interesting. The main character is such a - to use part of a common word throughout the novel - ass. I didn't mind - as long as he changed. But at the end, he has merely managed to avoid, along with his family, the government's brainwashing drugs that don't allow one to mouth off, skip school, and pull pranks and punch people in the face every chance you get as the main character, Max, does for the first bit of the novel. He's still a stupid jerk (really, he does seem quite stupid - his thought processes are very muddy and they show no higher call to intellect) and it wasn't really him who saved the family, it was his bestish friend, rich kid Dallas. There's just not any chance of redemption for this novel. It's filled with obscenities that don't make a point other than teen boys and people in general are stupid. Oh yes, Max's art. Max is also a graffiti artist. (Oh joy. Do we have to give the likes of him a spray can? No, because he steals it himself haha. Big surprise. Not.) He does a big mural at the end that's supposed to give the world hope to "Withstand". How vague. I rightly think it's the hope to withstand themselves, though with every possible force of good obliterated from the novel, it seems unlikely. The point of this novel is that the gritty institutionalized school of non-thought should be combated by the gritty egotistical self-serving jerks self-enrolled in the school of non-thought, as it were, the "Bad Kids". But friends, would that make things any better? Does the dog-eat-dog system yield anything better than what went into it? Indeed, this novel is a metaphor - a metaphor of how the world would be without any good in it. The trouble is, it tries to say that good can be found in bad, which is such a lie that it deserves to get the 0.2/10 I'm giving it.
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